Set Default Admin Colour For All Users

The question:

I am surprised with the new colour scheme for 3.8 and although the classic 3.7 theme has gone, I would like to set the new “Light” colour scheme as the default for all users, but at the same time, still allow them to change the theme if they wish, in their user profile.

Has anyone managed to come up with a function to set the default for all users? I’ve searched but can find nothing as this is so new, 3.8 codex not fully written.

The Solutions:

Below are the methods you can try. The first solution is probably the best. Try others if the first one doesn’t work. Senior developers aren’t just copying/pasting – they read the methods carefully & apply them wisely to each case.

Method 1

You can set (in terms of force) a default color within functions.php like this:

add_filter( 'get_user_option_admin_color', 'update_user_option_admin_color', 5 );

function update_user_option_admin_color( $color_scheme ) {
    $color_scheme = 'light';

    return $color_scheme;

Update: The following color schemes are available per default at WP 3.8

  • fresh
  • light
  • blue
  • coffee
  • ectoplasm
  • midnight
  • ocean
  • sunrise

Bonus (found on wpmudev): Disable the Admin Color Scheme Options to make sure that users can not switch back to another color:

remove_action( 'admin_color_scheme_picker', 'admin_color_scheme_picker' );

Update 2: As Rarst pointed out the filter above will force a specific color scheme instead of setting a changeable default. The solution to this is to run an action only once (e.g. on user setup/registration) so after that the user can decide and change the color on his own:

add_action( 'user_register', 'myplugin_registration_save', 10, 1 );
function myplugin_registration_save( $user_id ) {

       update_user_meta($user_id, 'admin_color', 'light');


Update 3: Okay, so one more try 🙂

The idea is to add extra user meta data (see custom_admin_color_scheme) as soon as the user updates the profile; as long as the field is not set to true we’ll change the default admin color scheme to a color scheme of our choice:

// add custom user meta data
add_action('personal_options_update', 'save_custom_admin_color_optios');
function save_custom_admin_color_optios( $user_id ) {

    update_user_meta($user_id, 'custom_admin_color_scheme', true);


// change default color scheme if not customized
$customized_color_scheme = get_user_option( 'custom_admin_color_scheme', get_current_user_id() );
if ( empty($customized_color_scheme) ) {

    update_user_meta(get_current_user_id(), 'admin_color', 'light');


Update 4: Finally there is also a very nice plugin on to handle default admin color schemes easily: Default Admin Color Scheme

Method 2

the add_filter( 'get_user_option_admin_color', ...) sets the color, but it doesn’t remove the option from my-profile page. So, if you want to enforce (and block) any modification by user:

    remove_action("admin_color_scheme_picker", "admin_color_scheme_picker"); 

If you also need to set that when user registers, then :

add_action('user_register', 'my_func');
function my_func($user_id) {
    $args = array(
        'ID' => $user_id,
        'admin_color' => 'ectoplasm'
    wp_update_user( $args );

All methods was sourced from or, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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