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Personalize your Office 365 experience by selecting themes

Lawrence Chiu is a senior product marketing manager for the admin experience on Office 365.

Who we are has always been important to both organizations as well as individuals. As organizations, we want to reaffirm our brand and foster positive relationships with our customers. As individuals, we want to show our personalities and preferences. Office 365 will now support your ability to both customize and personalize your Office 365 experience by using themes.

Rolling out over the next few weeks, two types of themes will become available. As an Office 365 admin, you will have the ability to create custom themes for your organization and, at the same time, your users will have the ability to personalize their experience by selecting an Office 365 theme.

Also, we recently rolled out improvements to your navigation and notification experience. The Office 365 top nav bar has been improved to provide quick access to more of your Office 365 services and to show more notifications cross-suite to help you stay connected to your email, reminders, and more.

Strengthen your brand by creating Office 365 custom themes

The goal of branding your organization is to establish a positive association with your organization and positive relationships with your organization’s users. Consistent and repeated visual identity reaffirms your brand. By adding the ability to create a custom theme for your Office 365 environments, Office 365 can help you strengthen your brand visually. You can upload a custom logo and URL, so that your users are only a click away from your websites. You can also reinforce the look and feel of your organization by selecting the colors of the Office 365 nav bar, its menu labels, and the Office 365 logo.

Setting your organization’s custom theme is simple. Click your company hyperlink on the top right hand corner of the Office 365 admin dashboard, right under the top nav bar, and then make your logo, color, and other selections.

Manage custom themes for your organization

Personalize your Office 365 experience by selecting themes

By default, individuals in your organization can personalize their Office 365 environment. You can change the default theme easily by selecting from a list of 22 pre-defined themes. The themes can change the top nav bar and menu colors as well as add a background image, Office 365 logo color, and more.

You set your theme by selecting the settings icon in the top nav bar and clicking Change theme.

Manage custom themes for your organization 2

Updated top nav bar

The recently updated nav bar now appears across your Office 365 environment, giving you the same look and feel regardless of which Office 365 service you’re using.

To give you more visibility into your services and quicker access to them, the updated nav bar dynamically scales to the width of your display. Previously, the maximum number of Office 365 menu items displayed in your top nav bar was six, regardless of how much space was available. With the updated nav bar, the number of Office 365 menu items available dynamically changes depending on the available space. If your window is wide enough, the nav bar displays all of the Office 365 services available to you and your users. If there isn’t enough space to display all the menu items, the menu items drop off the nav bar into the more menu (the ellipsis).

We know you and your users use Office 365 across your devices, so we updated the top nav bar to improve navigation on touch devices, too, by making it slightly taller.

Finally, to give you and your users a more personalized experience, we added a place for your photo. If you have an Exchange mailbox, your photo appears on the updated nav bar now, instead of your name.

nav bar

Stay informed across your services

We made another improvement to your Office 365 environment, too, to help you and your users stay productive. Previously, you and your users would receive notifications only within the service you were using. For example, you would receive new mail messages only when you were using the Outlook Web App and not when you were working in SharePoint Online. You now receive notifications for new mail, reminders, and system alerts in all your Office 365 services.

More to come

With the new Office 365 themes, navigation, and notification improvements, you’ll have new ways to strengthen your organization’s visual identity and maximize the productivity of your users with services that are increasingly easy to use.

Stay tuned to the Office 365 for business roadmap, this blog, and Message Center for more service updates.

—Lawrence Chiu

Frequently asked questions

Q. Which Office 365 plans will get these enhancements?

A. These enhancements will roll out across all Office 365 plans starting today. The rollout will take several weeks to complete.

Q. Can I, the Office 365 admin, disable end-user theming?

A. No. At this time, Office 365 does not support this capability.

Q. Are Lync notifications supported cross-suite?

A. At this time, Lync notifications are supported only when you are in the Outlook, Calendar, and People services.

 

Join the conversation

39 comments

  1. You have the same paragraph pasted two times (around the second image). Otherwise, yay!

  2. In the future, could you PLEASE make these announcements BEFORE they code actually starts rolling out. We have been seeing some of these changes for many days, but did not have any idea what was going on. The Plan For Change section of the Message Center needs to be used more often.

    • I can’t remember exactly where it is, but you can change your experience of updates.
      You might be signed up for early access. Or they might just be slow in getting the info out like you said
      On the road map it’s still in coding and not even in rolling out yet!

        • Dean, thanks for your feedback as always. We are striving to strike the right balance between too many messages and not enough information. We will look into improving this for future releases.

          Gerard and c.marshall, this feature is not part of First Release. It is being rolled out to all tenants. FYI, the First Release setting is found in Service Settings in the Office 365 Admin Center.

    • The reverse is true, of course. Some of the features described above have not yet been rolled out everywhere. I don’t yet see the option to set an organisation’s custom theme.

      Also the Change Theme is currently only changeable in the Outlook app, not other parts of O365; the theme appears in most places once set (but not Yammer, inevitably)

  3. Why did you feel the need to include room for our own photos? I know what I look like. It’s a waste of space.

    There should definitely be a way to prevent regular users from customizing the theme.

  4. “Setting your organization’s custom theme is simple”.
    I don’t see fields to change my logo, color, and other selections, only name and address.
    Why?

      • The feature is still rolling out so it may take several weeks until you see it in your tenant.

        Lawrence

  5. Is there any way at all to reverse the top nav bar changes? It hasn’t been “slightly” adjusted, and instead now is a bright blue bar appearing at the top of every page which looks tacky. Can we not have the option to choose the older, more reasonably sized navigation bar?

