So, you want to get dark mode on your Chromebook.
Well, let me be blunt: You can’t.
At least, not yet.
This is a feature that Google has been working on for a long time now. And it’s still not officially supported yet on Chrome OS.
It’s planned for a future release, but who wants to wait?
Here are some ways you can use to get a workaround solution for enabling dark mode on your Chromebook.
(At least until the official release rolls out.)
Sound good? Let’s go dark!
Last updated: 1/11/21. This article has been checked for accuracy and updated accordingly to Chrome OS changes.
What’s dark mode?
Dark mode. Night mode. Whatever you want to call it, it’s the preferred theme that many of the cool kids use.
It’s basically a setting where it inverts the bright colors of your web pages to their respective “darker” colors.
In other words, rather than having a ton of whitespace everywhere, it’s either black or dark grey.
As of January 2021, this feature is STILL in experimental testing. You can use the Chrome OS flags and enable dark mode to try it out.
Expect bugs, glitches, and other funky UI problems- it is still in testing.
But if you want to try it out, here’s how:
- Launch Chrome
- Type in “chrome://flags” in the address bar and hit Enter.
- Hit “CTRL + F” and search for “dark”
- Find the flag “#enable-force-dark” and turn it on for Chrome OS (your menus, navigation, and buttons will be dark mode.
- Do the same for “#enable-webui-dark-mode” to turn it on for the Chrome Browser also.
- Close the tab.
You’re done! Enjoy your new UI.
Why would you want to do this?
Well, it’s a lot easier on the eyes for starters.
If you browse your Chromebook at night, the bright screen from websites that use a lot of bright colors and backgrounds can strain your eyes.
Having a ton of white, empty space seems to be the modern “trend” in web design. Unfortunately, this is a pain to deal with on the eyes and can easily cause eye strain (at least for me).
And when you’re browsing in the dark, it’s twice as bad.
Thus, getting “dark mode” allows you to change all those brighter colors and backgrounds to a darker color.
This way, it’s a lot easier on the eyes and you can even browse in the dark without having to squint your eyes. I’m pretty sure you know how it feels to be reading some text on a nice, dark background only to click on a link that brings you to a page with a bright white background.
All while in the dark!
This is pretty much the whole point of dark mode in a nutshell.
At first I hated it, but after using it for a while, it’s very easy to get used to. And you notice the reduce eyestrain within days.
Although it’s not as good at Flux, Chrome OS’s built-in dark mode does alleviate strain for those who use their Chromebook for hours upon hours.
Many people prefer this mode
Other than being able to browse in the dark, there are people who use this mode for a variety of reasons and professions.
People use it for a variety of reasons, like:
- Programmers and developers who stare at a screen all day
- Coders who do web design
- Video or image editors
- Users who need to use their Chromebook in a dark environment
- Users who browse with the lights off
- Or just users who don’t want so much empty white space pointing at the eyes all day
Whatever the case, dark mode has become a popular solution and is preferred by a growing population of Chromebook users. Google has been working on this, but there’s nothing released yet and Chrome OS users are still left in the dark (no pun intended).
Thus, we need to use our brain and get some workaround solutions in order to enable dark mode on a Chromebook!
Use a dark theme
The first thing we can do is use a dark theme.
There are dozens of them available as a downloadable theme from the Chrome Web Store. And there are a few that make it a little easier on the eyes.
The best part about using a dark theme is that you can easily toggle it on and off at will.
For example, if you only need to turn on dark mode when you do certain tasks on your Chromebook, you can enable it accordingly.
Or if you want a “normal” theme during the day and dark theme at night, you can do so as well! That’s the best part about using a theme because they’re so easy to enable/disable.
And there are also a few themes that automatically turn to light and dark depending on the time of day.
So basically, it’ll adjust on its own without you having to go in there and change it. Is that cool or what?
Here are some of the best dark themes for Chromebooks that I’ve come across so far:
- Dark Theme for Google Chrome
- Material Simple Dark Gray
- Material Incognito Dark Theme
- Black Black Chrome Theme Dark Blue Highlight
- Morpheon Dark
- Material Dark
Use a Chrome extension
Next up, we can use a Chrome extension to accomplish this for us.
There are also quite a few of them available on the Chrome Web Store, so we want to use only the best.
Thankfully, I’ve already done the legwork for you and played around with about 6-7 of them within the past month.
Some were nice, but the colors didn’t render correctly and just made it annoying to read. Others didn’t even work and were pure garbage.
Here are a few extensions that are worth checking out.
Dark Reader is probably the most popular one out of all the extensions I’ve tried (so far).
This extension works across the vast majority of websites and renders the colors correctly to protect your eyes. It’ll actually create dark themes for all sites as you visit them by inverting the bright colors to darker colors.
There is a slight performance degradation because it needs to convert every site in real time, but that’s expected.
