Earlier days macOS used to display all the apps and interfaces with white background. Though it looks elegant, sometimes it will be annoying to see everything in white. This default display mode in Mac can also affect your eyes when you need to look at the computer for longer time in dark environment. To offer additional options for customizing the appearance, Apple introduced dark mode in macOS Mojave version. Now, you can easily switch between light or dark modes to change the appearance of your apps and work conveniently. In this article, we will explain how to use dark mode in Mac and the impact of appearance on some of the default apps.
Enable Dark Mode in Mac
There are two ways to enable dark mode in macOS. One is from Control Center and other is from System Preferences section. Though there are no other customization options available, you can independently toggle dark mode for some of the default and third-party apps like Microsoft Word. Since the macOS interface is different from version 13 (Ventura), we will explain the process using both old and new macOS interfaces.
1. Enable Dark Mode in Mac (Ventura or Later)
Unlike old versions, new macOS versions from Ventura come with a default Settings app where you can customize system settings.
- Click the Apple logo and select “System Settings…” menu.
- Go to “Appearance” section from the left sidebar.
- Select the mode against “Appearance” in the right pane. You can choose Light, Dark or Auto mode and setup accent color.
2. Setup Dark Mode from System Preferences (macOS Monterey or Earlier)
If you are using macOS Monterey (version 12) or earlier, follow the below instructions to setup dark mode from System Preferences section.
- Click on the Apple logo menu on top left corner and go to “System Preferences…” menu.
- You will see a list of icons and click on the “General” option.
- Here you can change the appearance to light or dark mode similar to Windows computer.
Once you select the mode, it will apply instantly on you Mac. Below is how the dark mode will look like on your Mac.
You can also select the accent/highlight colors for changing icons and highlighting colors (for example, Safari address bar) shown in the apps. The “Auto” option helps you to dynamically apply the dark or light mode based on the lighting throughout the day. Generally, it will apply the dark mode during night time and apply light mode during day time. You do not have separate option to schedule dark mode in macOS.
3. Use Control Center to Toggle Dark Mode in Mac
If you are familiar with using Control Center in your iPhone, you can also make use of the Control Center in Mac for similar purposes. This option is available in all macOS versions.
- Click on the Control Center icon showing on the top menu bar. It will show different items depending on your settings / preferences and click on the “Display” option.
- The “Display” section will show few options like “Dark Mode”, “Night Shift” and “True Tone” depending on you Mac model. By default, “Dark Mode” option will show “Off Until Later” indicating it is turned off.
- Simply click on the “Dark Mode” icon to turn it on. Now, you will see the dark mode icon shows “On Until Tomorrow”.
It means enabling dark mode from Control Center will be applied only for the current day. When the calendar moves to next day, the mode will be reset and follow the settings as per your System Preferences / Settings section.
Note: Instead of Control Center, you can also directly use the “Display” icon from top menu bar to enable or disable Dark Mode. For adding “Display” icon on latest macOS versions, go to “Apple menu > System Settings… > Control Center > Display” and select “Always show in Menu Bar” option. On Monterey or earlier versions, go to “Apple menu > System Preferences… > Dock & Menu Bar > Display” and check “Show in Menu Bar” with “always” option selected in dropdown.
Dark Mode Impact on Default Apps
Dark mode will invert the light colors and apply dark colors (black) to title bar, status bar and other parts of Mac apps. It does not affect background and the default apps generally show white background. However, you can independently toggle dark mode and white background options in some of the apps. Here is the behavior of popular Mac apps when you enable dark mode.
- Safari – there are no separate options in Safari to change the white background for websites. If the site supports toggling dark mode, you can change the colors accordingly.
- TextEdit – this app will add a new “Use Dark Background for Windows” item under “View” menu when you enable dark mode. You can use this option to toggle the background color of the app when using system dark mode.
- Notes, Mail and Maps – these apps will show additional option in app preferences/settings section to toggle the background color. For example, Notes app will show an option “Use dark backgrounds for note content”. You can disable this checkbox to continue using white background in Notes app while using system dark mode.
Similar to default macOS apps, third-party apps either use system settings or have their own control to enable or disable dark mode. For example, the popular Google Chrome browser app in Mac will use the system setting. However, Microsoft Office apps have their own setting for dark mode. For example, you can go to app preferences in Word for Mac and disable dark mode using “Turn off Dark Mode” option under “General” section. Similarly, you can change the page’s color to white or black when using system dark mode.
Night Mode Vs Dark Mode in Mac
As you can see in the Control Center, Mac also offers night mode in addition to dark mode. Night mode helps to apply warm colors and reduce the stress on your eyes. This is especially useful when you are looking at the screen during night time with lights switched off in the surroundings. However, dark mode inverts the light colors to dark black color which is useful when you want to avoid light or white backgrounds regardless of whether you are working on day or night time. Try playing around with both night and dark modes and use the option that makes you convenient.