How to Make Mac Dark Mode (And Why You Should)

May 30, 2023 • Devin Partida


You can learn how to make Mac dark mode on your Macbook or iMac in a matter of minutes. Switching MacOS to dark mode relieves blue light strain on your eyes and makes the Mac UI more visually appealing to some. Dark mode is a built-in feature on all Apple devices that’s easy to switch on in a few simple steps. 

How to Turn On Dark Mode in macOS

Whether you are on a Macbook or an iMac, you can make Mac dark mode by going to your device’s Apple menu. Look for the Apple icon usually found in the top left corner of your screen. Click on it and select System Settings then Appearance. 

Here you’ll find an option to change your Mac’s light or dark mode settings. You can permanently set your device to either light or dark mode or you can use auto mode, which will change from light to dark depending on your pre-set Night Shift schedule. The auto feature allows your Mac to automatically adjust display settings for you to minimize the impact of blue light on your eyes and sleep schedule. 

If you do want to use auto dark/light mode, setting up Night Shift just takes a few clicks. In your Apple menu go to System Settings then Display and select Night Shift. You have a few options for setting up your schedule here. You can go with a custom schedule where you set your own static times for Night Shift to turn on and off. For example, you could set it to turn on at 8:00 PM and turn off at 9:00 AM. 

Alternatively, you can set Night Schedule on a changing schedule that follows local sunrise and sunset. This schedule will automatically adjust as local daylight hours change throughout the year. 

If you don’t see an option for Night Shift on your Mac device, check the model year. Most Macs are capable of Night Shift, but pre-2015 devices may not include the feature. 

Mac Dark Mode Features (and Limits)

 What can you do after you learn how to make Mac dark mode? Using dark mode features on your Mac device can change the look and feel of your entire user experience. Apple designed it to work well with built-in apps and many 3rd party apps have dark mode detection, as well. 

For example, the Mail, Maps, Notes, Safari, TextEdit and iMovie apps all have built-in dark mode compatibility. Additionally, more and more popular non-Apple apps are also getting dark mode options today. These include Facebook Messenger, Evernote, Slack, Spotify, Tweetbot, Microsoft Office and the Adobe Creative Suite. 

Setting your Mac device to dark mode will tell compatible apps and websites to use a dark mode if it is available. However, dark mode can’t automatically force a website or app to adopt the same theme. If an app or site simply doesn’t have a dark mode option available, your Mac can’t create one for it. Luckily, there are plenty of tools like custom themes or extensions that allow you to manually create a dark mode in cases like this. 

Benefits of Using Dark Mode

Why should you learn how to make Mac dark mode? Using dark mode on your laptop, phone, tablet and other devices has both technical and medical benefits. Many people use dark mode simply because they prefer the look of darker windows and pages. Dark mode can also improve your device’s battery life and reduce eye strain. 

Blue light is the bright blue-toned light produced by electronic screens like those on your laptop, phone or tablet. Exposure to blue light throughout the day can impact your body’s circadian rhythm, or internal clock. For instance, staring at a bright laptop screen for an hour right before bed may make it more difficult to fall asleep since your body mistakes the bright light from your screen for daylight. 

Studies show that blue light exposure decreases sleep time and quality, much like excessive caffeine. Learning how to make Mac dark mode can help you avoid these side effects by reducing your blue light exposure after the sun goes down. 

A dull gray or black screen background has less glare and less brightness, making it easier on your eyes. This isn’t just helpful at night, either. Dark mode display options can reduce eye strain throughout the day if you have to look at screens for extended periods, such as at work. At night, it is also a good idea to lower your screen brightness and use an orange-hued screen filter, such as the one provided by Apple’s Night Shift option. 

Dark Mode for Other Apple Devices

If you like the look and feel of dark mode on your Mac device, you can also activate it on your iPhone, iPad and even Apple Watch. Setting up this feature on your other Apple devices is much like the process of learning how to make Mac dark mode. 

iPhone and iPad

There are a few ways to turn on dark mode on your iPhone or iPad. You can open the Control Center by either swiping up from the bottom of your screen (iPhone SE, 8 and earlier) or from the top right corner of your screen (iPhone X and later, all iPads). In the Control Center, press and hold the brightness bar. This will bring up a larger brightness bar along with a few display options. One is Dark Mode. Simply tap it to turn dark mode on or off until sunset or sunrise. 

For more precise dark mode options, go to your device’s Settings app. Select Display & Brightness. In this menu, you can permanently set your device to light or dark mode or set up a schedule for switching between the two. You can set up Night Shift here, as well. 

Apple Watch

If you have a premium Apple Watch like the 2022 Apple Watch Ultra, you can use built-in dark mode options on your watch. On the Ultra, you simply select the Wayfinder watch face and use your watch’s digital crown to switch to dark mode. Turn the digital crown upwards to turn on dark mode and turn it backwards to turn dark mode off. 

If you don’t have the Apple Watch Ultra, you can use a bit of automation to create your own dark mode on your watch. Choose a “light mode” and “dark mode” watch face and use your Apple Watch’s settings to schedule the watch faces to change based on the time of day. When night falls, your watch will automatically switch to your “dark mode” watch face. 

How to Make Mac Dark Mode: An Easy Guide

Learning to make Mac dark mode is straightforward and takes a few quick clicks in your device’s settings. Activating dark mode on your Macbook or iMac is a great way to reduce eye strain, improve battery life and improve the aesthetics of your device. If you like using dark mode, you can also activate it on your iPhone, iPad and even your Apple Watch.