Styles & Appearance

Styles & Appearance

Dark Style

Libadwaita applications can use a light or a dark appearance. This can be used to request a darker UI, or to support a system-wide dark style preference if one exists.

By default, applications use light appearance unless the system prefers dark appearance, matching the ADW_COLOR_SCHEME_PREFER_LIGHT color scheme. The AdwStyleManager:color-scheme property allows to change this behavior when set to:

  • ADW_COLOR_SCHEME_PREFER_DARK: Use dark appearance unless the system prefers light appearance.
  • ADW_COLOR_SCHEME_FORCE_DARK: Always use dark appearance.
  • ADW_COLOR_SCHEME_FORCE_LIGHT: Always use light appearance.
App \ System Prefer Light No Preference Prefer Dark
FORCE_LIGHT Light Light Light
PREFER_LIGHT Light Light Dark
PREFER_DARK Light Dark Dark
FORCE_DARK Dark Dark Dark

Common use cases:

  1. An application wants to use dark UI. Use the ADW_COLOR_SCHEME_PREFER_DARK color scheme.

  2. An application has a style switcher with the system, light and dark states. Use the following color scheme values:


If the system does not provide a style preference, the AdwStyleManager:system-supports-color-schemes property can be used to provide a fallback. For example, applications with a system/light/dark switcher may want to hide or disable the system value.

All standard GTK and Libadwaita widgets automatically support both styles. Applications that use custom drawing or styles may need to ensure the UI remains legible in both appearances:

Accent Color

Libadwaita applications follow the system accent color by default. Applications with custom drawing or styles may need to ensure that they use the actual accent color instead of harcoding blue:

Applications can override the accent color using CSS, as follows:

:root {
  --accent-bg-color: var(--accent-green); /* Always use the green color */

Accent can also be overridden for an individual widget. In this case --accent-color must be manually overridden as well:

my-widget {
  --accent-bg-color: var(--accent-purple); /* Always use the purple color */
  --accent-color: oklab(from var(--accent-bg-color) var(--standalone-color-oklab));

All of the default accent colors use white text as the foreground color. If the custom accent color is too bright, use a dark foreground color instead:

:root {
  --accent-bg-color: var(--yellow-3);
  --accent-fg-color: rgb(0 0 0 / 80%);


When accent color is overridden, AdwStyleManager API will still return the system color.

High Contrast

The system can provide a high contrast preference. Libadwaita applications automatically support it; applications cannot disable it.

High contrast appearance can be combined with the dark style and is independent from it.

All standard GTK and Libadwaita widgets automatically support the high contrast appearance. Applications that use custom drawing or styles may need to support it manually.

  • Use style classes such as .dim-label instead of changing widget opacity manually.

  • Use the helper variables when possible, instead of hardcoding colors and opacities.

  • The AdwStyleManager:high-contrast property can be used to check the current appearance.

  • AdwApplication allows loading additional styles for high contrast appearance via the style-hc.css and style-hc-dark.css resources.

Custom Styles

AdwApplication provides a simple way to load additional styles from GResource, relative to the application’s base path (see g_application_set_resource_base_path()).

The following resources will automatically be loaded if present:

  • style.css contains styles that are always used.
  • style-dark.css contains styles only used with the dark appearance.
  • style-hc.css contains styles used with the high contrast appearance.
  • style-hc-dark.css contains styles used when both dark and high contrast

Styles are stacked on top of each other: when using dark appearance, both style.css and style-dark.css are loaded, and so on.

See Also