Dark Mode

Gone will be the nights in which you shield your eyes from the retina-melting display of your phone in the darkness. Gone will be the strain on your peepers from staring at a bright monitor for hours after midnight. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to join the dark side.

“Dark modes” for computers and smartphones alike are receiving a generous amount of hype and support over a short amount of time. While it has all the red flags of being a potential fad, one has to stop and ask themselves whether or not essentially reversing the contrast of your display is actually better for your eyes. The truth is that, really, it all depends (ironically) on the level of light everywhere else around you but your display. Ambient light will dictate whether or not a dark mode is truly a good decision. Generally, research has indicated that humans really prefer a positive polarity for reading (that is, dark text against a bright background), regardless of how aesthetically appealing a negative polarity is. However, if you’re in a dark environment, display brightness can cause eye strain (which is why there are so many dark themes for programming environments). Long story short, if the sun is shining and wherever you are happens to be brightly lit, a dark mode is actually going to be worse for your eyes. But if it’s the middle of the night and your middle-school mishaps are keeping you up, a dark mode is the best way to go.

Converting Your Smartphone To The Dark Side

That being said, this guide is for those who don’t go outside very often and live in what can only be considered a cave. There are plenty of us out there, don’t worry. To start things off, phones are probably just a little bit more relatable than computers, so they’re getting covered first. Fret not: computer tutorials are inbound as well.

Both Apple and Android have yet to fully join the dark side by default. Apple has no “official” dark mode for the iPhone’s user interface yet, but you can do a decent job at faking it using the “invert colors” option in the accessibility settings. Just head over to the settings, tap accessibility and then “display accommodations,” and enable “smart invert.” It may be a little wonky, but it’s certainly better than nothing.

Android finally added an official dark mode with the latest version (9.0 Pie). It works for basic user interface graphics native to the phone like the volume adjustment pop-up and the app drawer (as well as various menus), but in terms of everything else, it does nothing. To enable it, head over to the settings. From there, open up the display settings, and tap on “Advanced.” You can now change the theme to dark under “Device theme.”

That’s about all you can do unless you’re willing to void the warranty of your phone. Assuming that nobody here wants to do something like that, there are several apps that are taking it upon themselves to implement a dark mode for themselves. These apps are Gmail, YouTube, Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook Messenger. For all of these, the dark mode is accessible via the settings. That list isn’t necessarily the entire thing, either: be sure to check the settings of every app that you wish had a dark mode because, after all, they might have one.

Dark Modes For Computers

Windows 10 and Mac OS both have official dark modes that work well for the system UI. To enable it in Windows, open up the personalization settings and go to the color options. For Mac OS, go to the system preferences and click on the tab that says “General.” The dark theme option is right there.

When it comes to browsing the internet, both Chrome and Firefox have dark themes in the options, but they only affect the UI native to the application. All of the websites you visit will still burn your eyes. This can be fixed by installing the “Dark Reader” extension from the Chrome Web Store or Extensions page for Firefox. It’s not perfect and it may cause some performance issues, but it’s certainly a giant leap closer to the dark side.