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Paint It Black: 15 Ways to Dark Mode Your PC

Getting Light Text on a Dark Background

By default, most software shows dark text on a white background, much like old-fashioned ink on paper. However, many prefer the exact opposite, light-colored text on a dark screen, and find it easier on the eyes. Who wants to stare at a bright white screen in a room with the lights off?

From Windows' setup menu to all three major web browsers to social media sites like Twitter, many programs and web tools offer ways to change into what they call either Dark Mode, Dark Theme or Night Mode. Here's how to get light text on a black background in over a dozen popular PC and web-based apps.

Turning on Dark Mode in Windows 10

To enable dark mode in Windows 10, right click on the desktop and select Personalize. Click Colors in the left pane. Then scroll down and select Dark under Choose your default app mode.

Settings Menus

Entering Windows 10's dark mode makes all of the operating system's setting menus have light text on a dark background. You can control the color of the icons by choosing an accent color in Settings->Personalization->Colors.

File Explorer

In current Windows 10 Insider builds, enabling dark mode in the settings menu also turns it on for File Explorer. However, if you don't want to run an Insider Build of the operating system, you'll have to wait for the next major update.

Microsoft Office Menus

If you want all of your Microsoft Office apps to turn dark, all you need to do is open one of them (ex: Word), navigate to the File tab, click Account and then select Black from the Office Theme menu. These settings will affect the menus in Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more.

Word Documents

Even if you change the Office theme to black, the actual documents will still show black text on a white background. If you want to change the editing area for all new documents, first open the Normal.dotm file, which is likely located in C:Users[YOURID]AppDataRoamingMicrosoftTemplates.

Navigate to the Design tab and select black from the Page Color pulldown. The text will automatically be white. Save the file. Then navigate to File->Options->Advanced and check "Show background colors and images in Print Layout view."

Existing documents that other people send you will still be black on white, unless you head over to the Design tab and select black from the Page Color menu each time.

High-Contrast Mode for Windows

Windows 10's dark mode changes the menus on the settings menu, File Explorer (in Insider builds) and a few other places, but it doesn't affect the vast majority of traditional apps people use. When you really, really want all of your programs to have light text and dark backgrounds in their menus, you can enable Windows' high-contrast mode.

Keep in mind, though, that high-contrast mode is a blunt instrument and makes a lot of things in UI look very ugly. For example, the live tiles in the Start menu look just awful. However, if you decide you want high-contrast mode, navigate to Settings-> Ease of Access -> High-Contrast and switch it to on.

Skype

Skype has a built-in dark theme. To activate it, navigate to Settings->General->Themes. Then choose Dark. It's that simple.

Twitter Night Mode

Twitter's dark mode is called Night Mode. To activate Night Mode, click on your profile picture and select it from the menu.

Dark Mode for Web Pages in Chrome / Firefox

No matter how dark the rest of your apps appear, most web pages will still have dark text on a black background, unless you use a browser extension to solve the problem.

Download Dark Mode for Chrome or for Firefox. It puts a switch into your browser toolbar and, if you toggle it to on, all web pages change to white on black. It also offers a variety of custom dark modes or modes that are made just for popular sites such as Google, Amazon and Reddit.

Dark Themes in Your Browser

To make the tabs, address bar and toolbars in your browser turn to the dark side, you need a new theme, and there are many options. Chrome's store has a huge listing of dark themes. The Morpheon Dark theme is my favorite. 

Firefox users have a built-in dark theme they can active by navigating to Customize from the settings menu and then selecting Dark from the theme pulldown on the bottom of the screen.

In Edge, navigate to Settings and select Dark from the Choose a theme menu.

  • Dark Lord of Tech
    For the OS use WindowBlinds from Stardock , loaded with options.
    Reply
  • shinto
    This all-black theme is best on an OLED display.
    Reply
  • dz.ernesto
    Toms hardware could have a back theme option too...
    Reply
  • tom10167
    This is really helpful, your best article yet.

    I would like to add: For those already using Stylish or much preferably Stylus, you'll have noticed a lot of sites won't have a dark theme. The theme here https://userstyles.org/styles/158321/global-dark-style-everything-to-dark-2018 is really good for that. In Stylus under manage the "applies to" lets you use it on specific sites like a whitelist, or you can set it to not apply to certain sites, like a blacklist. Didn't know about the dark settings in Windows though, really nice addition.
    Reply
  • dalauder
    I do find it amusing that through all of this, discussion of Tom's Dark Theme is absent. Is it in the works?

    Thanks for the Windows and Office Tips. I use the Dark Reader extension for Chrome myself.
    Reply
  • seriega5
    ...…? ?©
    Reply
  • derekullo
    I found this article very enlight ... darkening.
    Reply
  • Mike Krapp
    Very poor article
    Reply
  • Jake Hall
    Youtube never stays dark, for me. Windows 10 File explorer took some tweaking to get right, but i'm glad they're finally incorperating it. Google and stupid-ass facebook need a dark theme too.
    Reply
  • shrapnel_indie
    There is some sloppiness in the article:

    Referencing Word for a dark theme and changing the documentatio color refers to: C:UsersAppDataRoamingMicrosoftTemplates.Where's the backslashes? a quick cut-and-paste will result in an error for those who don't realize they're missing. While on the subject of Word, this help only seems to apply to Office365, a monthly subscription service based Office product. Not everybody WANTS to pay a monthly fee for the product, especially when older versions work just fine. (Also we have less to worry about in the potential of MS feeding themselves "telemetry" via Office365.)

    Oddly, Notepad++ seems to default to a non-dark theme (light background, dark text), at least everytime I've installed it... Yeah, you can switch it to a dark theme of your choice, but if you have any custom Language definitions, be prepared to work on changing them to keep a dark theme.
    Reply