Battery saving, visual comfort… All about the dark mode of your devices

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You’ve heard of “dark mode,” but you don’t know what it is. Or maybe you don’t know how to activate it on your device? Don’t panic, here’s everything you need to know about dark mode.

You’ve surely seen it appear on websites, in the menus of your phone or even in certain applications that you use every day… Dark mode is now an integral part of our digital lives. But concretely, what is this new opportunity that abounds on the web for? Why are all the sites suddenly starting to offer it? And how is it possible to exploit it?

Today we tell you all about this discreet feature that can improve your browsing experience on smartphones, tablets or computers.

What is dark mode?

Not surprisingly, the dark mode (or “dark mode” as the Anglo-Saxons call it) has its own Wikipedia page, which describes the phenomenon quite well. “dark mode […] is a choice of color (or theme) applied to icons, text, and human-machine interfaces displayed on a dark background of a website or operating system.“To put it more simply, it is the act of changing the user interface (usually designed on a white background) of a website or application to a darker color palette or all black.

Be careful not to confuse it with the “night mode” offered by some PCs and some phones. This option has the effect of yellowing the screen to reduce the user’s exposure to blue light. Dark mode is also not a simple transition to “negative” of a website in light mode, as it often requires redesign of logos, buttons and the menu to offer the most comfortable and ergonomic navigation. A successful dark mode therefore requires that each development team behind each website or application rethinks, to a greater or lesser extent, the interface of its service. That’s why you don’t necessarily see the option anywhere on the web. Behind this small aesthetic change are problems with ergonomics and readability.

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What is dark mode for?

The easy answer to this question is “to offer more choices”. It happens that internet users prefer darker interfaces for the sake of reading comfort. The blinding white of Google’s website, for example, is not necessarily suitable for surfing sessions on a smartphone from the bottom of your bed in the dark. But dark mode also has a more technical advantage: it allows in some cases to save energy and therefore the battery of his phone or tablet.

OLED screens, which have now become widely available on our phones, TVs and game consoles, have the advantage of not consuming anything when the screen is black. Unlike IPS displays that need constant backlighting from the panel, the OLED can turn off some of its pixels individually. As a result, displaying a black screen uses next to nothing as no backlight mechanism is required.

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If your smartphone (or your tablet or your PC) has an OLED screen, activating dark mode turns off certain parts of the screen and therefore saves battery power. However, this only applies to “true” dark modes with a black background. Many applications or websites choose a blue gradient as a dark mode. The latter therefore offers no advantage in terms of energy consumption (since every pixel is on), but offers those who want it better reading comfort.

True dark states may also be suitable for certain accessibility issues thanks to the more pronounced contrast. Less white background, it is also less blue light.

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These technical explanations are all good, but really, how can you take advantage of dark mode on your phone or tablet? The two major mobile OSes, Android and iOS, each offer an option to switch all or parts of their interfaces to dark mode.

On Android

If you use Google’s OS and want to enable dark mode, it’s simple:

  • Meet in your Settings app,
  • Find the menu Screen Where Display and brightness,
  • You should find an option to switch to dark mode.

Android dark mode illustration

How to Enable Dark Mode on Android

© Corentin Bechade

Your phone may even offer advanced dark mode options, such as activation from a specific time or adjusting interface contrasts.

On iOS

On Apple’s mobile system, dark mode is activated with a few clicks:

  • Meet in the app Settings,
  • Choose Brightness and display,
  • Switch from light mode to dark mode with the option at the top of the page.

iOS dark mode illustrations

The procedure to enable dark mode on an iPad or iPhone

© Corentin Bechade

The “Automatic” setting below will automatically switch from light mode to dark mode depending on the time of day or a custom schedule.

Dark mode is also available on computers. How to activate it:

On Windows 10/11

  • Open the app Settings,
  • Select the submenu Personalization,
  • Go to the tab Colors,
  • At option level Choose your color (or Windows Mode/App Mode on Windows 11) select Dark.

Windows dark mode illustration

How to Enable Dark Mode on Windows

© Corentin Bechade

On macOS

  • open apple menu in the upper left corner,
  • Choose System Preferences,
  • click on General,
  • In the episode Appearance condition choose Dark.

macOS dark mode illustration

The procedure to follow to activate the dark mode on a macOS

© Apple

The automatic setting allows the colors of the interface to change according to the time of day.

What about apps and websites?

Switching the interface of your OS to dark mode is good, switching your entire ecosystem to dark mode is even better! Many websites and applications today have a dark mode that anyone can use.

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Technically, OS-level controls (whether on mobile or desktop) instruct your apps to also use dark mode (if they have it). The same applies to some websites. Unfortunately, not all software and websites automatically record your settings. In this case, you will need to go through the settings for each to check if there is a dark mode and enable it if necessary. You can also switch certain programs to dark mode while keeping your OS in light mode.

Unfortunately, there is no universal way to enable dark mode. On Chrome, go to Settings thereafter Appearance Where Themes. On Twitter, you have to click the light bulb in the side menu or on More and postings online. On TikTok, the option is located in the tab Profile then in the menu Settings and privacy tucked away in the sidebar. On the websites it is very variable.

In short, you will have understood that no two applications or websites use the same interfaces to provide access to dark mode. But once the option is adopted, your favorite applications and websites will remember it.

Long surfing sessions in the middle of the night are yours without perforating your retina.

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