How to make the most of macOS Mojave's Dark Mode

Mac's Dark Mode is more than just a pretty face--the new feature eases eye strain and helps improve focus. Learn how to maximize Dark Mode with these tips.

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Figure A: Dark Mode in macOS Mojave

The new macOS Mojave Dark Mode feature is much more than a gimmick or fresh change of pace for Mac users who enjoy switching up their computer display--Dark Mode adjusts display settings system-wide and darkens windows, menus, and views. Programmers, production staff, and others who work in lower-light conditions will especially find Dark Mode a welcome innovation, while others will find the feature's darker palette less disruptive or jarring than the white backgrounds and bright menus (Figure A).

SEE: macOS Mojave: A guide for IT leaders (Tech Pro Research)

Using Dark Mode, macOS helps improve focus by emphasizing foreground vs. background information. Content subsequently becomes more vibrant, too. Because Dark Mode colors aren't simply inversions of lighter shades, display effects are more attractive. While Apple's human interface guidelines note many colors are inverted, the guidelines also recommend the use of dark lines, which help create visual separation between elements.

The results are subtle, effective, and assisted by Dark Mode's Desktop Tinting effect, which extends aspects of user desktop images onto window backgrounds. Glare, a problem for all computer users operating light-emitting screens throughout the day, is reduced. Color and details become more prominent. Ultimately, all the aspects combine to reduce eye strain and fatigue.

While my jury's still out on reduced battery life due to Dark Mode use (a topic for which internet debate is particularly spirited), I've been using Dark Mode since macOS Mojave was released. I so prefer the view that I've begun seeking applications specifically developed with Dark Mode compatibility; macOS Calendar (Figure B), Finder and Mail, Airmail, Bear, Numbers, Keynote, Pages, Pixelmator, Reminders, and Todoist are a few applications that assist users seeking to make the most of Dark Mode operation.

Figure B

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Image: Apple Inc.

Some applications work better in Dark Mode than others. Microsoft Office for Mac users who opt into the Office Insider Fast community can already load new builds of Microsoft's Dark Mode-compatible apps. Free Dark Mode extensions are available for Google Chrome users, too, including Grephy's Dark Mode and ChromeExtension's Super Dark Mode. If you stick with Safari as I tend to do, consider Denk Alexandru's Dark Mode extension for $1.99. I've found it works reasonably well, although anytime a third-party web extension is being asked to do the work of a human developer on the fly for myriad number of menus, fields, settings, and views, occasional hiccups (such as difficult-to-read text in certain areas or poorly highlighted fields) arise.

Regardless, Dark Mode's benefits far outweigh these anomalies. I'm a believer.

SEE: Apple macOS Mojave: An insider's guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

To see for yourself, enable Dark Mode by clicking the Apple icon from the macOS menu and selecting System Preferences. Click General, then click Dark to specify Dark Mode within the Appearance section. Feel free to set the Accent Color to graphite (gray) to further extend darker shades throughout menus and selections.

If you're working with multiple monitors, return to System Preferences and click Desktop & Screen Saver. From the monitor you wish to make display adjustments, change the Desktop picture to Dynamic (which changes throughout the day) or the Still desktop image you wish to use on that monitor. Adjusting desktops to match Dark Mode helps maximize the effect, so don't be afraid to experiment with different combinations.

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