Office 2007 – Adding Custom Colors to Color Picker

Posted on | September 16, 2010 | 1 Comment

The new color scheme introduced in Office 2007 looks impressive, but personally I feel,  it does lose a bit of important functionality when it comes to Charts. Excel Charts is an important tool in business areas to represent the facts graphically. Excel 2003 has a 56 color set, which allowed user to customize the color as needed, and it will be imparted to the Charts accordingly (i.e, coloring the series).

But in 2007, the new Chart engine doesn’t allow you to define the colors as needed, and it takes lighter tones of the primary 6 colors to be applied to the series. Let’s say, if you have 12 series in a Chart and you want 12 different colors, it’s not possible in 2007 as it applies the first 6 available colors from Themes to the Chart and rest of the 6 colors will be the lighter tones of the first 6 colors.  So, that’s where corporates look for an alternative/workaround to address this problem.

There is a provision to add custom color to the color picker, but it requires a little knowledge of understanding the structure of Office 2007 files. We are not going into the details, but will see the steps involved in getting the work done.

Steps for adding custom colors to the color picker:

Step 1: Editing the .THMX File

Make a copy of the .THMX file (Which is located in C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Document Themes 12).  Let’s say ‘Apex.THMX’.

Rename the ‘Apex.THMX’ to ‘Apex.THMX.ZIP’ and click yes when prompted to change the extension. Now we can open the file like any other ZIP file. Double-click the Apex. THMX.ZIP file and navigate to the theme folder.  You will see another theme folder and double click it to open.  (full path is \ Apex.THMX.ZIP\theme\theme).

Now you will see ‘theme1.xml’ file in the folder, and copy the file paste it on the root folder when you have the ‘Apex.THMX.ZIP’ file.

Step 2: Modifying the theme1. XML File

Open the ‘theme1.xml’ file in ‘Note Pad’ (you can open using any XML editor). Scroll through the end of the file and just above </a:theme> (which is the last line in the file),

Add the below code:

<a:custClr name=”Dark Grey”>
      <a:srgbClr val=”74716A” />
    <a:custClr name=”Dark Teal”>
      <a:srgbClr val=”00685B” />
    <a:custClr name=”Dark Green”>
      <a:srgbClr val=”728220″ />
    <a:custClr name=”Dark Brown”>
      <a:srgbClr val=”846117″ />

This adds a Custom Color section to the color picker and places a 4 rectangle chips. The names inside the double quotes will be displayed as a tool tip text in the color picker.

Note that the custom colors are represented in HEX values, so you need to have the HEX value for each color you needed.  You can find the HEX value using a small utilities like Pixie by Nattyware (

Save the ‘theme1.xml’ file and close it.

Step 3: Replacing the Original theme1.XML File

You need to replace the ‘theme1.xml’ file located in \\theme\theme’. So, copy the modified ‘theme1.xml’ file and paste it inside ‘\\theme\theme’. Click ‘Yes’ when prompted to replace the file.

Close the zip file.

Step 4: Rename and Test the Modified Theme

Rename the file ‘’ to ‘Apex.thmx’ by removing the ‘.zip’. Click yes when prompted to change the file extension. 

Double-click the Apex.thmx file and it will open in PowerPoint. Add any  shape and choose Drawing Tools Format | Shape Fill to see the color picker. Added custom colors should be in the new “Custom Colors” section.


One Response to “Office 2007 – Adding Custom Colors to Color Picker”

  1. Rasmus
    October 19th, 2012 @ 6:10 pm


    This works for
    C:\Documents and Settings\user\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates\PPT.potx

    but not for

    C:\Documents and Settings\user\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates\EXCEL.xltx

    Any ideas why?

    Thanks in advance

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