my world of work and user experiences

July 31, 2015

Change the look of a SharePoint site back to the default

Filed under: Office365 — Tags: — frederique @ 20:12

In SharePoint and now in Office 365, owners can change the look of their sites. You can make these changes easily, without any programming skills. This is great for organisations that want to customize their sites. But once you have done that, how can you get back to the default look, if you want to undo your design experiments?

Style your Office 365: Office 365 themes

Office 365 offers the opportunity to change the look & feel of your environment in an easy way. As an Administrator, you can set colours, a logo and a background image for the navigation bar at the top of each page. You will find the options in: Admin > Company Profile > Custom theming. (See also Microsoft’s support article)

O365 Custom theming

Office 365 custom theming in the Admin

This look applies to all elements of Office 365: the SharePoint Online sites, but also your OneDrive, Outlook Online etc. By the way, it does take a while before the changed look & feel trickles down to them all – more along the lines of half an hour than 5 minutes. And it does not appear everywhere at the same time. My OneDrive for Business was already updated, while Outlook and SharePoint Online were lagging behind. It helped to close and re-open the browser; that triggered the update of the new look in Outlook.

Undo the styling on your Office 365: back to the Microsoft default

If you regret your custom theming (like in my example screenshot, which is pretty awful…), you can simply get rid of it and go back to the original Microsoft look & feel. You do that on that same page in the Admin section: Admin > Company Profile > Custom theming and at the bottom click Remove custom theming.

Apply your Office 365 style to a deviant site: back to your default

Site owners can also change the look of their particular site in SharePoint Online, via Site settings > Look and feel: Change the look.

SharePoint -  Change the look

Change the look of a SharePoint Online site

Now if the site owner has changed the look of his or her site, then that site won’t pick up the new look that you have just set at the level of Office 365. This is what I encountered recently: a site owner had been experimenting with a site. But then we wanted to get rid of those experiments once we had set up the official style in Office 365.

This is how you do that for a site: you reset the look of a SharePoint Online site via the same Site settings > Look and feel: Change the look. The look that you have to select to get back to the default is called Office. At first, it seems you are getting the blue Microsoft default look.

SharePoint - Change the look to Office

Change the look of the SharePoint site to the one called Office

But when you try it out in a preview, it turns out to be the look that you have set up yourself as the default look for your Office 365 environment.

SharePoint - Preview of the look called Office

Preview of the look called Office: this is the Office 365 custom theming look.

So you can experiment with the look of your environment at your heart’s content, because you can always go back to the default look.

Personal favourite Office 35 theme

If you have set an Office 365 theme for your organisation’s environment, and you have brought back deviant SharePoint Online sites back into that look, you still need to take into account the users’ personal option to select a favourite theme.

By default, the user can select a theme like the ‘Super sparkle happy’ rainbow theme via the cogwheel > Office 365 settings > Theme.

Office 365 theme - personal favourite

Select your favourite theme for your personal Office 365 experience

If it is important in your organisation that users share in the official Office 365 theme experience, then you can deny them the “rainbows”. As an administrator, go to Admin > Company Profile > Custom theming and check the checkbox Prevent users from overriding custom theming with their own theme at the bottom of the page.

Then the users are still able to ignore your theme and select a basic, high-contrast theme that is optimized for accessibility: it is easier to read than my fancy custom theme. But that is still available to the users and they can switch back to the default theme.

Office 365 theme - High-contrast theme is still available

High-contrast theme available as the only alternative to the custom theme set in Office 365.

This setting stops users from selecting a “rainbow theme” as their personal Office 365 theme, but it does not stop SharePoint Online site owners from changing the look of their site.


  1. Thank you! All the other search results were instructions on how to customize the theme, but this was the only one showing how to change it back. Very helpful, appreciated.

    Comment by Jack — July 25, 2019 @ 17:46

  2. Yes Frederique,
    you are the only one telling us that the default theme is just called: Office.
    Thank you so much.
    Groetjes uit Florida. Dank je wel 😉

    Comment by Marcel Spitz — September 12, 2019 @ 13:25

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress