Okay, the bad news: we didn’t get an official Dark Mode in iOS 11 and we still don’t have one in iOS 12!
Yup, we’re still waiting for Apple to release a true Dark Mode for iOS!
One big thing many users have wanted in iOS is a proper dark mode, which would change white backgrounds in the iOS to black backgrounds.
But alas, still not this time around for iPhones and iPads
Apple currently offers Dark Mode for Apple TV and Macs (Laptops and Desktops) running macOS Sierra and Mac OSX Yosemite-El Capitan. Apple even has a special dynamic dark mode for macOS Mojave!
And of course, Dark Mode a tried and true standard for dedicated digital readers like Amazon’s Kindle.
While we still don’t have the function to enable dark mode, we do have some special tricks that bring us closer to the dream of a robust and fully functioning dark iOS mode.
- 1 Quick Tips
- 2 What is Dark Mode Anyway?
- 3 Setting a Dark Mode Appearance on iDevices
- 4 Enabling Quasi-Dark Mode Method #1
- 5 Enabling Quasi-Dark Mode Method #2
- 6 Enabling Quasi-Dark Mode Method #3
- 7 Safari’s Dark Mode
- 8 Dark Mode is App Available Right Now!
- 9 Summary
- Where is Dark Mode for iOS?
- How-To Enable Dark Mode and Dynamic Display on macOS Mojave
- Why is my iPhone XS/XS Max/XR Display so Dark and Dim?
- Where’s Auto-Brightness in iOS and Why is My iPhone Screen Darker?
- Is Your iPhone Display Too Dim, Yellow, or Dark? Fix Display Problems
Follow These Quick Tips To Set Up A “Sorta” Dark Mode on Your iPhone and iPad
- Use the accessibility feature Smart Invert for iOS 11 and iOS 12
- Toggle ON the accessibility feature Invert Colors for earlier iOS versions
- Enable Low Light Filter
- Reduce your White Point
- Enable Safari’s Dark Mode and for Apple Maps, Music, and other native Apple Apps
- Turn on Dark Mode in many third-party apps including Facebook Messenger
What is Dark Mode Anyway?
Currently, the user interface of iOS is bright & brilliant and features high contrast white-ish backgrounds in almost all of its stock apps (Safari, Mail, Messages, etc.)
These colorful backgrounds are often distracting, especially when used in dimly lit environments. The result of all this brightness is often eyestrain and visual fatigue.
Dark Mode inverts your iPhone or iDevice font colors
Your standard iPhone Helvetica font changes to white instead of black. As a result, the white translucent layers are replaced with black translucent layers.
Dark Mode turns your Mac’s, Apple TV’s, and iDevice’s look and feel and creates easy nighttime viewing.
More importantly, dark mode offers breathing space and a reprieve for your eyes in low light environments, like restaurants, pubs, and even museums–places where you might find yourself squinting to read.
Consequently, dark mode reduces eyestrain and for those of us with aging eyesight, that’s a significant benefit.
And finally, with the new OLED screens, dark colors use less power than light colors and black doesn’t use any power at all. So Dark Mode has the potential to save battery because it needs less power.
Plus, we think dark mode looks pretty darn cool too.
So here’s how it works!
Setting a Dark Mode Appearance on iDevices
There are a few ways to emulate Dark Mode on your iDevice using iOS 10 or above.
Though none are a true dark mode, a few of these options come close…and others create a better viewing experience that’s easier on your eyes.
Enabling Quasi-Dark Mode Method #1
- Go to Settings > General > Accessibility >Display Accommodations
- Toggle Invert Colors ON or Select Invert Colors > Smart Invert
- Smart Invert is available on iOS 11+ and works on some but not all iDevices
- Night Shift is automatically disabled
Invert creates a negative of what’s on screen, so all colors shift to their opposite on the color wheel–white becomes black, black becomes white, green becomes magenta, blue becomes orange, and so forth.
This feature is meant to help people whose eyes have difficulty seeing the onscreen information with the traditional iDevice’s whites palette.
So all text is white-on-black versus black on white.
Though not a “real” dark mode, inverting colors allows you to text or email in dark places like movie theaters, etc. without drawing attention.
And inverting colors helps at night to reduce eyestrain for healthier nighttime viewing of our iDevices.
The downside of Invert Colors is that it does invert ALL COLORS to their opposite.
So while some are pleasing, like white to black and black to white, others are distracting to downright ugly!
A negative of your Home Screen’s Photo and all your apps are probably NOT easy on the eyes. So use Invert Colors with caution.
About Smart Invert
Smart Invert, available in iOS 11 &12, is a Display Accommodation under Accessibility Settings that intelligently reverses (or inverts) your display’s colors to its opposite on the color wheel.
So for example, white appears black, green appears magenta, yellow appears blue and so forth just like in regular Invert Colors Mode.
But with iOS’s Smart Invert selected, your photos, wallpaper, app thumbnails, and some other media is not inverted.
But it doesn’t work universally, and images, especially from your web browsers, are still inverted and look like negatives.
Smart Invert is not a full dark mode but rather an in-between mode or “sorta” dark mode. But it is a step in the right direction.
Quick Access to Invert Colors
For easy access to invert colors when you need it, like for reading at night, set-up Invert Colors as your Accessibility Shortcut.
