Emacs is a class of cross-platform and customizable text editors written by Richard Stallman written in 1976. Emacs project is developed under GNU and written in C and Emacs Lisp.

Many types of Emacs exist but the most common ones are XEmacs and GNU Emacs.

To get you inspired while using Emacs while writing texts, source codes or HTML codes, we have Emacs themes.

Emacs themes provide different modes and features for syntax highlighting, text colors, icon colors and more to make coding easy on your eyes and easy to read. Let’s see some of the best Emacs themes that might inspire you to code more.

1. Zenburn

Zenburn for Emacs is one of the Emacs themes ported directly from the Zenburn theme for Vim created by Jani Nurminen. It is one of the best low contrast themes available out there and it is pretty easy on the eyes.

  • Pretty easy on the eyes
  • It is one of the best low contrast themes

2. Solarized for Emacs

Solarized for Emacs was again ported from the solarized theme for Vim developed by Ethan Schoonover. It was only tested on Emacs 24 but expected to work well with Emacs 23 too.

  • The theme is implemented by customizing and need no color-theme-package
  • Uses color palette

3. Spacemacs theme

Spacemacs theme is a light and dark theme for Emacs that supports both GUI and terminal.

  • Works well with 256 color terminals
  • Possible to customize
  • Can override theme colors
  • Green and red colors have two versions each
  • Good support for org-mode

4. Color-theme-sanityinc-tomorrow

Color-theme-sanityinc-tomorrow is a set of Emacs color themes based on Kempson’s ‘Tomorrow’ themes.

  • It has more extensible face definitions than the official Emacs variant.
  • It works with built-in theming support and traditional library add-on

5. Monokai – Emacs themes

Monokai for Emacs is a port of Text mate 2 themes designed with beautiful functionality in mind by Wimer Hazenberg.

  • Built-in theming support
  • Makes Emacs interface beautiful
  • Colour filters
  • Pixel-perfect file icons

6. Gruvbox

Gruvbox Emacs themes’ main focus is to keep colors distinguishable and contrast enough but still remain easy and pleasant to the eyes.

  • Lots of color customization
  • Extended filetype highlighting
  • support a lot of plugins

7. Cyberpunk theme

Cyberpunk is a direct port of the overtone/emacs-live theme with mode-specific customization.


  • Specific modes
  • built-in color theme support – def-theme

8. Ample theme

Ample theme for Emacs provides dark, light and flat versions of themes

  • A triplet of good themes
  • Coloured GUI and a 256 full-colored terminal support

9. Moe theme

Moe theme is a customizable and colorful theme for Emacs.


  • Optimized for the terminal with 256 color palettes
  • Black on white and white on black
  • Different font faces for each different mode
  • Highly customizable

10. Alect themes

Alect themes are configurable custom themes for GNU Emacs. It provides low contrast but still colorful enough.

  • It has alternate themes that can be reversed directly
  • You can override faces if you don’t like

11. Afternoon – one of the Emacs themes

The afternoon is a dark color theme with a deep blue background.

  • Can customize themes

12. Flatland Emacs Theme

Flatland Emacs is a port of the flatland theme that supports sublime text and it was developed by Pixels lab.

  • New built-in theming available since Emacs 24.
  • Customizable

13. Gruber Darker

Gruber Darker is a color theme for Emacs created by Jason Blevins. It was adapted for de-theme and extended by Alexey Kupertov

  • A built-in package manager for ease of installation
  • Highly customizable

14. Clues – Emacs 24 theme

Clue is made up of cool colors with flecks of light, gold, cream, and orange to break the monotony of yellow/gold rainbow

  • Cool colors
  • A better choice for both terminal and GUI

15. Soothe theme – for Emacs themes

Soothe theme is a colorful but muted theme designed for Emacs 24 and later. It has a dark background with light text.

(Cocoa / Mac OS X UI)
  • Colorful but muted
  • Soothe running for a terminal, Mac OS X UI/ Cocoa
  • Easy to install


And that is my list of 15 best Emacs themes for XEmacs and GNU Emacs, to ensure you get inspired to code you need pleasant themes that are easy on the eyes. If you have a better suggestion, feel free to second in the comments section.

Hillary Koech

I am a software engineer with over 5 years of experience, a Linux enthusiast with a passion for article writing and press releases on Information technology.

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Hillary Koech
Tags: emacsthemes

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