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What is Dark Mode and How to Turn it On or Off

What is Dark Mode and How to Turn it On or Off

Linsey Knerl
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Reading time: 7 minutes
Americans spend more time in front of screens than ever before. Children ages 8-18 spend an estimated 7.5 hours of screen time just for entertainment each day, not including school or educational purposes. With no one to help them curb their device use, adults could easily spend more time looking at screens. However, several tools can help everyone develop healthier screen time habits.
One of the tools is dark mode, a screen setting you can customize depending on the device or app. Learn what makes dark mode special and how to change to dark mode on your favorite screen applications.

What is dark mode?

Dark mode is a special screen setting designed to make the best use of dim light situations, particularly at night. Dark mode displays gray-ish or light text on a dark background instead of dark text and graphics against a white background, as is typical for most apps.
Dark mode’s aim is to reduce the glaring white light that may be distracting in the evenings. It may even be easier on your eyes than a traditional screen setting.
Dark mode sometimes has a different name depending on your phone or app, like “dark theme” or “night mode.”

How to turn on/off dark mode

If you like the idea of using night settings with your favorite apps, there are plenty of opportunities to use dark mode. Most phones have a dark mode setting, and so do most apps. Whether you turn it on or off at the device level is up to you.
Some apps, such as Twitter, may turn on their dark theme by default at a certain time. You can override most of these automatic settings, which allows you to turn on dark mode when you want. This is ideal for those who don’t use their devices in low-light settings.
Here’s how you can enable dark themes for your most common devices and apps.

Windows 10

The easiest way to enjoy dark themes in all apps and when browsing on your Windows 10 PC is to set it up through your OS settings.
  1. From the Start menu, select Settings and Personalization.
  2. Select the Background option from the left-hand side of the screen. You can upload your own dark photo or graphic, or choose from one provided by Windows.
  3. Select the Colors option from the left-hand side. You can select a color that’s easier on the eyes, such as gray, tan, or a muted yellow or blue (your choice).
  4. Test your choice of color in the Dark Theme by clicking on Dark from the Choose your default app mode option. If you don’t like the colors you chose, try again with something else!
The process on Windows 11 varies slightly, but to easily access the dark theme:
  1. Type “dark theme” into the search field and open Turn on Dark Mode Systemwide.
  2. You’ll now see the Colors settings of the Personalization menu, where Dark is selected from Choose your default windows mode.
  3. Change Choose your default app mode to Dark for the full dark theme effect across Windows.

Mac OS

If you’re a Mac or Macbook user, it’s easy to turn on Dark Mode from the Apple menu.
  1. Navigate to System Preferences.
  2. Click on General.
  3. Choose the appearance option that works best for you. They include light, dark, and auto, which changes based on time of day.
You may notice that dark mode works differently depending on the program or app. Within Mail, Maps, Notes, Safari, and TextEdit, you can find additional settings to toggle between darker themes and standard view. This gives you more control over how you use dark mode.

Apple devices

You can easily access the dark mode settings on your iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touch devices. Here’s how:
  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Display & Brightness.
  3. Turn Dark Mode on or off.
You can access this same feature through the Control Center, and then click on the Dark Mode icon. If you want to use Dark Mode on your Apple devices at a certain time, choose Automatic and then Options to create a schedule that works for you.

Android devices

When you update your Android device to the latest OS version, you can choose between dark theme, color inversion, or both. What’s the difference? Color inversion makes everything, including videos, appear as the opposite tone (black appears white, and vice versa).
Dark theme works on Android's operating system and supported apps, but it won’t change how videos appear. To set up Android dark mode:
  1. Go to Settings, then Accessibility, and then the Display screen.
  2. Click on for the Dark theme to apply it or Use color inversion to apply it. You can use both at once, but only in version 10 or later of Android.

Microsoft Edge

It’s a snap to switch to dark mode in Microsoft Edge.
  1. Click the three dots in the upper right-hand corner of the browser.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Choose Appearance.
  4. Under the Customize browser options, select Theme and Dark from the drop-down list.

Google Chrome

Google’s instructions for using Dark Mode (for computer) or Dark Theme (for mobile devices) is to enable the dark mode settings on your device’s operating system. Chrome doesn’t include a specific set of instructions.
However, you can modify your browser’s look by picking from the dark themes in the Chrome store. Install whichever theme you like, and you can modify Chrome’s appearance as you see fit.

Kindle

Depending on the Kindle device you own, you'll have different options for nighttime reading. For newer Amazon Fire devices, you can access the Settings and select Blue Shade to get less blue light and easier nighttime reading. It's not a true "dark mode," but it washes the entire screen in a yellow-ish glow.
Other devices may not have Blue Shade but a dark mode option instead. You can access it the same way:
  1. Swipe down from the top of the screen to access the Settings toolbar.
  2. Turn “dark mode” on or off.

Facebook

What is dark mode on Facebook? This setting is easy on the eyes, especially if you like to scroll through your newsfeed at night.
For desktop users:
  1. Access your settings by clicking the arrow in the upper-right hand corner on Facebook.
  2. Click the moon icon for Display and Accessibility, then turn Night Mode on or off. You can also set it to automatically switch on at certain times of the evening, based on your chosen schedule.
Facebook app users will find it only takes a few clicks to reduce digital eye strain.
  1. Select the profile pick in the upper right corner.
  2. Choose Settings & Privacy.
  3. Select the Dark Mode option to toggle it on or off.

Twitter

With Twitter's settings, you can shift between the standard interface, Dim, or Lights Out mode. Just follow these steps in your browser:
  1. Click the three dots at the bottom of the left-hand side of the Twitter page.
  2. Click Settings.
  3. Select Accessibility, Display, and Languages.
  4. Choose Display, and pick the background of your choosing.
If you use the Twitter app, you can access the two dark modes from your settings in the same way. You can also set dark mode to come on automatically at sunset, which is determined by the sundown time in your time zone. This also means you don’t have to manually switch it on and off.

Does dark mode really help?

Considering how easy it is to turn on dark mode from almost any device, you may be wondering why everyone doesn't do it. It comes down to personal preference. Some users like dark backgrounds but still need the light settings to see their screens in low-light situations.
The mode you choose depends on how your eyes feel when you look at your screen. If you have dry eyes or worry about eye health, it can’t hurt to use the dark mode tools.

Is dark mode better for your eye health?

Dimming your phone’s screen or using dark mode doesn’t do anything for the blue light effect, which is a different issue altogether. Blue light is also rumored to contribute to poor sleep, though that rumor may be debunked. If you’re concerned about blue light, consider using a special screen covering or blue-light glasses to help block out this part of the light spectrum.

Does dark mode improve battery life?

Unfortunately, dark mode isn’t an effective way to save battery life. A Purdue University study shows it has little effect and isn't worth doing just to keep your phone working longer.

Summary

Dark mode is a feature you can use if you prefer the color scheme or because it feels more comfortable for your eyes. It’s also easy to toggle on or off, no matter your device, app, or browser. However, it’s not a substitute for reducing screen time, especially before bed.
About the Author: Linsey Knerl is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Linsey is a Midwest-based author, public speaker, and member of the ASJA. She has a passion for helping consumers and small business owners do more with their resources via the latest tech solutions.

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