Late-night screen use and insomnia go together like blue light and disrupted circadian rhythms. (This type of light is particularly bad for convincing our brains it's still daytime.) It can also cause eyestrain, tiredness and stress. For these reasons many software companies have worked on ways to adjust computer, tablet and smartphone interfaces for evening or nighttime use.

Some devices have a special 'Dark Mode' which is designed to kick in during the evening hours. Apple has created a Dark Mode for its Apple TV, which changes much of the interface furniture from white (or light) to black (or dark); this is more restful to use in the evening. The Mac doesn't officially get Dark Mode, but it gets something similar, and in this article we show you how to switch it on and what it does.

For related advice, take a look at How to use Dark Mode on your iPhone and How to use Dark Mode on Apple TV.

How to turn on Dark Mode on Mac

To turn on Dark Mode on a Mac, go to System Preferences > General and put a tick next to 'Use dark menu bar and Dock'. Remove the tick from Use Dark Menu Bar and Dock to return to standard mode.

How to enable Dark Mode: Turn on Dark Mode in macOS Sierra

If there's a way to activate this mode on Siri, we haven't found it. Remember that it isn't officially Dark Mode - even if it offers similar features on a narrower scale - so telling Siri to "turn on Dark Mode" gets a response of "Sorry, David, I can't do that", or similar. Likewise, we didn't get anywhere by reading out the name of the menu option as shown above.

Interface changes

Once 'dark menu bar' mode is switched on, you'll see that the interface is subtly, but not drastically, different. As the option name suggests, it changes the look of only the menu bar (at the top of the macOS interface) and the dock (at the bottom).

How to enable Dark Mode: Dark Mode in macOS

Here are some things to look out for in this mode:

  • The Dock: the pale translucent background becomes much darker. It remains translucent, however, and if you move windows behind the dock the lightness 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 full support for 'dark menu bar' mode 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.

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 looks good (although it's a bit goth).

We like Dark Mode: it's a refreshing alternative to the partially translucent interface found in macOS High Sierra and other standard macOS interfaces.