Black text on a white background isn’t just boring, it’s blinding. When you’re using your phone or computer at night, the last thing you need is a bright screen torching your eyeballs. Turning the brightness to less than zero can help, but thankfully, companies have begun falling over themselves to add new ways to darken their apps. If that appeals to you, here’s how to “Dark Mode” all the things.
Windows 10 has had a dark mode for a while, but for a long time it only affected the settings panel and the Microsoft Store. With the release of its October 2018 Update, Microsoft extended those grey backgrounds to the File Explorer as well, inching a bit closer to system-wide darkness. Couple that with a dark wallpaper and a black taskbar and you’ve got the beginnings of a desktop you might actually want to use at night. Just open the Settings app and head to Personalization > Colors and switch the theme to “Dark” to turn it on.
If you’re a Mac user, the latest version of macOS (known as 10.14 “Mojave”) has a dark mode that should affect your menu bar and plenty of apps, whether they’re built-in or added on. To switch it on, open System Preferences and click the “General” pane. At the top of the window, choose “Dark” for your appearance, and everything should change immediately. You can read more about how Apple’s Dark Mode works here.
Google Chrome and Firefox
Darkening your browser is easy. Both Chrome and Firefox hook directly into the dark modes offered by Windows 10 and macOS Mojave, so if you switch your operating system to dark mode, your browser should automatically follow. This feature is currently in beta testing for use with Windows, so while it may not work for everyone just yet, it should roll out to all users soon.
If you prefer to enable Dark Mode on its own, Firefox allows you to switch it on manually by right-clicking the title bar, choosing “Customize,” and going to Themes > Dark. Other browsers have their own separate dark modes too, including Microsoft Edge and Opera, which you can find in their respective settings menus.
iPhone and iPad
Unfortunately, Apple has yet to roll out a true dark mode for iOS, but a lot of apps have their own built in (which we’ll talk about in a moment). If you’re not satisfied by that, there is one trick you can use at night to make your Apple device more night-friendly.
You might know about the “Invert Colors” option that makes your iPhone’s screen look like a photo negative—it’s been around forever. But Apple has improved this feature in the past few years, adding a new “Smart Invert” feature that aims to darken the phone without making the color shift quite as jarring. You can turn this on by heading to Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations > Invert Colors and turning on “Smart Invert.”
You can also create a shortcut for this color change by going back to the Accessibility menu, selecting “Accessibility Shortcut” at the bottom of the list, and checking “Smart Invert Colors.” With that checked, you can triple-click your home button to turn on Smart Invert at a moment’s notice.
Every Android phone is a little different, thanks to version fragmentation and the various manufacturer skins companies such as Samsung add to their phones. If your phone is running the latest version of Android (9.0 “Pie”), you can head to Settings > Display and change your device theme to “Dark.” It’s not exactly pretty, as this feature is still in beta testing, and it still doesn’t affect every corner of the operating system. The Settings app, for example, remains white.
You can darken a few other portions of the system—though again, not all—with a secret “Night Mode” hidden in the Developer Options. Open the Settings app, enter the “About Phone” menu, and tap the “Build Number” option seven times. After that, head to Settings > System > Advanced > Developer Options to turn this mode on. With any luck, Google will consolidate and improve this feature in future versions of Android, but for now, it helps a little.
Again, Android can differ from phone to phone, so poke around in your own device’s settings to see if it offers something similar. We can’t cover every possible Android phone here, but if your phone has a dark mode, chances are it’s somewhere in that Settings app.
All Your Favorite Apps and Sites
The above settings will cover the main operating systems, but a ton of apps offer their own dark modes, or something similar. Here are a few of the most common ones:
Gmail: On the web, you can choose a dark theme by clicking the settings gear in the corner and heading to Themes. The Dark and Terminal themes are good options, though your emails will still appear on a white background when you open them. Sadly, there is no dark mode for the mobile apps just yet.
Facebook Messenger: Facebook originally soft-launched Messenger’s dark mode with an adorable secret trick that required you to send a friend the crescent moon emoji (?) in a chat. Now, however, you can simply head into your settings (using the menu on a computer or by tapping your profile picture in the mobile app) and toggle the “dark mode” switch to on.
Twitter: Twitter recently updated this feature, and you can find its Dark Mode under Settings > Display and Sound. There are now two versions: Dim, which turns things a deep navy blue, and Lights Out, which turns them pitch-black. The latter will save battery on phones with OLED screens that turn black pixels off entirely, such as the iPhone X and Xs.
YouTube: YouTube gets a gold star for its Dark Mode feature, which is available on both the web and its mobile apps. On the web, just click your profile image in the upper-right corner and click the Dark Theme option. On the mobile app, open “Apps Settings” from your profile picture. On iOS, the option should be right there, while on Android it’ll be under the “General” sub-menu.
Reddit: If you’re a heavy Reddit user, you can enable its dark mode on the web by clicking your username and toggling Night Mode on. If you’re using the mobile app, you’ll find this mode on the main Settings page, though you can also use third-party Reddit apps like Narwhal or Reddit Is Fun, which contain lots of useful features and their own dark modes.
Slack: The Slack mobile app offers a Dark Mode from its Settings menu, accessible via the three dots in the upper-right corner. Their desktop dark mode is still “coming soon.”
PlayStation 4: There’s no official dark mode, but you can choose a darker theme from Settings > Themes.
Xbox One: Press the Xbox button on your controller, select Settings, and head to Personalization > Theme and Motion. From there, you can switch Dark Mode on.
Nintendo Switch: Navigate to the Switch’s System Settings from the main menu, then head to Themes and turn the Basic Black option on.
Everywhere Else: You’re probably starting to get the idea. If you have a favorite app not listed here, check its settings and see if it supports a dark mode. Plenty do, including Wikipedia, Instapaper, Pocket, IMDB, Waze, countless weather apps, and more. Dark websites are a bit rarer, but some browser extensions (like Dark Mode or Dark Theme for Chrome) can alter many of the websites you visit.
Dark modes are still not completely ubiquitous, but their popularity has come a long way in just a year or two. With any luck, holdout apps will get on board in the next few months and our eyes will remain fresh as we avoid sleep by fiddling with our phones late into the night.