You’ve seen it in screenshots: a black menu bar, and a black dock. How did they do that?

If this seems like a magic trick, there’s a reason for that: until Yosemite a few years ago, setting up a black menu bar meant employing hard-to-install third party hacks. These days, it’s simple.

Enable Dark Mode in macOS

First, open System Preferences, then click “General.”

Next, check the box labelled “Use dark menu bar and Dock.”

No, seriously: that’s it. You now have a dark menu bar, and your menu bar icons should turn white so that you can still see them.

The dock will also take on a darker hue.

That’s just about all this tweak changes: your programs will look the same, and so will their interface elements. The only other thing we could find that’s black now is the on-screen volume and brightness indicators.

It’s unfortunate that more things aren’t darkened by this setting, especially because third party theming options basically broke when System Identity Protection came around. Still, if you’re editing videos in a dark room, it’s nice that you can make the menu bar black to match the already dark user interface of your editing software.

Disable Transparency for Even More Darkness

RELATED: The Best Command Line Tools You Can Get on Your Mac With Homebrew

You’ll notice in both screenshots that the wallpaper color bleeds into the menu bar. If you want prefer that completely black look, you’ll need to disable transparency in the Accessibility settings.

This will reduce transparency throughout the system, giving you the jet menu bar your dark heart deserves.

Automatically Switching to Dark Mode

If you only want a dark menu bar sometimes, you’ve got a few options. First of all there’s Flux, which changes your color temperature at night. The Mac version offers a simple option for enabling Dark Mode every day at sunset.

RELATED: Automator 101: How to Automate Repetitive Tasks on Your Mac

Check this option and your menu bar and dock will change automatically. If you’d rather not install Flux just for this, there’s command line utility named darkmode that we’ve featured before, which changes your menu bar and dock from one theme to another whenever it’s run. You could create an Automator Calendar Alarm to set up your own script for changing the menu bar, if you want.

Profile Photo for Justin Pot Justin Pot
Justin Pot has been writing about technology for over a decade, with work appearing in Digital Trends, The Next Web, Lifehacker, MakeUseOf, and the Zapier Blog. He also runs the Hillsboro Signal, a volunteer-driven local news outlet he founded.
Read Full Bio »