Best Java Swing Look and Feel Themes | Top 10

For Years, Java Swing  has suffered from poor UI colors and designs. Since the support of Java to let people desing their own Themes, it has revamped those old boring UIs.

When we talk about designing look and feel, we know it is about implementing different UI classes for different components.

Today, we can use Synth look and feel, which allow us to customize the look and feel by writing an XML file.

The other way is to use UIManager to load the L&F class directly from classpath. For which the code goes like this:

UIManager.setLookAndFeel("fully qualified name of look and feel");

The Look and Feel Libraries are broadly divided into two categories.

  1. Skinnable
  2. Non-Skinnable

Skinnable look and feel can’t only change the LAF of wigets in your application, but, can also change the look and feel of window title bars and borders. So here are few Professional and Casual themes that you can use to make your application much more attractive and vibrant:

Professional Themes

Nimbus

This is the theme that’s getting a lot of popularity, specially, after Solaris 10 adopted it.

Here’s how you can set it:

UIManager.setLookAndFeel("javax.swing.plaf.nimbus.NimbusLookAndFeel");

Here’s a screenshot:

Substance
Substance has 6 different flavours for the metallic Look an Feel. The Good one is below. You can checkout other color schemes here (though they are not that attractive). Download

Sea Glass
This is relatively anew theme under development. This one is among the best I’ve seen around. It that mocks Mac-kind look inspired by different colored stones. You can checkout the details here.

Info Look And Feel
This one is based on the Metal look and feel. This is the one that you will find in most enterprise or commercial Java Apps. It’s designed to have a slim, clean appearance. It has support for themes. Works best for Windows, though looks decent on KDE as well. Download

Pgs Look And Feel
I would call this a windows and KDE/Gnome hybrid. It aims be a very modern cross-platform LAF with nice features. the UI components are not as-sleek-as-others. Download

Quaqua Look And Feel
The Quaqua LAF is an user interface library which adheres closest to Mac OS X. Download

Casual Themes

Oyaha
This one is a cool and trendy. It’s unique, as it features transparency, sounds and is Skinable. For the cool generations. Download

Liquid Look And Feel
Liquid gives the application a crystal effect on the buttons. It’s based on Mosfet’s Liquid 0.9.6 theme for KDE 3.x. Reminds of Candy theme from StyleXP. Download

JTattoo
JTattoo is skinnable and consists of several different LAF. User can customize the look by choosing among different available color schemes. Download

Make Java applications more attractive, and encourage Open Source, cheers.

I`ll keep on updating the list. Make sure you check back.

Do you know of any others? I`ll be happy to include them. Follow me on Twitter.

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Best Java Swing Look and Feel Themes | Top 10, 8.0 out of 10 based on 50 ratings

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  • http://twitter.com/schipplock Andreas Schipplock

    oh, great and I always thought swing has to look that horrible :)…great post…I perhaps can make use of it…thanks!

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  • http://www.tracemodeler.com/ Yanic

    Synthetica is very nice I think, especially the WhiteVision theme!
    http://javasoft.de/jsf/public/products/synthetica

    It's the one I used for Trace Modeler (check sig link)

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  • ac

    Don't forget JGoodies! http://www.jgoodies.com

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  • Developer Dude

    Some of the L&Fs are nice, and it is nice to know about them, however, 'trendy' is highly overrated and not recommended for most apps. If you look at most non-Java apps, they use the native L&F because they are typically native apps using native UI SDKs. Besides not being the odd person out (and therefore always having some percentage of your target audience reject your app for that reason), there are usability reasons for sticking with the native L&F unless there are compelling reasons to do otherwise (and not just because you think the new look is 'trendy' – actually, trendy is the main trend of native L&F, not something that is different).

    This is a pet peeve of mine because many devs use a non-native/non-standard L&F in their Swing apps and this causes a knee jerk reaction of Java Swing apps in general. Sun has done some hard work to make the native L&Fs look and feel more native for a reason – take advantage of that fact.

