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Creating and Applying Themes for Embedded Dashboards

Customizing themes for embedded dashboards is a feature that must be enabled by Looker. Please contact your account manager to update your license for this feature.

The options for custom themes continue to grow as we add more functionality. When we add an option for custom themes, any existing themes will be assigned the default value for the new option. The default value can then be modified using the theme editor. To see what’s new, check in with the Custom Theme Settings section below, or check here for the list of settings supported for themes.


From the Themes page in the Platform section of the Admin panel, you can define themes for embedded dashboards:

Themes are a way to customize the appearance of your embedded Looker dashboards. You can use themes to customize font family, text color, background color, and tile color.

For example, you can create a “dark” theme to really change the appearance of your embedded dashboard:

Default Theme

The Looker default theme is created automatically on your instance, and it cannot be deleted or edited. The Looker theme settings, which you can see by clicking the Edit button beside the theme or by creating a copy of the theme, are:

Dashboard Page:
Font Family: “Open Sans”, “Noto Sans JP” (Japanese), “Noto Sans CJK KR” (Korean), “Noto Sans Arabic UI” (Arabic), “Noto Sans Devanagari UI” (Devanagari), “Noto Sans Hebrew” (Hebrew), “Noto Sans Thai UI” (Thai), Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif, “Noto Sans”
Font Source: none
Background Color: #f6f8fa

These fonts are served by the Looker applications and are recommended because they will be available both in browsers and when rendering images. Looker uses the first font in the font family list that supports a character, so the higher priority or specialized fonts should be listed first. Looker uses the “UI” variations of fonts when available so that characters are slightly modified to better fit within the boundaries of visual components.

Dashboard Tiles:
Title Color: #3a4245
Text Color: #3a4245
Text Tile Body: none
Tile Background Color: #ffffff

Dashboard Components:
Display Dashboard Title: yes
Display Filters Bar: yes

Below is an example of a dashboard with the Looker theme:

The Looker theme is used as the default theme unless a Looker admin specifies another theme as the default.

How Themes and Embed Settings Are Applied to a Dashboard

You can change an embedded dashboard’s appearance from the default theme by using embed settings and custom themes. When displaying an embedded dashboard, Looker applies settings in the following order:

  1. Begin with the settings from the default theme.
  2. Apply customizations from the Edit Embed Settings option of the dashboard’s gear menu, if any.
  3. Apply settings from the custom theme specified in the theme argument of the URL, if any.
  4. Apply properties specified in the _theme URL argument, if any.

Each item overrides the previous item(s), meaning that the embed settings override the default theme settings, and custom themes override the embed settings and the default themes.

However, in the case of the _theme URL argument, only the elements specified in the _theme argument override elements from the other themes or from the embed settings. The rest of the custom theme settings and embed settings will still be used. For example, if you add the _theme={"show_filters_bar":false} argument in the embedded dashboard’s URL, the filters bar will not be displayed, even if you have turned on Show Filters in the embed settings or in a custom theme. But the other settings from the custom theme or embed settings will still be used.

Creating a Custom Theme

To create a custom theme, click Add Theme:

Except for the theme’s title, which must be unique, all of the fields are automatically filled in with the values from the default theme. You can change any of the settings, which are described in the Custom Theme Settings section below. Click Save Theme to keep your changes and save your new theme.

Custom Theme Settings

When you add, edit, or copy a theme, you will see the following settings:


Dashboard Page

Dashboard Tiles

Button Colors

Dashboard Controls

Be sure to click Save Theme to keep your theme settings.

Copying a Theme

You can copy an existing theme by clicking on the theme’s menu and selecting Copy Theme:

When you make a copy of a theme, the new theme’s name defaults to the name of the copied theme, followed by “(copy)”. Be sure to manually change this name to a new, unique name with only alphanumeric characters and underscores, and be sure to remove the parentheses.

You can edit the rest of the settings just as you would when you create a new theme. For a description of the settings, see Custom Theme Settings above. Be sure to click Save to keep all of your theme settings.

Editing a Theme

The Looker theme is created automatically on your instance, and it cannot be edited. (If you want to modify the Looker theme, you can instead create a copy of the theme and then edit the copy.)

For all other themes, you can click the associated Edit button to update theme settings:

You can edit the settings just as you would when you create a new theme. For a description of the settings, see Custom Theme Settings above. Be sure to click Save to keep your updates.

Setting a Default Theme for Embedded Dashboards

To specify the default theme for the embedded dashboards on your instance, click on a theme’s menu and select Set as Default:

The default theme is used for embedded dashboards on your Looker instance, unless you specify different settings for an individual dashboard. See this section for more information on how themes and embed settings are applied to an embedded dashboard.

Applying a Theme to Specific Embedded Dashboards

If you want a dashboard to use a theme other than the default theme, you can specify a different theme in the URL of the embedded dashboard. To do this, add the parameter theme= with the name of the theme to the end of the embed URL. For example, if you have a theme called “Red,” you would add theme=Red at the end of your embed dashboard URL like this:


The theme element in the URL is not case sensitive, so you can use either theme=Red or theme=red.

Custom theme settings override any embed settings specified for the dashboard. See this section for more information on how themes and embed settings are applied to an embedded dashboard.

Deleting a Theme

You can delete any theme except the Looker theme or the theme that is currently set as the default. To delete a theme, click on the theme’s menu and select Delete Theme:

After you delete a theme, any embedded dashboard with that theme specified in its URL will use the default theme.

Using the _theme URL Argument to Apply Individual Theme Elements

You can use the _theme URL argument to customize individual theme elements for your embedded dashboard, such as tile_background_color and show_title.

To see all of the supported properties of the _theme object, refer to the list in “ThemeSettings” on the Create Theme API 3.1 documentation page.

Here is the format for the _theme URL argument:


For example, you can use _theme={"show_filters_bar":false} to hide the filters bar of your embedded dashboard. The full URL might look like this:


Use a comma to specify multiple theme properties:


Color values must be in quotes, and can be expressed with the color name, or with the hexadecimal color code. If using a hex code, be sure to use URL encoded version of the # sign, which is %23. For example, both of these URL arguments specify the color red:


Here are some things to consider when using the _theme object for an embedded dashboard: