What is dark mode on your phone and how to use it?

Should you be using dark mode on your phone and other mobile devices? Learn how to enable it and why.

What is dark mode?

Also known as ‘black mode’ and ‘night mode’ or even ‘dark theme’, dark mode is a feature that lets you switch the display setting for your smartphone or laptop. It replaces the usual white screen on your devices with shades of grey and black, meaning you’ll see light-coloured text against a dark background. This relatively new setting offers an alternative to the default colour themes of ‘light mode’ (dark-coloured text against a light background) that we are used to seeing.

iPhones and Android phones both offer the dark mode option, but you’ll need to enable it separately for popular apps such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Gmail.

What are the advantages of dark mode?

In short, dark mode reduces the light emitted by your device without compromising on readability. There are strong opinions from both camps about whether it’s healthier for your eyes to be in light or dark mode. Despite these conflicting theories, the scientific evidence is less clear cut. Switching to dark mode makes for a nice change but are there any real benefits beyond the novelty factor of a different colour display? Let’s find out...

Is dark mode good for your eyes?

While there have been studies into which colour theme is best for mobile users’ eye health, the results have been contradictory. We don’t yet have definitive evidence to be able to say for certain whether dark mode or light mode is best. What we do have, however, are some very strong arguments from people in both camps.

Which team are you?

On which side of the fence do you fall?

What are the disadvantages of dark mode?

Some experts veer toward the dark side and some to the light side. The ‘dark mode or light mode?’ debate remains a preference as opposed to a science, however there are some well-established disadvantages of dark mode:

How to enable dark mode on your phone

Dark mode is now available on most mobile phones. Depending on the make and model of your device, you may need to download the most recent software update in order to activate it. Let’s walk through how to change the colour theme settings on your mobile.

Dark mode for iPhone

If you have an Apple device updated to iOS 13 you have the option for system-wide dark mode (though some apps remain exempt) by completing the following:

  1. Go to ‘Settings’ > ‘Display & Brightness’.
  2. Select ‘Dark’.
  3. Adjust brightness as you see fit.

If you want to activate dark mode at specific times of the day, you can also:

  1. Go to ‘Settings’ > ‘Display & Brightness’.
  2. Toggle ‘Automatic’ on.
  3. Tap ‘Options’ and set your own schedule. Most people set it to ‘Sunset to Sunrise’.

Dark mode for Android phones

If you have an android phone updated to Android 10 you have the option for system-wide dark mode (though some apps remain exempt) by completing the following:

  1. Go to ‘Settings’ > ‘Display’.
  2. Select ‘Advanced’.
  3. Toggle the ‘Dark Theme’ on.

Dark mode for Samsung phones

Samsung phones also have their own dark mode setting. To activate it simply follow the steps below:

  1. Go to ‘Settings’ > ‘Display’.
  2. Toggle ‘Night Mode’ on.

How to turn on dark mode for your favourite apps

Today, there’s an app for almost everything. You can use Gmail to answer work emails on the morning commute, watch YouTube videos on your lunchbreak, and post pics of your night out on Instagram. If you’re a fan of dark mode, the good news is you can try it out on some of your favourite mobile apps. Let’s find out how:

Instagram

If you have an Android device, you can follow these steps to use Instagram with a dark background design:

  1. Tap your profile photo in the bottom-right.
  2. Tap the icon with three horizontal lines.
  3. Tap ‘Settings’ cog > ‘Theme’.
  4. Select ‘Dark’.

Facebook

Facebook messenger

If you want to turn on dark mode in Facebook messenger:

Twitter

Let’s discover how to turn on dark mode in the Twitter app.

YouTube

Follow the relevant steps below to view YouTube in dark mode on your iOS or android device.

Google maps

Let’s go through the easiest way to view the Google Maps app in official dark mode.

Gmail

Follow these steps to read and send emails in dark mode on the Gmail app.

Outlook

Here’s how to view and send emails in dark mode using the Outlook app.

When shouldn't I use dark mode?

While some report benefits from using dark mode, there are some situations where we recommend you don’t use it.

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