I'm using Ubuntu, and I'm having trouble reading text in MC and Aptitude because of the color scheme. Is there any way to change it?

3 Answers 3


Maybe a quick fix: mc -b forces no-color mode ;)

You can write your own skins for mc, which include a color scheme. They live in ~/.mc/skins and are selected by mc -S skinname. This article talks a bit about it and has an example available for download at the end.

But maybe the deeper trouble is that your term background is "not the expected color", so another way would be to change how your term displays the 16 "standard colors". (For example, this would make all formerly-green items purple, if that's better for you from a contrast standpoint.) How this is done depends on your terminal emulator, for example XFCE's Terminal has it in its preferences dialog, for xterm you probably need to edit a configuration file etc.

  • 4
    Link seams to be dead. Adding an example directly to the answer would be nice.
    – MrSmith42
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 9:33
  • Q idea how to start nocolor by default?
    – Bruno
    Commented Jul 7, 2019 at 0:03
  • alias mc="mc -b" in your terminal or your login script. Commented Jan 5, 2022 at 7:02

From the changelog:

Version 4.8.0-pre1

WARNING: Configuration files was moved from your $HOME/.mc directory into XDG_CONFIG_* directories to respect FDO standard (http://standards.freedesktop.org/basedir-spec/basedir-spec-0.7.html)

mcedit .config/mc/ini
search for skin with F7
skin=modarin256 is really nice for example :) Look into /usr/share/mc/skins/ to see the different themes.


You can create your own color theme for Aptitude. There is even nice documentation.

As was already said in accepted answer, deeper trouble is in fact that colors are depending on each other, so there is standard terminal color theme you are using and ncurses app theme is build upon that. Thus i.e. aptitude have different "blue" then you may expect.

Here is my yellow/black style, which I design to be high contrast and used with base16_materia terminal theme:

aptitude::UI::Styles "";
aptitude::UI::Styles::MenuBar "";
aptitude::UI::Styles::MenuBar::bg "yellow";
aptitude::UI::Styles::MenuBar::fg "black";
aptitude::UI::Styles::HighlightedMenuBar "";
aptitude::UI::Styles::HighlightedMenuBar::fg "yellow";
aptitude::UI::Styles::HighlightedMenuBar::bg "black";
aptitude::UI::Styles::Header "";
aptitude::UI::Styles::Header::bg "black";
aptitude::UI::Styles::Header::fg "yellow";
aptitude::UI::Styles::Status "";
aptitude::UI::Styles::Status::bg "yellow";
aptitude::UI::Styles::Status::fg "black";
aptitude::UI::Styles::DisabledMenuEntry "";
aptitude::UI::Styles::DisabledMenuEntry::fg "white";
aptitude::UI::Styles::DisabledMenuEntry::bg "black";
aptitude::UI::Styles::MenuEntry "";
aptitude::UI::Styles::MenuEntry::fg "yellow";
aptitude::UI::Styles::MenuEntry::bg "black";
aptitude::UI::Styles::MenuBorder "";
aptitude::UI::Styles::MenuBorder::fg "yellow";
aptitude::UI::Styles::MenuBorder::bg "black";
aptitude::UI::Styles::HighlightedMenuEntry "";
aptitude::UI::Styles::HighlightedMenuEntry::bg "yellow";
aptitude::UI::Styles::HighlightedMenuEntry::fg "black";
aptitude::UI::Styles::MultiplexTab "";
aptitude::UI::Styles::MultiplexTab::bg "cyan";
aptitude::UI::Styles::MultiplexTab::fg "black";
aptitude::UI::Styles::MultiplexTabHighlighted "";
aptitude::UI::Styles::MultiplexTabHighlighted::bg "black";
aptitude::UI::Styles::MultiplexTabHighlighted::fg "yellow";

Just add it to the end of ~/.aptitude/config file.

  • You mean, add a file /etc/apt/conf.d/01aptitude-local.conf. Commented Sep 19, 2023 at 15:23

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