What is macOS Dark Mode and how do I enable it?

What is macOS Dark Mode
The moody Dark Mode background

It may sound sinister, but the newest feature in macOS – which comes in the Mojave update – is a well-thought-out tool that helps to reduce eyestrain. Here’s how to enable macOS Dark Mode.

What is macOS Dark Mode?

Why bother with Dark Mode? Boiled down, it’s designed to reduce the impact of late-night “blue light”. This is when you use your machine shortly before you go to sleep and essentially fool your brain into thinking that it’s still day. The consequences aren’t great, to say the least: eyestrain, disrupted sleep patterns and stress.

While the concept of a dedicated “dark mode” isn’t new, Apple has implemented it brilliantly. Here, macOS reduces the screen’s brightness by turning the windows, desktop background and toolbars grey – and it works brilliantly.

What is macOS Dark Mode?

I’ve had Dark Mode as my default Appearance for a couple of days now and it has made an immediate difference: reaching over to manually turn down the screen’s brightness is a thing of the past and late-night browsing no longer makes me blink like a newly surfaced mole.

If that sounds good, read on to find out how to enable macOS Dark Mode – whether you’ve already installed Mojave or not.

How to enable macOS Dark Mode

First, if you haven’t already, you’ll need to download and install the Mojave update – something we’d always recommend doing anyway.

Luckily, Apple makes this as simple as possible: simply follow the pop-up when it appears in the top-right of your screen or head to the App Store and click “Install” underneath the huge Mojave banner on the homepage. You can’t miss it. 

After you’ve clicked Install, follow the instructions. If you don’t have enough disk space, you won’t be able to continue, meaning it might be time for a long-overdue autumn clean (I’m speaking from experience here). Once that’s done, make a pot of tea rather than a cup, because it’ll take around 30 minutes while Mojave installs and your machine is restarted.

What is macOS Dark Mode?

When it’s finished, macOS will spring into life and give you the option to “Choose your look” and enable Dark Mode straight away (see my blurry photo above). Select Dark Mode and you’re finished – your eyes will thank you later. If, on the other hand, you’d rather start with the traditional look then choose Light Mode and finish the process.

To enable Dark Mode at a later date, go to System Preferences | General and toggle the option at the top of the window. 

What is macOS Dark Mode?

A Chrome tweak

After you’re set up with Dark Mode, you’ll notice that certain apps also turn grey – but others don’t. You can see which tools will work best by going to the App Store and clicking on the “Apps that look great in Dark Mode” list, which includes big-hitters such as Spark, 1Password, Todoist, Shazam, Simplenote, Pages and some paid-for options.

What is macOS Dark Mode?

But there’s a big omission: Google Chrome. Chances are that, if you’re using your Mac late at night, you’re idly browsing, checking Twitter/Facebook, watching endless YouTube videos or reading the news. 

However, there is a way to stop Chrome sticking out like a bright sore thumb: SemanticZoom has developed an extension that will grey-out your Chrome windows and tabs, making them  “seamlessly blend into macOS Mojave’s Dark Mode”.

What is macOS Dark Mode?

In practice, it works well and means that the contrast isn’t so jarring. The only downside is that you’ll have to switch it off if you want to return to the Light…

READ NEXT: How do I take a screenshot on a Mac?

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Max Figgett

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