Other than that, I have no complaints. If Google updates Chrome OS to work the same way as this extension does, then we’ll be in business.
It also has a bunch of options you can play around with like contrast, brightness settings, sepia filter, whitelist, and even font settings.
Dark Reader also doesn’t collect your personal data, which is nice.
You can check out Dark Reader here.
Dark theme for any website
This extension is completely free to use and basically does what’s on the tin.
Some sites didn’t render the best they could be (ugly shades), but that’s expected with software that converts colors in real time. It’s also noticeably faster than some of the other extensions on this list.
The best part is that you can set up some sites to be dark and others to be light using the built-in settings.
You also have basic grayscale, sepia, brightness (or lightness), and basic contrast options.
Super Dark Mode
Super Dark Mode allows you to use automatic dark mode and even a global CSS for those who know how to use it.
Basically, it’s a stylesheet that you can apply to all sites so they all look the same, rather than different shades for different sites.
The automatic setting works. You can set it to turn on dark mode or turn off dark mode by itself.
There’s also a whitelist that lets you choose which sites you want to apply the extension to with some basic customization.
Note that this extension can’t “darken” two specific sites:
- New tab pages
- Chrome Web Store
Everything else can be darkened. But this is an easy fix.
You can install a new tab page customizer for Chrome and just pick one that lets you choose a dark theme.
This way, you don’t need to see a white screen every time you launch a new tab.
Go dark here.
Night Eye – Dark mode on any website
Night Eye allows you to browse a few sites for free, then they make you pay to use their extension.
Is it worth the cash? I don’t know. I haven’t tried it. But from the free version, it looks pretty decent.
You can use 3 different modes: Dark, Filtered, or Normal.
- Dark allows you to shift all colors to their darker shades so it’s easier on your eyes.
- Filtered keeps the sites colors, but allows you to change stuff such as brightness, contrast, color warmth, and other settings.
- Normal is basically just turning the extension off- you see pages rendered as expected.
The Filtered mode doesn’t really do much that you can’t replicate with other extensions. It’s basically just dark mode with Night Light enabled.
You can kind of simulate this by getting a free dark mode extension and pairing it with Night Light on Chrome OS (more on this later).
What’s cool though is that it does have a blue light filter built-in, so it actually eliminates the need to have a Night Light on.
There’s also a “Dim” mode which dims the light as you need when you’re working in dark rooms or dimly lit environments.
There’s also an image converter which converts only the small pictures on a site to give you a “smoother” experience.
Get your night eyes.
Dark Night Mode
Dark Night Mode applies the dark theme to all the sites you visit in real time.
Nothing really different from the other extensions. However, this particular extension doesn’t invert colors, which means that black backgrounds won’t change to white.
That’d be doing the opposite of what you expect, right?
The images also won’t be distorted in this case because there’s no color inversion.
There’s also an automatic mode, whitelist, brightness sliders, and various other adjustments you can make.
Overall, this is worth checking out if you’re having problems with color inversion or pictures not showing up correctly.
Are you a Dark Night?
Night Shift does exactly what the Night Light feature does. It shifts your lighting towards the warmer colors after nighttime.
Although this isn’t exactly dark mode, using warmer colors will definitely help alleviate some eye strain at night.
You can use this extension or the built-in one (covered later). You can set up a custom schedule, use a predefined scheduled, or turn it off.
Is blue light really bad for your eyes?
Yes. And not just your eyes.
Blue light has been shown to possible cause:
- Digital eye fatigue
- Eye strain
- Sleep disturbance
- Hormone suppression
- Melatonin suppression
- Circadian rhythm shifting
Some of them allow you to control when you want to enable dark mode and when you want to disable the option.
This is cool because it gets rid of the need to turn on dark mode band then turn it off. You can set time settings so it does everything automatically.
This will definitely help out people looking for a hybrid solution- using day mode during the day, and then night mode during the night.
Of course, if you want it enabled all the time, then you can just grab a basic extension for your Chromebook that enables dark mode and keeps it like that.
The thing to keep in mind with many of these extensions is that they’re not perfect.
Because each web page is different, sometimes they render the colors incorrectly and just make it a pain to read for your eyes.
You may have to toggle the extension on/off for specific websites. Until google build this into Chrome OS so it handles it automatically, this is just something we’ll have to deal with right now.
I believe some of these extensions allow you to add pages to a whitelist to avoid inverting the colors for.
This is good for those few sites where the colors don’t change correctly and may save your eyes from a scare. Most pages work well, but again, they’re not perfect solutions! But it’s what we’ve got for now!
Shift to night here.
Turn down your brightness
This is probably obvious enough.
If you’re using your Chromebook in the dark, you’ll want to dim the screen and turn down your brightness. If you’re not using dark mode, lowering the brightness on your device is critical to save your eyes from damage and eye strain
Just use the brightness controls on your keyboard and turn it as low as you possibly can while not having to strain your eyes to read text.
