How do I turn on Dark Mode on my iPhone, Mac and Apple TV?
A warning right away: Dark Mode isn't available on iPhone - yet. There's a feature from the accessibility settings called Low Light Filter which may be the next best thing, and we'll explain how to turn that on in this article. but for the time being the full Dark Mode experience remains confined to Mac and Apple TV.
Talking of which... In macOS and tvOS, Apple has introduced an option called Dark Mode, which significantly changes the look and feel of the interface of your Mac and Apple TV. It makes for a far better nighttime viewing experience, and looks pretty cool too.
In this article we're going to take a look at how to enable Dark Mode in macOS Sierra and on Apple TV, as well as discussing the prospects of Dark Mode coming to iPhone, and how to produce similar effects in the meantime by turning on Low Light Filter and using various other filter options.
How to enable Dark Mode: Mac
Apple has built support for Dark Mode into the settings, so it's easy to turn the new mode on.
Here is how to enable Dark Mode:
- Open System Preferences.
- Click General.
- Place a tick in the Use Dark Menu Bar and Dock option.
- Close System Preferences.
macOS should now be running in Dark Mode. Remove the tick from Use Dark Menu Bar and Dock to return to regular mode.
How to enable Dark Mode: What macOS Sierra's Dark Mode looks like
macOS's Dark Mode changes the look of the Menu bar (at the top of the macOS interface) and the Dock. Here are some things to look out for in Dark Mode:
- The Dock. In the case of the Dock the pale translucent background becomes much darker. It remains translucent, however, and if you move windows behind the dock the lightness of them shows through.
- The Menu bar. The drop-down menus across macOS are dark and again, the lightness of any windows underneath shines through.
- App support. Currently support for Dark Mode in the Menu bar is limited to Apple’s own apps. Apps made by a third-party display a dark menu, but it does not have the see through effect.
- Dark Mode does not affect other translucent parts of the macOS interface. Safari, for example, features a translucent sidebar.
Dark Mode is great to test out, and we think it might be easier on the eyes than the regular mode.
You can also use the General Settings to change other parts of macOS from Blue to Graphite. This removes much of the colour from macOS and we think it sits well with Sierra (although it's a bit goth).
We like Dark Mode: it is a refreshing alternative to the highly translucent interface found in macOS Sierra. We think macOS Sierra's Dark Mode is worth testing out.
How to enable Dark Mode: Apple TV
Dark Mode has migrated from Mac to Apple TV as part of tvOS 10. Dark Mode for tvOS replaces the white interface, with a darker option. The difference is much more profound on tvOS than macOS, and we think Apple TV owners will love it.
Here's how to turn on Dark Mode in tvOS.
- Click Settings.
- Choose Appearance.
- Select Dark.
Easy, isn't it?
How to enable Dark Mode: Can you turn on Dark Mode on iPhone & iPad?
Sadly, Apple hasn't brought Dark Mode to iOS yet, although we think it'll arrive before too long - see the next section. All is not lost, however, and there are some filter options that can be used to produce similar effects.
iOS 10 introduces a range of Colour Filters in Accessibility. Colour Filters include GrayScale, which somewhat imitates Dark Mode (although it's a bit extreme to lose all colour in iOS). You can also add Colour Filters which are fun to experiment with. Here's how to access Colour Filters in iOS 10.
- Open Settings.
- Choose General > Accessibility > Display Accomodations > Colour Filters.
- Set Colour Filters to On.
The following filters are available:
- Red/Green Filter (Protanopia)
- Green/Red Filter (Deuteranopia)
- Blue/Yellow Filter (Tritanopia)
- Colour Tint
Tap any option and Intensity (and in the case of Colour Tint, Intensity and Hue) sliders. Adjust these to change the effect. You'll notice it more on the Home Screen than in Settings, so back in and out to see the effect change. Set Colour Filters to Off to return to normal viewing mode.
Low Light Filter
Here's another option that may improve your viewing experience at night. Open the Settings app and go to General > Accessibility > Zoom and tap the slider next to Zoom so it turns green.
Now go back to the Home screen and do a triple-tap with three fingers to bring up the zoom menu. Tap Choose Filter. In the next screen (pictured below), tap Low Light. This will darken the screen and make it more suitable for low-light viewing.
How to enable Dark Mode: When will Dark Mode come to iPhone & iPad?
It was widely expected that iOS 10 would feature a new Dark Mode viewing mode, with black backgrounds more suitable and restful for nighttime viewing. In the event, Apple announced exactly that, but for tvOS instead, and iOS Dark Mode remains missing in action.
Oddly enough, one of the principal planks supporting pre-launch Dark Mode speculation has shifted, too.
Several Apple fans noticed that, if you asked Siri in iOS 9.3.2 to turn on Dark Mode, it responded by saying "Sorry, but I'm not able to change that setting." That setting - suggesting that the setting existed or soon would, but Siri could not yet control it.
(Generally speaking, if you ask Siri to do something that it can't, it will either say that it doesn't understand, or run an internet search of your phrase. For some other modes we invented, ranging from "Privacy Mode" to "High-Speed Mode", Siri got confused and turned on something that it seemed to think was close enough. But we couldn't get him to say "I'm not able to change that setting" for any fictional setting other than "Dark Mode".)
In the developer preview of iOS 10, however, the instruction to "turn on Dark Mode" got a different response: "I can't find that scene." Siri now associates Dark Mode with the Home app, and assumes it must be a Scene - a preconfigured group of settings for various smart-home appliances, obviously including in this case the lights - that it hasn't been properly briefed about. The plot thickens.
Nevertheless, we expect iOS Dark Mode to appear before long. Andy Wiik, an app developer who previously released screenshots of Messages running in Dark Mode, has now posted images of the Settings app in Dark Mode that he obtained by using the iOS 10 Simulator.
Picture credit: Andy Wiik
Wiik postulates that Dark Mode will be controlled by a toggle button in Control Centre, and supports this theory with another screenshot from iOS 10 Simulator, this time showing a sixth, blank button to the right of the lock rotation switch.
The idea of Dark Mode is a sort of extension of Night Shift, but instead of simply warming up the colour output of the screen after sundown in order to reduce disruption to the human circadian cycle and loss of sleep, it proposes a radical, system-wide interface redesign for nighttime. Instead of basing the interface around the colour white, it would be based around black - a much easier colour scheme to see and use at night, as evidenced by the strategy already being used by many satnav interfaces, as well as some Apple apps.
"An iOS Dark Mode would be modelled after what Apple has already done with the Apple Watch app for iPhone and dark themes in iBooks," explains Federico Viticci, who featured Dark Mode in his iOS 10 concept video, made with the design Sam Beckett. Viticci cites benefits of such a mode including increased contrast, higher legibility and improved accessibility for those with limited vision.
Dark Mode concept designs
Here's how Viticci envisions Dark Mode. We think it's a terrific, and well-executed, concept.
Picture credit: Federico Viticci/Sam Beckett
iHelp BR has also shared concept images on how the dark theme could look like. Below is an image from iHelp BR showcasing how the settings menu could look like. With WWDC just around the corner, these latest rumours could make their way to all iOS 10-compatible devices soon.