The two products are very much alike it’s only that the Editor is more feature-packed and includes an updated interface (ribbon menu & touch optimized UI). The PDF Editing features however require one to buy a licence, otherwise the rest of the features are free.
That said, for what we want to do here today you don’t have to upgrade to the new PDF Editor. The features we’ll be making use of are exactly the same in both.
Personally I got interested in changing the background color of PDF as I realized the bright white that’s universally used in PDFs is very hard on the eyes. It’s simply not the best experience especially when reading a book without a blue light filter.
Fortunately, PDF-Xchange does provide us with options to customize the background and font colors.
This is however temporary and does not change the actual background color in the PDF. It merely overrides the colors used.
To change the actual background color, editing the PDF is necessary. You can do this on PDF-XChange Editor by going to
Organize > Background > Add > From Color.
This particular feature however requires a license to use, otherwise DEMO stamps are going to be placed on the if you save the document on the free version.
Likewise, the colors cannot be overridden if the PDF is composed of images, such as scanned documents.
Customize PDF Background Color
- Go to the program’s preferences by pressing Ctrl+K on your keyboard.
- In the settings category, click on Accessibility.
- At the top, enable the option Override Document Colors.
- Now we can use a pre-defined color scheme, or we can create one for ourselves. The pre-defined ones include one that adapts to the color scheme you use on Windows and then a couple of high-contrast schemes (Green Text on Black Background, Yellow Text on Black Background etc.).
- To create a custom color scheme, just select your color preferences under Page Background color and Text color. If your PDF has lines, you can also set the colors for the Line Art.
- After you’re done defining the colors, click on the Apply button then Ok. If you had a PDF opened, the new color scheme should take effect. From now on every PDF you open will use that color scheme.
- To toggle the color scheme on or off while reading any document, just use the shortcut Ctrl+Shift+6. Alternatively, you can add a toggle button in the toolbar by opening the Customize Toolbars… option, go to the Commands tab then search for Override Document Colors. You can then drag the command anywhere you want it in the toolbar.
Defining a Color Scheme
I’ve found that black text on warm background colors (e.g. beige, light orange, gold, rose, light yellow etc.) works best for me. I also tend to highlight PDFs and these schemes work well with that.
With these colors you don’t have to worry about some elements not being visible if the original background is in white, which is typically the case for most PDFs.
A black background with white text will give you a proper dark mode, however some elements may not be visible and highlighting will be rendered useless.
To avoid this, you can enable the option Change the color of black text or Line Art only. This option will make the highlights (when original text is in black) and line art visible when using dark backgrounds.
If you find this option renders some elements invisible, disable it and consider using grayish backgrounds as a compromise for total black.
Now, if you’re like me, you may also consider going a step further and changing the color scheme of the program’s UI.
UPDATE: PDF-XChange version 9 has added a dark mode feature for the program’s UI. To activate it, go to
Preferences > Customize UI > Theme and either set it to Black or check the option ‘Allow dark mode from System‘ if you’re using the dark mode on Windows.
This way you can have an overall color scheme or a night-mode as it’s in my case. To do that, in the Preferences go to Customize UI and select the colors you wish for the Window, Text, Face etc.
A Dark Gray/Black for Window, White/Light Gray for Text and Dark Gray/Black for Face as shown below yields a night mode which, when combined with a warm PDF color background, makes for a reading experience that’s very easy on the eyes.
You can play around with the colors and find what works best for you. There’s a Reset button there should you wish to revert to the original scheme. Cheers!