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The Dark Side: The Benefits of Computer Screen Dark Mode

Ever been hit in the face with the harsh glare of your screens late at night?

Most of us are familiar with the night mode available on most GPS apps and devices. When you’re driving along and day becomes night, the colors on the screen invert, allowing for a less blinding experience. Did you know that you can experience this sensation all of the time with most computer systems?

What is dark mode?

It shouldn’t be any surprise that extended periods of staring into a computer screen can result in eye strain and fatigue. Though some of the strain can be associated with text size and the level of irritating blue light, for some, the brightness of the average computer experience itself can exacerbate tired eyes.

Dark mode, also known as “night mode" on a computer screen, is a viewing setting that inverts or lowers the colors of non-photographic sections of your display. The result is a reading and writing space that closely resembles that of a computer’s command terminal. Dark mode doesn't so much turn your computer screen black and white as much as it makes the colors more tolerable to eyes under low-light conditions.

What are the benefits of using dark mode?

Dark modes are great for darker workspaces.

Some people prefer working on a computer in the dark or at night. Some don’t have the option of a well-lit space when trying to catch up on some emails while the family is sleeping. However, using a computer in the dark can result in high screen contrast that can be hard on the eyes. During times like these, computer screen dark mode is downright necessary. While there are plenty of "day walkers" using this setting, dark mode or night mode benefits night owls more than anyone.

Dark mode reduces blue light.

Why would it be handy to know how to reduce blue light on a PC, Mac, or mobile device?

While you may not know it, blue light (present in digital screens, sunlight, etc.) affects the circadian rhythms of your brain.  These rhythms dictate the chemicals that allow you to get to sleep easier or when you should be more alert. However, few of us know how to turn off or reduce the blue light on computer screen modules manually. Dark modes or dark screen backgrounds decrease the amount of blue light you receive from your device and computer screens so that your eyes aren’t as strained and so you can more easily turn off the workday to get to sleep faster.

Though there's no best color for eyes for computer screens, reducing blue light when possible can help preserve natural circadian rhythms. 

Dark modes offer greater contrast for essential documents.

As helpful as some of our editing systems can be when editing documents, certain corrective items can slip past us on white screens. Due to the greater contrast of these symbols against a dark background, they are much more apparent.

Dark modes decrease eye fatigue.

You may be wondering, "is dark mode better for your eyes?" Well, yes...and no.

According to computer scientist Silas S. Brown from Cambridge University, dark mode screens can limit eye fatigue, video glare, flicker issues, and photophobia. While this is true, the optimal reading conditions for dark mode are not the greatest times to be reading in the first time. Low light conditions, regardless of light or dark mode, can lead to result in eye strain.

Using dark modes uses less energy.

While the decrease in energy may not as widely felt when using a computer in the dark that is always plugged in, dark modes may help laptops and other devices extend the lives of batteries. More energy is necessary to show brighter colors, making dark backgrounds an area of possible savings.

How To Switch Your Computer to Dark Mode

Setting Dark Mode on Mac Computers

If your MacOS is Mojave or later, a computer-wide dark mode setting comes standard.

  • Open System Preferences app in your dock. Another easy way to do this is to click the magnifying glass search icon in the upper right-hand corner.
  • Click General.
  • At the top, next to appearance, you’ll see an option for “Light” or “Dark.” Simply choose “Dark.”

How To Switch To Dark Mode on a Windows 10 Computer

Before you begin, you should realize that knowing how to invert colors on a computer is not the same as dark mode. If you would like to switch to dark mode, proceed to the following steps:

  • Access the Personalization menu in your system settings or right-click your desktop just as you would reset your desktop wallpaper background.
  • On the sidebar, click “Colors”
  • In “App Mode”, click on the “Dark” option to turn on Dark Mode.

How to Switch Just Your Internet Browser Into Dark Mode

You may not want dark mode across every part of your computer. If you only want dark mode for your Chrome browser, including Google Drive and Docs or web-based Dropbox, you need to install a Chrome Browser extension. A recommended one if called Dark Reader. Simply click here to access Dark Reader and install it for use if you are using a Chrome browser.

How To Run Dark Mode On Your iPhone

  • Open your Settings App
  • Access “General”
  • Open “Accessibility”
  • Open “Display Accommodations” and select “Invert Colors”
  • Turn on “Smart Invert”

How to Run Dark Mode on Your Android Device

Unfortunately, there is no system-wide Dark Mode option at the time this piece was published. While certain Samsung phones may have one, we will wait for an Android-wide option before providing instructions. In the meantime, there are a few applications that allow you to apply Dark Mode to select applications.

Dark Mode: Not For Everyone

Dark mode certainly isn’t meant to be the best option for everyone — otherwise, it would be the standard. However, experimenting with Dark Mode on your devices just may yield a more pleasant computer use experience and a better all-around workday.

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