Just tap your home button three times rapidly, and it inverts your on-screen colors.
Enable this triple-click feature under Settings > General > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut and select Invert Colors (may be labeled Classic Invert Colors) or Smart Invert.
Enabling Quasi-Dark Mode Method #2
- First off, head into Accessibility by going into Settings > General > Accessibility. Select Zoom
- Turn Zoom on.
- A lens pops up over the screen.
- At this point, take three fingers and tap three times. This menu pops up
- Start by selecting Resize lens and then resize it to fill your entire screen
- Next, triple tap again and move the zoom slider all the way down, so you see the whole screen
- Finally, select Choose Filter and then Low Light
While this still isn’t allowing us to enable dark mode, it does provide a much more comfortable experience on your eyes, especially at night and in low light situations.
Quick Access For Low Light Filter
For easy access to invert colors when you need it, like for reading or watching shows at night, set-up Zoom as your Accessibility Shortcut.
Just tap your home or side button three times rapidly, and it turns on the low light filter.
Enable this triple-click feature under Settings > General > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut and select Zoom.
Enabling Quasi-Dark Mode Method #3
- Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations >Reduce White Point
- Slide the Reduce White Point slider to the right to decrease the intensity of bright colors
Like method #2, using Reduce White Point does not replicate dark mode, but it does lessen the strength of your whites, for a screen that’s better on your eyes.
Quick Access For Reduce White Point
For easy access to invert colors when you need it, like for reading or watching shows at night, set-up Reduce White Point as your Accessibility Shortcut.
Just tap your home or side button three times rapidly, and it automatically reduces your screen’s white point.
Enable this triple-click feature under Settings > General > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut and select Reduce White Point.
Safari’s Dark Mode
Tucked away in Safari is a unique dark mode that most people even don’t know about!
This feature turns your browser into a dark reading mode for almost all browser article, changing your on-screen text to white on a black background.
Pretty awesome for night-time reading!
How-To Enable Safari’s Dark Mode
- Open Safari
- Look for the phrase Reader View Available in the navigation bar
- Not all sites support reader view
- Tap on the reader mode icon
- It’s the four lines on the left side of your URL address bar
- Tap on “aA” icon on the right side of your URL address bar
- In the Font Drop Down Menu, select the black background color circle
- White backgrounds change to black
- Black text changes to light gray
As you see, pictures display normally while text appears light gray on black. This feature only works in Safari, so it’s not a system-wide dark mode.
For people who spend a lot of time reading in Safari, this is a great feature to use at night or when in dark spaces and places.
Dark Mode is App Available Right Now!
Many of our favorite reading apps like Apple Books, Music, Stocks, and many third-party apps already include dark mode as an app setting.
These change the backgrounds to black and the text to an off-white or light gray.
Using dark mode in your reading app is especially useful when reading content on your iDevice at night or in a dark or dimmed environment.
For parents, enabling this mode is a must when reading a bedtime story to your children from your iDevice at night.
It reduces the amount of light emanating from your iPhone/iPad, AND it saves your eyes from eyestrain!
So reduced distraction for your children, so they fall asleep faster–we hope — a total WIN-WIN.
Apple Maps also has an official Dark Mode–called Night Mode
It’s especially useful when driving at night. For Maps, iOS detects a dark environment using its ambient light sensor and alters the colors of Maps.
And of course, Apple Watch ONLY has Dark Mode
This feature is mainly due to its use of OLED displays versus the LED screens of many iPhones, iPads, and other iDevices.
The advantage of an OLED display is that it lights up only the pixels that it needs for each particular screen display.
That makes OLED displays a heck of a lot more efficient than LED displays.
And that matters because the more efficient our display is, the LESS the battery consumes energy.
Dark Mode makes viewing your iDevice in all types of lighting situations a heck of a lot better. Though Apple did not include an official Dark Mode with iOS 12, we fully expect it to arrive soon…maybe in the next update to iOS.
Hopefully! Cause we’ve waited a long time…
We are crossing our fingers here at AppleToolBox that it arrives sooner than later.
For now, Dark Mode is near the top of our iOS wish list! So let your voice be heard by sending Apple some feedback. And join all of us here at AppleToolBox in letting Apple know that we want “dark mode” in the next iOS!
We believe that not having Dark Mode hurts the user experience. So it’s time for a universal Dark Mode Option on all iDevices. So checking email, messages, Twitter, Facebook, and using Safari are as easy on the eyes as our dedicated reading apps.
Let’s face it, we use our iDevices all the time–when riding in a car at night, on overnight flights, and most commonly in bed next to a sleeping person.
If and when Apple provides a dark mode within its operating system (iOS) and available for all apps, viewing our iDevices at night and in low/lower light condition will no longer be a challenge or disruption.
But in the meantime, use these filter options to produce a (somewhat) similar effect.
Binyamin has been writing about Apple and the tech sector as a whole for over five years.
His work has been featured on Forbes, MacWorld, Giga, MacLife, and more.
Additionally, Goldman is the Founder of BZG, a software development company focusing on Apple devices.
Currently a Senior Writer at AppleToolbox, Goldman has written for Updato and Inside Pulse and was a founding member of WatchAware and Mulling Apple.