You’ve probably seen it appear on websites, in the menus of your phone, or even in some applications that you use every day… Dark mode has become an integral part of our digital lives. But concretely, what is the purpose of this new option that abounds on the Web? Why do all the sites suddenly start offering it? And how is it possible to enjoy it?
Today, we tell you all about this discreet feature that can improve your browsing experience on a smartphone, tablet, or computer.
What is dark mode?
Not surprisingly, dark mode (or “dark mode,” as the Anglo-Saxons call it) has its Wikipedia page that describes the phenomenon quite well. “The dark mode […] is a choice of color (or theme) applied to icons, text, and human-machine interfaces displayed against a dark background of a website or operating system.” To put it more simply, it’s switching the user interfaces (usually thought of on a white background) of a website or application to a darker, or downright black, color palette.
Be careful not to confuse it with the “night mode” offered by some PCs and some phones. This option yellows the screen to reduce the user’s exposure to blue light. Dark mode is also not a simple “negative” passage of a website in light mode, since it often requires reworking the logos, buttons, and menu to offer the most comfortable and ergonomic navigation possible. A successful dark mode, therefore, requires that each development team behind each website or application rethink, more or less thoroughly, the interface of its service. That’s why you don’t necessarily see the option everywhere on the web. Behind this slight aesthetic change lie ergonomics and readability issues.
What’s the dark mode for?
The easy answer to this question is “to offer more choices.” Sometimes, Internet users prefer darker interfaces for reasons of reading comfort. The bright white of Google’s homepage, for example, is not necessarily suitable for smartphone surfing sessions from the bottom of your bed in the dark. But dark mode also has a more technical advantage: it allows, in some cases, to save energy and therefore the battery of your phone or tablet.
OLED screens, which have now become widely available on our phones, TVs, and game consoles, have the advantage of consuming nothing when the screen is black. Unlike IPS displays that need constant backlighting of the panel, the OLED can turn off some of its pixels individually. As a result, displaying a black screen consumes almost nothing since no backlight mechanism is necessary.
If your smartphone (or tablet, or PC) has an OLED screen, activating dark mode can turn off certain parts of the screen and therefore save battery. This only applies to “real” dark modes with a black background. Many apps or websites opt for a gradient of blue as a dark mode. The latter, therefore, offer no advantage in terms of energy consumed (since each pixel is lit) but offer those who want it better reading comfort.
True dark modes can also be suitable for some accessibility issues thanks to the higher contrast. Less white background also means fewer blue lights.
How to enable dark mode on Android and iOS?
These technical explanations are all well and good, but in reality, how can you enjoy dark mode on your phone or tablet? The two majority mobile OSes, Android and iOS, each offer an option to switch all or part of their interfaces to dark mode.
If you’re using Google’s OS and want to enable dark mode, it’s simple:
- Go to your Settings app,
- Find the View or View and Brightness menu,
- You should find an option that allows you to switch to dark mode.
It may even be that your phone offers advanced options for dark mode such as activating from a certain time or adjusting contrast in the interface.
On Apple’s mobile system, activating dark mode is done in a few clicks:
- Go to the Settings application,
- Choose Brightness & Display,
- Switch from light to dark mode with the option at the top of the page.
The “Automatic” option below automatically switches from light to dark mode depending on the time of day or a custom schedule.
How do I enable dark mode on Windows and macOS?
Dark mode is also available on computers. Here’s how to turn it on:
On Windows 10/11
- Open the Settings app,
- Choose the Customization submenu,
- Go to the Colors tab,
- In Choose your color (or Windows mode/app mode on Windows 11) choose Dark.
- Open the Apple menu at the top left,
- Choose System Preferences,
- Click General,
- In the Appearance Mode section, choose Dark.
The automatic option allows you to change the colors of the interface according to the time of day.
What about apps and websites?
Switching the interface of your OS to dark mode is good; switching your entire ecosystem to dark mode is even better! Many websites and applications today have a dark mode that everyone can use.
Technically, operating system-level controls (whether on mobile or desktop) instruct your applications to also adopt dark mode (if they have one). The same goes for some websites. Unfortunately, not all software and sites automatically detect your settings. In this case, you will have to browse the settings of each to check the presence of a dark mode and activate it if necessary. You can also switch some applications to dark mode while keeping your OS in light mode.
Unfortunately, there is no universal way to activate dark mode. On Chrome, you have to go to Settings and then Appearance or Themes. On Twitter, click on the bulb in the side menu or on More and display on the web. On TikTok, the option is located in the Profile tab and then in the Settings and Privacy menu nestled in the sidebar. On websites, it is very variable.
In short, as you will have understood, no application or website uses the same interfaces to offer access to dark mode. But once the option is adopted, your favorite apps and sites should remember it.
Enjoy long surf sessions in the middle of the night without perforating your retina.