    • Hi jashrewsbury. There is no option to revert back to the previous top nav bar. If the standard colors are not suitable, you can pick other ones by changing your theme. Thanks for your feedback.

      Lawrence

  6. I can see the feature has been rolled out. I can change the interface from the admin panel, but the changes only seem to be enabled on “Sites”, “OneDrive”, and all the personal pages (so i assume, only within the underlying SharePoint system), but not on Outlook, People and Calendar. Also i can see that i can change my theme from OWA, Calendar and People as well, but my company theme is not there.

    The split in design (between the OWA/People/Calendar and the OneDrive and Sites parts) is not clear in my opinion. Anything i am doing wrong here?

      • Hi Stvnbrg and ryanrogers,

        When using the Office 365 settings page, there is a potential caching delay when a user theme is set which is why you may see one part of the suite getting the user theme before the rest of the suite. Try logging in and out to refresh the cache. That may help.

        Lawrence

  7. AMAZING FEATURE!

    This is fantastic! Finally Outlook Web App clients can customize with their own enterprise themes!!!!
    Congratulations!
    Now Office 365 is perfect with this feature! And Google Apps is not the only service that allows customization the inbox.

    Thanks Thanks Thanks!

    Office 365 4 Ever.

  8. Hi Lawrence,

    Does the team have plans to let developers add the own links to the Office 365 Nav Bar so our own cloud services can appear seamlessly within the Office 365 work environment?

    DR

  9. Heya!

    The customization feature still isn’t available for us. Is it still rolling out or should it already be available? We have the first release thing turned on.

    Thanks! :-)

    • Hi Tenttu,

      The feature was not part of First Release but it has been fully rolled out as of late last week.

      Just to confirm, you tried accessing it via your company detail link on the Office 365 Admin Center.

      Best Regards,

      Lawrence

      • Hey Ichiu!

        Yes when I click the company details link in the upper right corner, it just takes me to the “company profile” page where I can fill out text boxes and save or cancel and return to dashboard.

        Kind Regards,
        Tenttu

        • I managed to solve the problem! It seems that somehow it didn’t show with Firefox. Must be a cache thing or something. I tried IE and I managed to find the customization page. Thank you for your answer! :)

  10. This feature showed up last week and I was able to test it out however, it was not showing up in my SharePoint site collections. I figured this was a delay so I waited for the weekend to pass but did not see any changes to the SharePoint top navigation menu.

    Is there some kind of setting that needs to be configured on each site collection for the custom theme-ing to work? This is something we already have clients asking for but cannot roll out without it working consistently across all of Office365.

    I also think this is the third or fourth time this question has been asked the comment section, none of which have been replied to.

    • Hi antman786,

      At this time, custom theming is not applied to site collections. Site collections support their own theming.

      We are considering adding this functionality into future releases.

      Best Regards,

      Lawrence

      • I managed to create a custom theme but it is only showing in Office 365 portal and personal sites? How can I unify the company logo, link of the logo and the color/theme of the suite bar so that it would be the same in our intranet site collection too? :-)

        • Hi Tenttu,

          At this time, custom themes are not supported site collections as they support their own custom theming.

          We are considering this for future releases.

          Best Regards,

          Lawrence

          • Hey Ichiu!

            Yes I read that in the previous reply you made but Sharepoint Online custom theming does not allow one to change the Suite Bar logo and link, does it? So in Sharepoint Online we are still stuck with the Office 365 logo that directs into the O365 Portal page when clicked?

            Thanks!

  11. Lawrence,

    After setting up a custom theme there is a border around the custom logo in IE. (IE 11 in this case). It looks fine in the admin theme/setup page but when you go to outlook a blue border shows up around the logo.

    It looks fine in Firefox.

    • Hi dewing,

      Any chance you can share some screenshots and give me the Firefox version and I’ll pass it along.

      Best Regards,

      Lawrence

      • Here is a generic screenshot of the top bar. http://oi62.tinypic.com/ayucfm.jpg

        Notice the grey/blue border around the logo area. This border shows up on the Outlook, Calendar, People, and Tasks tabs. When you’re on Newsfeed, OneDrive, Sites, or the profile/admin screens, it goes away. This is in IE11.

        All screens look fine on Firefox (version 32.0.3).

  12. I would really like to be able to switch the bar off completely for users. We’re using sharepoint online to deploy a series of Access 2013 database web apps, and it’s just a distraction. Plus, I can be sure that way that people aren’t downloading local copies of the database.

    • Hi daniel.finnie,

      Thanks for feedback but at this point, there are no plans to switch the bar off completely.

      We will consider your scenario for future releases.

      Best Regards,

      Lawrence

  13. Our users are noticing something strange re: themes. When they attempt to select one of the standard themes (e.g., cats, circuit board) from Outlook (Gear–>Change theme–>–>Ok), the top Navbar turns into a solid color rather than the selected theme. If we click the “Office365″ on the top left of the Navbar, that’s where the theme is displayed. And from that same Office365 Navbar, it looks like a different set of themes are available (e.g., the cats theme is different).

    Are there different theme sets depending on which Navbar is being used and is it under tenant control to enable/disable themes from within the applications (e.g., Outlook)?

    • Hi Scott,

      Thanks for your feedback. Sorry that it isn’t working properly. Our team is looking into this.

      At this time, the admin cannot disable end users from setting themes within the Office 365 services.

      Best Regards,

      Lawrence