Dark mode is everywhere from Mac, Windows, Android, and now on the iPhone and iPad. iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 finally brings the much-coveted feature to Apple’s devices. It looks great, and it automatically works with supported apps and websites.
How to Enable Dark Mode on iPhone and iPad
When you enable dark mode, the entire UI on your iPhone or iPad flips. You now see a black background and white text. Apple has gone with a true black theme which means that the background at most places is pure black instead of a dark gray.
This looks great on iPhones with an OLED display (iPhone X, XS, XS Max, 11, and 11 Max) as the pixels just don’t light up. To maintain readability, Apple has gone for a gray background for some background elements. We’ve talked about the intricacies of the dark mode interface in detail before.
So let’s get to the nitty-gritty. To enable the dark mode on your iPhone or iPad, first, open the Control Center.
If you have an iPhone X-style device with a notch, swipe down from the top-right edge of the screen. The same goes for iPad users. If you’re using an iPhone with a Home button, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open Control Center.
Here, tap and hold on the “Brightness” slider.
Now, tap on the “Dark mode” button to turn it on. If you want to disable the feature, you can tap on the icon again.
Alternatively, you can turn dark mode on or off through the Settings menu. You can do this by going to Settings > Display and tap on “Dark.”
Add a Dark Mode Toggle to the Control Center
If you’re like me, you’ll want a dedicated switch for dark mode. It’s available as an additional toggle in Control Center.
To enable it, go to Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls.
From this screen, tap on the “+” button next “Dark mode.”
This will enable the dedicated dark mode toggle at the end of the Control Center. Tap on the button to toggle dark mode on and off. There’s no more need to go to the brightness menu!
Set Dark Mode on a Schedule
You can also automate the dark mode feature by setting up a schedule. Open the “Settings” app and go to “Display and Brightness.”
From the “Appearance” section, tap on the toggle next to “Automatic.”
Then tap on the “Options” button to switch between the “Sunset to Sunrise” option and a “Custom Schedule” option.
If you choose the “Custom Schedule” option, you’ll be able to specify the precise time dark mode should kick in.
Dark Mode Works With Compatible Apps and Websites
Just like macOS Mojave, the dark mode on iPhone and iPad works with supported apps and websites.
Once an app updates for iOS 13 and supports this feature, it will automatically switch the app’s theme to dark theme when you turn on the system dark mode from Control Center.
Here, for example, is the LookUp Dictionary app. In the left screenshot, the app is in the default light mode. And on the right, you can see what the app looks like in dark mode.
All I did between these two screenshots was to go to the Control Center and turn on dark mode. Once apps start supporting this feature, you won’t need to find the dark mode feature in individual apps.
The same goes for Safari. If a website supports the dark mode feature in CSS, it will automatically switch between the light and the dark themes based on the system settings.
In the screenshot below, you can see the feature in action for the Twitter website in Safari.
Currently, there’s no way to blacklist apps from this automatic theme switching feature.
But for websites, you can disable the feature altogether by going to Settings > Safari > Advanced > Experimental Features and turning off the “Dark mode CSS support” option.
Alternative To Dark Mode: Smart Invert
The automatic dark mode will only work for apps that support the feature in iOS 13, iPadOS 13, and above. What if you want to enable dark mode in an app that doesn’t support it? Use the Smart invert feature as a workaround.
Smart invert is an accessibility feature that automatically inverts the UI colors without touching the images and other media. With this workaround, you can get a decent white-text-on-black-background interface.
To enable it, go to Settings > Accessibility > Display and Text Size and then toggle on “Smart Invert.”
You can see the difference between a website in light mode and with Smart invert turned on in the screenshots below. Although most of the website inverts correctly, some areas—such as the menu bar in the below example—don’t look like they should.
Granted, the Smart invert feature doesn’t work for everything, but it’s a good alternative. If a developer doesn’t add dark mode to their app(s), this (somewhat) works.