853 words
4 minutes

Save Your Eyes! A How-To Guide for Dark Theme Purists

Dark theme: the only respite for our computer screen-glued eyes.

White text on a black background? It seems a bit strange at first. However, if you haven’t already given it a try - I encourage you to give it a shot. If you use screens indoors for extended periods of time, you likely won’t go back to light mode.

Based on a study by the Nielsen Norman Group and careful research, it’s been found that reading light text on a dark background is actually a superior experience compared to dark text on a light background. It increases legibility, improves text-reading accuracy, and is less harsh on the iris. And when you’re working on computers all day, it really adds up.

Tech, web, and creative professionals are quickly becoming loyal dark theme adopters. For many the thought of even using a light theme is laughable when dark theme is an option. Recently, gaming chat and voice app Discord made removing light theme as an option their April Fool’s Day joke.

Dark theme caught my eye with the ill-fated Microsoft Zune range of devices. Its gorgeous, minimalist interface was the start of a design trend that would transform the software behemoth into what it is today. And it nailed dark theme.

No alt text provided for this image

But even in 2019, not all apps have adopted a dark theme option yet… and for some that have, they can be pretty well-hidden hidden. So here’s what you need to get dark theme on your favorite apps and websites.

Facebook Messenger#

Getting dark theme on Messenger is a little strange… you actually have to type in this moon emoji 🌙 to yourself in a message. Yes, this means searching for your own name and sending a message to your own account. After a fanfare of moons fall down the screen, dark mode is unlocked.

No alt text provided for this image

Google Chrome#

For the app itself, its simply a matter of selecting a different theme from the Google store. My personal favorite is Material Dark.

No alt text provided for this image

For browsing websites in general that are normally not light theme, you’ll need another Chrome extension to render webpages differently. This option is more hit or miss, so I generally skip this one. But an example would be Dark Reader.

No alt text provided for this image

Microsoft Outlook (2013 and newer)#

To enable a pseudo dark mode on Outlook desktop (2013 and newer), click File > Office Account and then select “Black” from the Office Theme dropdown menu.

No alt text provided for this image

It will look like this. The actual body of the email won’t change to dark theme, though.

No alt text provided for this image

Microsoft Outlook (Web)#

Dark mode on Outlook web is a bit more sophisticated and all-encompassing. It’s just a setting you can toggle. Works both on outlook.com and portal.office.com for Office 365.

No alt text provided for this image

Windows 10#

Within Windows 10 settings you can also enable Dark Mode. This will make certain apps, including Windows Explorer (the file system) dark. Just click Start, click the Settings gear, click Personalization, then Colors. It will be available at the bottom.

No alt text provided for this image


To enable dark mode on MacOS, go to System Preferences from the Apple menu. Then click “General,” and at the top change the Appearance section from Light to Dark.

No alt text provided for this image


Slack doesn’t have a true dark mode… but you can use a few advanced guides to get some. Here’s one for Mac OS and here’s one for Windows. It’s not the most elegant solution but it is an option.

No alt text provided for this image


Simply go to settings and enable it… this can be done both on desktop and mobile. Settings > Display and Sound > Dark mode for mobile, and just open the hamburger menu on desktop to reveal the option.

No alt text provided for this image


This is a setting you can turn on by clicking your picture and selecting “Dark theme!”

No alt text provided for this image


You can enable this same option on Twitch in a similar fashion without even signing in!

No alt text provided for this image


You goof, Discord has dark theme on by default! Thankfully text editors like Sublime Text and design programs like the Adobe Creative Cloud applications are dark mode by default also. Let’s hope other applications follow suit… for all of our sanity.

If you have an application that’s currently in light theme, do some quick digging in settings and see if there’s a dark theme option hidden somewhere!

When it comes to helping your eyes, dark theme helps, but it’s not everything#

So here’s another tip… get flux! It’s an app for Windows and MacOS that removes the more harmful blue colors and replaces them with software, more orange colors, and changes during the time of the day. This can be tweaked and set depending on your needs. For example if you’re a graphic designer or someone who needs color-correct viewing, you may have to disable it more often.

No alt text provided for this image

As of 6/29/2024, here’s a list of additional services and platforms that have added Dark Mode:

  • LinkedIn
  • Google Suite Apps
  • Facebook
  • Microsoft Teams
  • iOS
Save Your Eyes! A How-To Guide for Dark Theme Purists
David V. Kimball
Published at