How to make Dark mode on the Mac

by | Feb 28, 2023

In macOS, you will find a dark mode (Dark Mode), which ensures that everything has a dark appearance. The menus, apps and other items will then appear dark. This dark mode has been expanded since macOS Mojave and from macOS Big Sur you can make the dark shades even darker. Here you can read how it works.

How to make mac dark mode?

Apple offers you the option to use dark colours in macOS. This macOS dark mode darkens the menu bar, default apps, and more, making it easier to read in the evenings. What does this dark mode on Mac look like and which macOS version do you need? You can read that in this tip!

  • Explanation
  • Switch
  • Which Mac?
  • Even darker shades
  • Adjust colours
  • Alternatives

What is Mac Dark Mode?

Thanks to the dark mode in macOS, you can adjust the colours of the operating system. Light colours are thus made dark so that using your Mac in the evenings is easier on your eyes. If you are a fan of dark mode, you can of course also just turn it on all day. Depending on the macOS version you are using, there are two types of dark modes.

Starting with macOS Mojave, dark mode applies to the entire operating system. This means that all screens on your Mac will now be dark. So it also applies to the menu bar and dock, but also to all standard apps that are on your Mac. Think System Preferences, Safari, Calendar, and the Messages app. Other developers can also adjust their apps so that they are automatically displayed in the dark as soon as you enable this Dark Mode.

In macOS High Sierra and earlier, dark mode is more limited. With these versions, only the menu bar and Dock are shown in dark colours. Standard apps like Safari, Messages and the Mac App Store remain lightweight. Third-party developers must therefore also build a dark mode into their apps themselves.

You can find which macOS version you have installed via >> About this Mac.

How do I enable macOS dark mode?

To enable macOS dark mode:

macOS Ventura and newer

  1. Go to System Settings on the Mac.
  2. Click Appearance > Dark.
  3. You could also choose Automatic if you want to automatically switch between light and dark.

macOS Mojave t/m Monterey

  1. Go to System Preferences on the Mac.
  2. Go to General.
  3. Under Display you will find the option Dark. Click here for the dark colours.

All apps that support the dark view will now be converted automatically. It is not possible to set this for individual apps.

macOS High Sierra and earlier

  1. Go to System Preferences on the Mac.
  2. Click on the General section.
  3. At the top are the Use dark menu bar and dark Dock box. Check this one.

The menu bars and Dock will now no longer be light grey and transparent, but dark. Even with menus that open, the background is now a lot darker, making texts easier to read. Black texts become white. If you still find this difficult to read, try using the Use anti-aliasing for LCD option when available. You’ll find this option at the very bottom of System Preferences > General. The letters will then appear slightly thinner, also in the screen texts of apps. Black text on a white background will also appear slightly less bold.

Which Macs Have a Dark Mode?

To use macOS Mojave’s extended dark mode, you’ll need a Mac that supports Metal 2. Metal is the graphical framework that makes games look nicer, for example. Your graphics processor must support the latest version of Metal 2 for dark mode.

Here’s how to check for Metal 2 support:

  • Go to >> About This Mac.
  • On the first Overview tab, click System Overview.
  • Under the heading Hardware, go to Video/Displays.
  • Is Metal 2 supported? You can see this by the text ‘Supported, feature set macOS GPUFamily1 v3’ or newer.
  • If there is no reference to Metal, you cannot use dark mode. You could choose to have your GPU replaced with a newer one.

Even darker shades? Which can!

Since macOS Big Sur it becomes possible to make the dark mode even darker. This has to do with Desktop Tinting, which causes the background image to shine through windows. If you switch this off, you get an even black shade, without the slightly translucent desktop shades.

This is how you enable it:

  • Go to >> System Preferences.
  • Click General.
  • Uncheck Allow background image to be displayed in windows.
  • You now get a darker version of the dark mode.

Here is Desktop Tinting:

Some people find that Desktop Tinting gives a nice effect because windows blend more harmoniously into their environment on the desktop. Others prefer to have a clear dividing line between the window and the background. You can read more about it on this page.

How do I adjust colours in macOS?

If you want macOS to look less colourful, you can also change the appearance of blue buttons, menus and windows to anthracite grey in System Settings > Display or in System Preferences > General. We do not think that is an improvement: the menus become very colourless and the blue colour is often a handy hint that there is a button or option. The conversion also ensures that the ‘traffic light’ at the top left of every dialogue is now grey. Less colourful, but also less clear.

If you want the opposite (i.e. a little more colour), you can replace the standard light blue marking colour with a candy cane colour, for example, pink or green, under the Marking colour. This applies, for example, to text on a website that you have selected to copy.

Alternatives: Automatically enable dark menus with f.lux

You can go one step further: with the app f.lux for Mac, you can make sure that the dark screen mode is activated automatically at sunset. F.lux automatically adjusts the colours of the Mac screen depending on the lighting conditions. After installation, you indicate that Dark Mode should be switched on automatically as soon as the sun goes down.

If you want less blue light from your Mac screen, Apple has devised Night Shift for that. With Night Shift on your Mac, the screen automatically turns a bit more yellow in the evening, which experts say is better for your eyes and your night’s sleep.

S.Choudhary is the Tech Editor at Crazy about tech, gadgets and, specifically, smart homes. The first ‘automation’ started in the home more than 7 years ago, and since then, hundreds of products and brands have been researched and tested.


Tech Editor, Advice Insight



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