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  • Indra

    Most of these Look and Feel are great! Note that Nimbus is out of the box with JDK 6 update 10 and is pretty decent too. The person who said that these look and feel are watchable obviously has no concern for good user interface and is interested only in badmouthing java. Does he realize that a lot of usability experts and developers have put hours of genuine work together behind these look and feel? Labelling them as watchable is an insult to those people. Can he/she show example of some good user interface design instead?

    - Indra

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  • http://solitarygeek.com/ James

    The download link for pgs look and feel is not correct. Pgs look and feel's home page is https://pgslookandfeel.dev.java.net/.

    More over, you can add alloy look and feel, synthetica, nimrod etc to the list

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  • http://www.jinspired.com/ William Louth

    JXInsight uses underneath a Metal Look and Feel with a custom color scheme, config properties, and well thought-out layout and bordering to achieve a look that I think has not been bettered in the Java world (at least in the technology domain we operate in).

    http://www.jinspired.com/products/jxinsight/new
    http://www.jinspired.com/products/jxinsight/new

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  • mmuday

    I second the recommendation for Synthetica, particularly WhiteVision, Simple2D, and BlackEye.
    Also, substance can also look pretty good, particularly with the more subdued skins (e.g., Business Black Steel). There's a lot of attention to detail if you look closely.

    And one more quite respectable commercial L&F, Alloy (which is used with JetBrain's IDE, Idea) http://lookandfeel.incors.com/

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  • Falk Lumo

    Why didn't you include the Alloy L&F from Incors?
    http://lookandfeel.incors.com/

    Agreed, it is from 2003. But it works rather nice ;)

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    • http://www.AugurSystems.com Chris

      I think that one is dead. The web site is long gone, and my emails to the developer now bounce.

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  • Dave

    And trendy look and feel! http://pienoware.com/lookandfeel/

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  • Darshan Namdar

    I have downloaded the above 2 look and feels ,,,,,, but how can i apply those look and feels for my applications ?

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    • Shoaib Ahmed

      yea.. you can use it…. just dont think anything, when you get any jar and also the using policy…

      Shoaib Ahmed

      ATI Limited

      Bangladesh

      email: its.masud .com

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    • Saurabh Kumar Vatsal

      Add these jars to the class path of your project and then use UIManager.setLookAndFeel(“fully qualified name of look and feel”); to set the look and feel .

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  • Louis

    could you update the links to Substance above?

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  • Undefeatedleader

    can u plz tell me how do i apply these downloaded look and feel in my java application///

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  • Shoaib Ahmed

    this is a really great post.. i like all of the theme. at least, all those theme pave the way to mike different looks… thanks for the post…

    Shoaib Ahmed
    ATI Limited
    Bangladesh
    email: its.masud@yahoo:disqus .com

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  • Jay R

    how to add jar file in Netbeans? and pls tell me exactly how to use this lnf in my java desktop application.

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  • Splaktar

    Links for Substance and Info Look And Feel don’t work anymore. Would like to see an update to this article.

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    • Splaktar

      That’s too bad. There really doesn’t seem to be much going on in this
      space anymore. I guess Java has been slowly dying in the UI area ever
      since Oracle took over. It seems to be picking up steam again finally
      with JavaFX 2.x but my company is still stuck on Swing for the time
      being.

      Thanks a lot for the links. I did find some similar information when I
      was researching this. But if I’m going to use something like this, I
      would need a well supported set of libraries. For now we’ll just stick
      with our own old, custom theme and slowly migrate to just using the
      Windows LAF. At least until we can get JavaFx 2.x in play… but we
      might switch over to 100% .NET and drop Java completely by then…

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  • http://twitter.com/Rohanmakkar Rohan Makkar

    Nimbus is the one for me and I think it will look good on all platform, but give user the option to switch themes and they start loving java!

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  • Frank

    I only see 2/10. :(

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  • rayes324

    lots of broken links… i guess that’s what happens to abandonware

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  • olitank

    A new look and feel: LookAndFeelMetalizer
    many many themes available

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  • moi

    Thanks for letting me know about beautyeye. I just started Netbeans with it and it finally looks nice. Great job! :)

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