Beyond Dark Mode: Making a Night-Friendly Mac

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macOS Mojave’s release brought an official, system-wide dark mode to Mac users for the first time. It’s beautiful and saves on eye strain. The dark mode blackens the formerly white interface, which is ideal for late-night workers.

But the system-wide dark mode isn’t the only look you have to save your eyes. You can check out these following late-night tips to make sure your Mac is night-friendly for your late-night study sessions.

0. System-Wide Dark Mode

macOS Mojave’s system-wide dark mode is a revelation for late-night workers. It’s beautiful and well integrated, requiring only a switch to enable. Visit System Preferences > General and select the Dark Mode option.

If your Mac doesn’t run Mojave, you can still get access to dark mode’s power.

Dark mode can also be dimmed further. By selecting dark grey as your accent color in System Preferences > General, the background tint color will change, allowing dark mode to get darker.

1. Toggle Night Mode Easily

If you don’t like to use night mode full time, you’ll want an easy way to turn it on and off. Opening System Preferences each time is kind of a drag.

NightOwl creates a menu bar application for controlling night mode. It also allows you to set an automatic timer to turn the mode on and off. NightOwl is still in early versions, so it might not be as reliable as you’d like yet.

2. Automatically Shift to Dark Mode

If you don’t like using dark mode during the day, you might just switch it off. But why are we doing repetitive tasks manually? That’s what computers are for!

Shifty, which typically controls Night Shift, has a built-in feature allowing it to toggle dark mode when Night Shift kicks in. After the sun sets, your Mac will automatically shift the screen to orange and enable Dark Mode. It’s one of the apps we recommend for managing dark mode settings, so it’s worth downloading.

3. Enable Time-Based Screen Dimming

Similarly, we can make the screen dim at specific times. While you might think macOS’ screen dimming functionality would take care of this, it doesn’t always work great. Further, it can often be fooled by lamps shining directly on your computer, as with a desk lamp you might use when burning the midnight oil.

NightTone will automatically dim your screen’s brightness based on a schedule. You can also use it to tint your screen in a far wider range of colors than simply orange.

4. Mastering Night Shift’s Settings

For years Flux was a must-have app for any night owls. Today, Flux on macOS has largely been supplanted by Night Shift. A built-in Mac utility, Night Shift automatically changes the color of your screen after sunset, tinting it more orange. This is supposed to help with sleep by improving light-based melatonin generation, and it’s definitely easier on the eyes.

Unlike Flux, Night Shift lacks significant settings. Shifty fixes that for us. This menu bar app provides almost exactly the same controls found in Flux. You can disable for specific apps, disable for a custom time period, change the degree of tinting, and disable for an hour. It’s a must-have utility for anyone who does color-sensitive work at night.

You could also stick with Flux, the progenitor of screen-warming applications for desktop computers. It works excellently and reliably and provides precise color options and scheduling tools well beyond what Shifty reveals.

5. Eliminating White Backgrounds on Websites

As much as possible, we should eliminate white background. With the entire system in dark mode, the most frequent culprit will be web pages.

Some sites, like YouTube and DuckDuckGo, offer built-in dark modes, while other sites require extensions or, more commonly, userscripts. Using a userscript browser extension like Stylus for Firefox or Tampermonkey for Chrome, we can implement custom CSS rules that change white backgrounds to black.

Once you’ve installed an appropriate extension, visit and check out what’s available. You can check out our favorite dark mode styles for Google, Wikipedia, and Stack Overflow, as well as a functional universal dark mode with customizable URL-based exceptions.

Building your own dark mode for a website can be exceedingly simple. At the most basic, you need only set an !important CSS rule to change the background color to dark and the text color to light:

* {
background-color:#222 !important; 
color:#eee !important;


Night-friendly macOS goes way beyond Mojave’s built-in dark mode. If you’re staying up late, make the shift: your eyes will thank you.

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Kossi Adzo

Kossi Adzo is a technology enthusiast and digital strategist with a fervent passion for Apple products and the innovative technologies that orbit them. With a background in computer science and a decade of experience in app development and digital marketing, Kossi brings a wealth of knowledge and a unique perspective to the Apple Gazette team.

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