Chrome dark mode: why you need it, and how to get it

Chrome dark mode is an alternative design for the web browser that exchanges its usual gray and white interface for shades of black and charcoal. It’s a popular option, but why does it matter so much, and how can you activate it?

There are several reasons to choose Chrome dark mode. On mobile devices, perhaps the biggest factor is battery life. Your phone’s screen uses a lot of power, and in 2018, Google itself confirmed that apps with darker interfaces use much less juice than their bright, white counterparts.

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Choosing dark mode also means you’re exposed to less blue light, which may affect your ability to sleep. Lack of sleep not only leaves you feeling tired and cranky, it’s also associated with obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

Finally, it just looks cool. Google’s Material Design language and Facebook’s latest refresh are both very bright and white, and switching to dark mode makes a refreshing change. If those reasons are enough to tempt you, here’s how to make the switch to dark mode in Chrome for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS.

Unlike some browsers (such as Firefox and Vivaldi) there’s no simple box to tick or switch to click, and Chrome’s dark mode is activated in a different way for each operating system.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide, which will explain how to enable dark mode for Chrome for Windows, macOS, iOS, iPadOS or Android. We’ll also show you how Chrome can be used to ‘force’ dark mode on websites that don’t officially support it, transforming your whole online experience.

Chrome dark mode for Windows 10

1. Enter the Settings menu, choose ‘Personalization’ click ‘Colors’ and scroll down to the switch marked ‘Choose your default app mode’.

2. Change this to ‘Dark’ and all apps with a native dark mode, including Chrome, will change color. There’s no need to restart your browser.

Chrome dark mode for macOS

1. Open ‘System Preferences’, click ‘General’, select ‘Appearance’.

2. Select the ‘Dark’ option. As with Windows, all apps with a native dark mode will change automatically with no further input from you.

Chrome dark mode for Android

1. Dark mode is still an experimental feature in Chrome for Android, so bear in mind that some design elements might look a little strange. To activate it, enter chrome://flags in the browser’s address bar.

2. Tap the ‘Search flags’ box and enter the work dark. You’ll find two options here: ‘Android web contents dark mode’ and ‘Android Chrome UI dark mode’. If you activate the first option, Chrome will detect if a site’s developers have created a dark version and select it automatically. If there’s no dark version available, the browser will invert the site’s colors. Activating the second option means that the browser interface itself will turn dark.

3. Tap the drop-down menu under each of these options and change the setting to ‘Activated’, then restart Chrome.

4. Now open the settings menu, tap ‘Themes’ and select ‘Dark’. If you can’t see the Themes option, restart Chrome again and it should appear.

Chrome dark mode for iPad or iPhone

Google hasn’t released a dark mode for Chrome on iOS, but it’s a work in progress and may become available with the browser’s next major update. We’ll update this article with instructions on activating it when it arrives. For the time being, you can use the Invert feature to achieve a similar effect.

1. Open ‘Settings’ and select ‘General > Accessibility > Display accomodations’.

2. Toggle ‘Classic Invert’ to invert the colors of everything on your device’s screen, or ‘Smart invert’ to leave images alone but invert everything else.

Force dark mode on websites using Chrome

Some websites have their own dark modes, which will be activated automatically when you’re using dark mode in Chrome. For those that don’t, the browser can ‘force’ dark mode by inverting certain colors.

The feature isn’t yet fully implemented, so you won’t find it in the main menu, but you can try it out by visiting chrome://flags/#enable-force-dark and flipping the switch to ‘Enabled’.

Now, if you’re using Chrome in dark mode, all websites should automatically change color to match. The feature isn’t perfect yet, so some sites may look a little strange, but it generally works well.

How to forcibly enable Dark Mode on every website with Google Chrome

Now there’s a way to enable a dark theme for any website’s content, not just for the OS and browser UI.

Google Chrome 78 introduced a new feature called Forced Dark Mode that forcibly enables a dark theme for any website, regardless if the website supports one or not.

This “dark mode” refers to a website’s content, and should not be confused with the operating system’s dark mode, or the browser’s UI dark mode. Those dark modes refer to the color of the OS and the browser’s user interface elements, and not to a website’s color scheme.

For example, a website like ZDNet does not natively support a dark mode. By default, our website has a light theme, showing black text on a white background, like most other news sites.

