How to install custom Color Schemes in PowerPoint

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What are custom Color Schemes in PowerPoint?

Custom color schemes are an essential arrow in the quiver of any PowerPoint designer. In general, working with a fixed Color Scheme in PowerPoint instead of manually picking your colors of choice has multiple advantages:

  1. You can easily switch color schemes and all colors in your presentation are automatically adjusted
  2. You make sure that your presentation has a consistent design by default (which is a minimum requirement for any presentation today)

By default, PowerPoint has preselected one of its standard color schemes for you. But most of them look quite old-fashioned and boring, so using a custom Color Scheme can bring your presentation on a whole new visual level.

Where can I get custom Color Schemes?

You can either create them yourself inside of PowerPoint (Design > Colours > Customise Colours) or you can download them from an online source like our Free Color Scheme Selection. This selection contains a set of modern and hand-picked Color Schemes already in the required XML file format.

How to install custom Color Schemes?

Custom color schemes for PowerPoint have to be in a certain XML file format. The files you find in our Free Color Scheme Selection are already in the correct format so you don’t have to worry about that.

In order to install them for PowerPoint (and all other Office applications), you have to copy these XML files to the Theme Colors folder of your Microsoft Office installation. While these XML files are compatible with both Windows and Mac OSX, the location of this Theme Colors folder differs on these systems.

Installation on Windows

The easiest way to locate the Theme Colors folder in Windows is to open the Explorer window and enter the following text in the location pane at the top:

%AppData%\Microsoft\Templates\Document Themes\Theme Colors

Press Enter. This will open the Theme Colors folder which is the place for all Custom Color Scheme XML files. Copy over all XML files you want to be added into this folder and restart your PowerPoint application. 

Installation on Mac OSX

In Mac OSX, the custom Color Scheme files are stored inside the user’s home folder in:

/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/User Templates/My Themes/Theme Colors

By default, the Library folder is hidden, but you can reveal it by holding down the Option key while clicking the Go menu in the Finder, then selecting Library. Navigate to the Theme Colors folder and copy over all XML files you want to be added into this folder and restart your PowerPoint application.

Note: In our latest PowerPoint 365 installation, we detected that the location of the Theme Colors folder might have changed on Mac OSX for newer versions. If you cannot find the path given above, try looking for /Library/Group Containers/ ….Office/User Content/Themes/Theme Colors.


With the downloaded XML Color Scheme files in place, the custom Color Schemes are now available in your PowerPoint application. To select one of the custom Color Schemes go to the Design Tab > Colors and select the Color Theme you want.

What else to consider for a professional PowerPoint design?

Just as important as the Color Scheme of your presentation is the selected Text Font. As there is only a limited range of standard fonts available on Windows and Mac OSX by default, you should consider to add a more modern and professional looking text font to be used in PowerPoint. We prepared a hand-picked Selection of the Most Trending and Free Text Fonts for you and show you how to install them in a few seconds in our Guide on how to install new Text Fonts for PowerPoint.