Consonance, an IDA color scheme



Some say that in reversing, colors don’t matter. I don’t know, but to me that’s like saying that in programming, colors (i.e. syntax highlighting) doesn’t matter. But seriously, who codes without syntax highlighting today?

Colors are a form of pattern recognition, and seeing basic blocks, or functions, have a certain color, or more precisely, a certain amount of a type of color, triggers something in the brain that aids in the understanding process. At least, I believe so.

Also, I feel that colors should have some form of consistency, so that patterns stand out.

Hence, i created Consonance, a dark color scheme for IDA. I called it Consonance to mean consistence, congruence.

For instance, the following should be themed:

  1. Registers (general-purpose, segment) (pale blue)
  2. Data addresses, names and cross-references (cream)
  3. Function addresses, names and cross-references (orange)
  4. Comments, and variants of comments (repeatable, anterior, posterior, function, automatic) (pink)
  5. Library functions (cyan)
  6. Imported names (bright pink)
  7. Strings and characters (green)
  8. Numbers (red)
  9. Errors (bright red)
  10. Many more…

Finally, that consistency should be reflected in the navigation bar as well.

More than just common subsets of elements, the overall theme should have a design consistency as well. The theme color is chrome/orange. And this is reflected, in varying shades, in the active basic block highlight, the highlighted arrows, and so on.

Also, in any case, if you reverse and use IDA on a daily basis, setting up the colors to look that much nicer also has a benefit to you, in terms of just making things more pleasant.

All in all, I thought to share my IDA color scheme here. Problem is, IDA doesn’t give a generalized method of extracting configuration, and also because IDA stores the color configuration, among other things, in the registry, I’m distributing the color scheme in the form of a registry file. Obviously, this is for Windows.

Update: IDA 6.4 and possibly later versions of IDA support the direct import and export of color themes. As such, I have also provided the exported version of Consonance. This is in the form of a .clr file. If you have a suitably latest version of IDA, please use this.

Here’s how it looks like, so you can get a sense before you pull it. It’s based on a dark background (very dark gray). Comments are always welcome!


Please remember to backup your current settings, if you’re using the registry file, and in case you wish to remove the theme. As usual, because IDA stores its configuration in the registry, the key you need to backup is: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Hex-Rays\IDA.

Just pop open registry editor (regedit/regedt32), navigate to that key, and export it.