dark-mode It cuts down on eye strain, prolongs battery life and it may even be good for your health. So if you haven’t investigated the dark side of operating systems yet, here’s how to do so on Android, iOS, PCs, Macs and even individual apps
Many people will be familiar with the feeling: after hours spent looking at screens your eyes get tired and the white background of just about every web page and app can seem blinding, no matter how low you turn down the brightness.
Dark mode is there to help. It switches the colours of your screens, to give everything a black or dark background with white text and objects. You can use it on your phone or computer, on just specific apps or across a whole operating system.
Fans of dark mode will wax lyrical on the benefits – that it will help eye strain, make text more legible and improve battery life. A (very!) small study of seven people from University of Tuebingen found that light mode could increase risk of myopia, otherwise known as shortsightedness. But when it comes to empirical evidence, large studies are thin on the ground.
While dark mode is good on an older display, it’s great if you have an OLED display (iPhone Xs and 11s). This means that instead of colouring the pixels black, they are simply not lit, allowing for a higher contrast and increased battery-saving potential. If you have an older iPhone, Apple has still gone for a true black theme with dark grey in some places to maintain readability.
Dark mode on Android, or dark theme as Google likes to call it, automatically switches the colours for nearly every Google-owned app. Youtube, Gmail and Chrome will be set to a dark background so you don’t have to worry about suddenly having to squint to read when one of these apps is still bright white.
Dark mode only became available for Android in November 2019 and can only be used on the Android 10 operating system, so older phones won’t be able to use it.
Apple claims “Dark Mode makes it easier to stay focused on your work, because your content stands out while darkened controls and windows recede into the background”. Whether or not this is the case, it is certainly easier on the eye. You can use it on macOS Mojave or later to turn any Apple program dark including Mail, Finder and Notes, as well as any third-party apps that have chosen to adopt it, too.
While dark mode on Windows doesn’t apply to most desktop apps, it will change apps you get from the Windows store. To enable it on Windows 10, head to Settings, then click Personalisation and then Colours. Here you can scroll down to the ‘choose your app mode’ section and select the dark option.
You can also enable dark mode on Microsoft Edge by going to the menu at the top right and selecting Settings. Under the General tab there are options to customise your experience, and here you can ‘Choose a theme’ and pick ‘Dark’.
Certain apps will also allow you to individually choose dark mode. This can be useful if you don’t have the most recent software that allows dark mode across the entire operating system. Spotify has already chosen to have a dark theme across the board, which works well for fans of dark mode.
WhatsApp will change with what you have set your operating system. But if you want to go against that, or if it doesn’t appear to be working, you can go to the app, tap the three dots in the top right corner and select settings. Under Chats you can choose the theme — either light, dark or to the system default.
Twitter allows you to access dark mode on both mobile and desktop. While it doesn’t automatically change with the operating system, it does allow you to choose for it to change at sunset, and you can decide whether you prefer the background to be completely black (‘lights out’) or a blue-grey (‘dim’). On mobile, tap your profile picture at the top left. Under Settings and Privacy, then Display and Sound you can switch dark mode on and off. On desktop, click the three dots on the left menu, then select Display. Here you can choose the lights out and dim options.