However, with Forced Dark Mode, anyone can enable a dark theme for the ZDNet (or any other) website, showing white text on a dark background. For the image below, we purposely left the OS and Chrome in a light theme, but put the ZDNet website in a forced dark mode, via Chrome.

To enable Forced Dark Mode in Chrome 78 and later, users must enable a Chrome flag — a special browser setting that enables a hidden feature.

All Chrome flags are accessible at the chrome://flags address. The official name for this feature is “Force Dark Mode for Web Contents” and its shortcut is:

chrome://flags/#enable-force-dark

Several options are available in the dropdown menu accompanying this Chrome flag; however, they all work the same, with slight variations, so there’s no need to panic or feel overwhelmed.

Under the hood, Forced Dark Mode uses color theory to inverse the color to its exact opposite (white to black, and vice-versa).

There are several color models through which the opposite colors can be computed, and the options available in the dropdown reflect the different ways through which Chrome will reverse colors.

They all do the same thing, and the result is mostly the same. In the end, it’s just a matter of personal taste of what “Forced Dark Mode” looks more appealing to each one of us.

Users will need to test each one and see which is to their liking. You can’t go wrong with CIELAB, if you need a quick recommendation.

How to Enable Chrome’s Dark Mode on Android and Apple iOS

Dark mode allows us all to stare at our phones a little more comfortably, especially at night—and it’s great for your device’s battery life, too. So last year’s arrival of dark mode capability in the world’s most popular web browser, Google Chrome, was a welcome site for sore eyes (perhaps literally). You can use Chrome’s dark mode with both Android and iOS. Here’s how to enable it on your device.

Before we get started, though, a quick warning: Enabling dark mode or dark theme on your device doesn’t mean that every webpage you browse will be dark. It simply changes Chrome’s homepage, toolbars, settings menus and some pages. But if you’ve wholly pledged yourself to the dark side, you can force Chrome to display other pages in dark mode, which we’ll also explain below.

How to enable dark mode for Chrome on Android

Chrome’s dark mode is available on devices running Android 5 and up—and while you’re at it, it’s a good idea to make sure your Chrome Android app is up to date, too. Make sure you download the most recent Chrome update from the Google Play Store, if any is available.

Once you’re properly updated, do the following:

  1. Open Chrome on your device.
  2. In the top right corner, tap the three vertical dots > Settings > Themes.
  3. Choose the Dark theme. Or you can select System Default, which will put Chrome in dark mode if Battery Saver is enabled or if your device-wide settings are set to dark.

You can also use an experimental Chrome feature called “Force Dark Mode for Web Contents” to make most websites display dark, even if they weren’t designed to. We’ve talked about this before, so to recap quickly, type chrome://flags/#enable-force-dark into your Chrome address bar, hit Enter, and toggle to enable the feature.

How to enable dark mode for Chrome on iOS

Dark Mode is a systemwide setting available on iOS 13 and later, rather than an option specific to Chrome. If you’ve enabled Dark Mode on your iOS device, all apps that support it will be dark—including Chrome.

To turn on Dark Mode, go to your device’s Settings > Display & Brightness. Toggle on the Dark option. Or, if you prefer a shortcut, swipe down to open the Control Center, long-press on the Brightness meter, and toggle Dark Mode on.

That’s it. Chrome will automatically switch from light to dark, which you can check by relaunching the app.

Chrome’s Force Dark Mode function is available on a Mac desktop or laptop, but not iOS. If you want to force websites to display dark on your iPhone, you can get around this using the iOS Smart Invert setting. This is found under Settings > Accessibility > Display & Text Size. Scroll down and toggle “Smart Invert.”

You may find certain text or page elements display incorrectly with dark mode (or Smart Invert) enabled. If this is too annoying, you can always disable dark mode—or switch it to a schedule, rather than a default. Just keep in mind that switching to light mode on iOS will affect all of your apps, not just Chrome.

This article was originally published in 2019 by Brendan Hesse and updated on April 28, 2020 by Emily Long. Our updates include the following: revised steps for Android for accuracy, added information about forcing dark mode on websites not built for it, added steps and screenshots for iOS and changed the headline.

How to Enable Google Chrome’s Dark Mode on Windows 10

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.”

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.

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.

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.”

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

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.