Mac User Enabling Dark Mode
Khamosh Pathak / How-To Geek

Your Apple Mac or MacBook has a dark mode that can help you work better at night and in low-light. Once enabled, supported apps and websites automatically switch to a dark background with white text. Here’s how to enable dark mode on Mac.

How to Enable Dark Mode From Control Center

Dark mode was first introduced with macOS Mojave. You could enable or disable it from the System Preferences. Mac users who are running macOS Big Sur and newer can now enable or disable dark mode right from the Control Center.

macOS Big Sur Dark Mode

Click the “Control Center” icon from the top-right corner of your screen.

From the Control Center drop-down window, click the “Display” module.

The Display module will now expand. Here, select the “Dark Mode” button to enable or disable the feature.

How to Add a Dark Mode Toggle to Menu Bar

With previous versions of macOS, you needed a third-party app to access a dark mode toggle from the menu bar. Thanks to the Control Center introduced in Big Sur, you can add this toggle to the menu bar without installing anything.

Open the “Control Center” on your Mac and then drag and drop the “Display” panel to the menu bar.

Drag Display Panel to Menu Bar

The Display panel will turn into an icon and sit permanently in your Mac’s menu bar. Click the “Display” button to expand the window. From here, select the “Dark Mode” button to quickly enable or disable the visual feature.

You can rearrange or remove the “Display” icon from the menu bar quite easily. Press and hold the “Command” key and then drag and drop the Display icon to where you want to move it.

If you want to remove the “Display” icon, drag the icon out to the “Desktop” and then let go.

How to Enable Dark Mode from System Preferences

If you’re using macOS Mojave or Catalina on your Mac, you don’t have access to the Control Center. Thankfully, you can enable or disable dark mode from System Preferences on any modern version of macOS.

Click the “Apple” button from the menu bar and choose the “System Preferences” option.

Select System Preferences from Apple Menu in Big Sur

Here, go to the “General” section.

From the “Appearance” section, you can switch between the “Light” and “Dark” modes.

Switch to Light or Dark mode

How to Schedule Dark Mode on Mac

macOS can also enable or disable dark mode automatically based on the time of the day. Go to System Preferences > General, and from the “Appearance” section, choose the “Auto” option.

Select Auto from Appearance

Once this option is enabled, macOS will automatically enable dark mode in the evening. And when you open up your Mac in the morning, macOS will be back in light mode.

If you want to enable dark mode at a specific time, you can use a third-party app called NightOwl. It’s a free menu bar utility that works with macOS Mojave and higher.

The utility also serves as a quick-switch for enabling and disabling dark mode from the menu bar. Simply right-clicking the “NightOwl” icon from the menu bar enables or disables dark mode.

After NightOwl is installed and you have approved permissions, you can click the “NightOwl” button and enable the “Scheduled” feature. Then, enter the time when you want to enable the Light or Dark mode.

Schedule Dark Mode from NightOwl

Want to force websites to switch to dark mode as well? Here’s how you can make that happen in Safari and Chrome.

RELATED: How to Get Dark Mode for All Websites on Mac

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Khamosh Pathak is a freelance technology writer who specializes in tutorials. His work has also been published on Lifehacker, iPhoneHacks, Zapier's blog, MakeUseOf, and Guiding Tech. Khamosh has nearly a decade of experience writing how-tos, features and technology guides on the internet.
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