Google Chrome 74 offers a built-in dark mode on Windows. Rather than having its own dark mode toggle, Chrome simply follows Windows 10’s overall app mode. That’s how it normally works—but there’s a way to forcibly enable it, too.

How to Enable Chrome’s Dark Mode

You can simply enable Google Chrome’s built-in dark mode by heading to Settings > Personalization > Colors and choosing “Dark” under “Choose your default app mode.” Windows 10 will turn dark and Chrome, along with some other applications, will follow this overall setting.

On a Mac, you can enable macOS’s dark mode to achieve the same thing.

For now, this only works for some people. As of Chrome 74’s release on April 23, 2019, Google is testing this feature with “a small number of Chrome M74 users” and “it will become more widely available in the near future” according to a Chrome community manager. To enable it now, you can launch Chrome with the --force-dark-mode option.

Update: Google says this should now work for everyone. But you can still force-enable dark mode if you’d rather use Windows in light mode and Chrome in dark mode.

How to Force-Enable Dark Mode

Chrome has a built-in option that will forcibly enable dark mode. This works right now, even when the normal system-wide dark mode option doesn’t work. It will also force Chrome into dark mode even if Windows 10’s default app mode is set to “light.”

To activate this option, find the shortcut you normally use to launch Chrome. For example, it might be on your taskbar or desktop. We’ll use the taskbar shortcut.

Right-click the shortcut and select “Properties.” For a Chrome taskbar shortcut, right-click the taskbar icon, right-click “Google Chrome,” and select “Properties.”

Opening Chrome's taskbar shortcut properties window on Windows 10

Add a space followed by --force-dark-mode to the end of the Target box. For example, on our system, the Target box looks like this:

"C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe" --force-dark-mode

It may be different on your system if Chrome is installed to a different location.

Click “OK” to save your changes.

Force-enabling Google Chrome's dark mode with --force-dark-mode

Click “OK” and use the shortcut to launch Chrome. If you already have Chrome open, you’ll need to close Chrome before relaunching it. To do so, click menu > Exit. Wait a moment for Chrome to completely close and launch Chrome with the shortcut you modified.

You’ll see the new dark mode theme, which unfortunately does look pretty similar to Incognito Mode.

Chrome's built-in dark mode on Windows 10 showing the new tab page

How to Make Chrome’s Title Bar Colorful (or Not)

If you don’t want Chrome’s title bar colorful—or do want it colorful—head to the Settings > Personalization > Colors interface and toggle the “Title bars and window borders” option under “Show accent color on the following surfaces.”

Choosing Chrome title bar color on Windows

When this option is activated, Chrome’s title bar will use the accent color you have set on the Colors pane here.

Choosing an accent color on Windows 10

RELATED: How to Get Colored Window Title Bars on Windows 10 (Instead of White)

How to Enable Dark Mode WIth a Theme

If you don’t want to mess with any of this—or if you use an older version of Windows like Windows 7—you can always just install a dark mode theme for Chrome. Google now offers an official theme collection for Chrome. Just head to the Chrome Web Store and install Chrome’s “Just Black” theme.

This is darker than Chrome’s built-in dark mode theme on Windows, so you might even prefer it if you’re looking for a darker browser. The Chrome Web Store has other themes you can install, too.

Just Black theme for Chrome

Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor in Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for nearly a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6 and Chicago's WGN-TV, and his work has been covered by news outlets like The New York Times and the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than 500 million times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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