In the past year or so, several apps (and even entire operating systems, like macOS Mojave) have gotten a feature typically called “dark mode,” which is essentially a new color scheme with light text on a dark background.
I’m a big fan of the dark mode. Not only does it save battery life — it requires more energy to light up a laptop or a phone screen with a slab of bright white than a dark grey or black — but it also makes everything look cool.
We’re still waiting for some major platforms to get a dark mode — Android is nearly there, for example — but you can already get it on a number of popular mobile apps, including YouTube, Facebook Messenger, Twitter and more.
Now, it’s time to turn them all dark.
The world’s most popular video sharing app gave iOS users a dark theme in early 2018 and followed up with an Android version of the same feature in July 2018. Since YouTube is primarily about watching videos, dark mode fits perfectly; I’ve enabled it on all my devices and never looked back. To enable it on iOS, go to Settings – Dark Theme. On Android, the option can be found under Settings – General – Dark theme.
Dark mode for Messenger came out just days ago, and it’s still in a sort of beta mode. To enable it, you first must send someone the crescent moon emoji, after which you’ll get a prompt to enable the Dark Mode itself. It works on both iOS and Android devices, provided you’ve updated the Messenger app to the latest version. Facebook warns that there still may be glitches, but I’ve yet to find one.
Twitter has been on board the dark mode train for ages, and I applaud them for that. To enable it in iOS, go to Settings and privacy – Display and sound and enable Night mode. Alternatively, you can click on your profile icon in the top left, then the crescent moon icon in the bottom left. The process for enabling this feature on Android is exactly the same.
This is a really new one, having rolled out just days ago, and it comes with a couple of caveats: It only works for Slack beta users and it only works on iOS. Still, it’s big news; for many of us, Slack is one of the most-used apps, and a dark mode option has been high on most-wanted-features list for a while. To enable it, you first must sign up for the beta version of Slack; the option is at the bottom of Settings. Note that it might take a while for Slack to accept you as a beta tester. Once you’re approved, you’ll get a new Dark Mode option under Settings which you can tap to give the app a soothing dark theme.
Dark mode for Chrome doesn’t really exist now (though it is currently undergoing testing). But Chrome is such an important app that I had to include it here — and there is a hack of sorts that’ll let you see some sites in dark mode (and only in Chrome for Android). First, you’ll have to enable Simplified mode: Tap the three dots in the upper right corner of the app, tap Settings – Accessibility and switch on the Simplified view for web pages feature.
Now, whenever you’re browsing a site that offers Simplified view, you’ll be prompted to turn it on (this is pretty great for reading long articles, even if you don’t care about dark mode). Then, you’ll be able to tap the three dots in the upper right corner and change the site’s appearance to Light, Dark or Sepia.
Yes, this is convoluted, and yes, it doesn’t work on a bunch of sites (The New York Times is one example of a site where it does work quite well), but if you’re desperate for dark mode in Chrome, this may be better than nothing.
You probably don’t think of Google’s Gboard keyboard as an app, but for many Android users, it’s the most-used app, and one that shows up on the screen all the time. Luckily, it’s easy to make it dark. Gboard’s settings are typically found in your phone’s “Language and input” setting; from there, tap on Gboard and then Theme (alternatively, you can just find the Gboard app and tap on that. Here, you don’t only get one dark mode; you get a multitude of themes with a variety of color schemes. Personally, I use the darkest one available, cause that’s just how I roll.
If you’re a Google News user, you’re probably spending quite a bit of time in the app, and we’ve got good news: You can darkify it, and it looks pretty sweet. On Android, open the app, tap on your profile pic in the top right, tap Settings, and tap on Dark theme. Here, you can change whether you want the app to be dark all the time, never, or only when battery saver is on. You can also set dark mode to automatically switch on at night and when battery saver is on.
On iOS, the process is exactly the same, only you don’t get the automatic switch option; you can only set the dark mode to be on always, at night or never.
Maps will automatically switch your colour scheme from day to night, depending on time of day, on both iOS and Android. But you’re cooler than that; you want to have night mode on all the time. Fortunately, you can. On iOS, open the app, tap the hamburger menu on the top left, tap the Settings icon on the top right, tap Navigation and change the Colour scheme from Automatic to Night (you can also permanently set it to Day, but why would you ever want that). On Android, the process is the same, with one difference; Settings are located all the way down after you tap on the hamburger menu.
There’s a pretty big caveat to this: It only changes the map to Night mode during navigation, not in regular view. Again, it’s better than nothing.
By far my favorite writing app, Ulysses provides a clutter-free interface to get your creative juices flowing without any interferences. It looks beautiful on both desktop and mobile, and there’s something serene about writing in dark mode, which consists of cleverly chosen layers of dark grey. On iOS, you’ll find the Dark Mode option under Settings – View Options. Ulysses does have one major drawback, though: It’s available only on Apple’s platforms, so an Android the Ulysses app simply doesn’t exist.
One of the best privacy-focused messaging apps around, Signal, has a dark mode option that’s easy to miss — it’s the crescent moon icon in the upper right corner of the app’s Settings. Tap that, and you’re all set.
If you’re an iPhone user running iOS 11 or 12, there’s a way to make everything dark, including apps that don’t natively support a dark mode, like Facebook. To enable it, go to General – Accessibility – Display Accomodations and turn Invert Colours to On. This isn’t perfect: Some apps will look weird, as simply inverting the colors (which this option does) is not the same as having a soothing, layers-of-grey color theme. But if you really wanna go dark, this is the way.
You can do a similar trick on Android Pie as well, but it’s not as simple, as it differs from phone to phone. In stock Android, though, the process is as follows: Go to Settings – Display – Advanced – Device Theme and turn on the Dark setting. This isn’t perfect, as some elements of the UI will stay light; hopefully, Google will fine-tune this option a bit more in the future.