However, if you’re using a dark theme or dark mode extension, you may want to keep brightness up. It could get too dim if you lower the brightness while your screen is already dark! Just use common sense and protect your eyes.
Do what’s comfortable.
Enable Night Light
Night Light is the feature recently added to Chrome OS which reduces the blue light from your Chromebook’s screen.
This isn’t the same as dark mode, as it doesn’t really change the bright colors to dimmer ones or anything.
But it does reduce the overall brightness of your screen, which may help with eye strain.
Blue light is produced by pretty much all electronic devices (at least modern-day ones). This kind of light has been proven to keep you awake at night.
Not only that, blue light can also cause eyestrain, disturb sleep, and a whole slew of other maladies you probably don’t want to deal with.
This is why it’s bad to use your phone, laptop, or computer before sleeping.
And that’s likely why pretty much all the modern gadgets have a blue light filter:
- iOS/Mac have “Night Shift”
- Chrome OS has “Night Light”
- Android has “Night Mode”
- Windows has “Night light”
They all do the same thing.
They basically emit warmer colors and reduce blue light at night. This helps keep your circadian rhythm in check.
Your Chromebook has this feature also. This may help if you have a huge Chromebook screen as it just may reduce some eye fatigue.
You can enable it like this:
- Sign in to your Chromebook if you haven’t already.
- Launch Chrome Browser.
- Type “chrome://settings” in the address bar and hit Enter.
- Look for “Displays.”
- Look for “Night Light.”
- Toggle the feature to ON.
- Adjust the slider to make the color temperature warmer or cooler (warmer = orange, cooler = blue).
- Set a schedule for your Chromebook to automatically enable/disable Night Light.
Congrats. That’s it!
What does Night Light do exactly?
You’ve now turned on Night Light for Chrome OS.
You should see your screen changing colors right before your eyes! If you don’t, make sure you’re within the setting schedule time you just set.
You can also set a custom setting for when you want your machine to automatically turn on and off.
Play around with the settings to get a screen that’s not too bright, but not too dim. Dim lighting can also hurt your eyes just like bright lighting. Toggle the slider and see what feels comfortable.
Note that this will take time to get used to. At first, try just dimming the settings just a little bit.
Then do more and more each day until you can get a comfortable orange glow at night. The point of the future would be to use it before sleep.
You want it as warm as possible to minimize blue light to your eyes so it doesn’t disturb your sleep patterns.
Basically all it does is just makes your screen “dimmer” and “warmer” in color
This means you’ll see more orangish colors rather than the electric blue.
If you’ve ever used something like F.lux before, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. If not, try it out and see how you like it! It really does help keep your eyes safe at night.
I personally use F.lux on my PC, but not Night Light on my Chromebook since I rarely use it at night.
But I can attest for the whole “does night light really work?” ordeal. It does.
Try the Beta channel
The last option to get your hands on the official dark mode for Chrome OS would be to switch to the Beta channel.
This will let you access the feature as soon as it’s released for Beta.
Then, you can test it out without having to wait for a stable, public release.
You can switch over to Chrome OS Beta like this:
- Launch Chrome Browser.
- Type in “chrome://about” in the address bar and hit Enter.
- Click on “Detailed build information.”
- Click on “Channel.”
- Click on “Change channel.”
- Select the “Beta” channel and confirm your settings.
Your Chromebook will then have to reboot and you’ll be in the Beta Channel afterwards. This means you’ll have access to all experimental, beta features.
This also means that as soon as dark mode hits official Chrome OS, you’ll be one of the first to try it out!
You can even submit your feedback to Google.
Wait for the official release
The final option is to just wait for Google to push out the official release on Chromebooks. This has been speculated for a long time now and should be added to Chrome OS any day now.
A planned version for Chrome 76 has been rumored. But some reports state that they’re currently using Chrome 76 Beta and have yet to see anything.
And now htat Chrome 76 has been officially released into Stable channel, we’ve yet to still see anything.
Hopefully it’ll roll out sooner than later.
The first report for dark mode was reported a long time ago.
Some users are upset that Google has released it on other platforms (Windows), but not on their own Chrome OS yet. Of course, this rustles a lot of Chromebook users.
But that only means that we’re due for an update which will finally get us dark mode on Chrome OS soon.
Come on Google- we’re hungry for some of that night mode!
I’ll update this guide as soon the release is official.
Did you get “dark mode” on your Chromebook?
That’s about it!
In the meantime while we wait for the update on Chrome OS, these workaround solutions just may do the trick for you.
I hope you found a working extension or theme that works. And be sure to play around with the Chrome OS Night Light also.
Even though it’s not exactly dark mode, it should help reduce your eye fatigue at night.
If you have any other awesome extensions or themes to suggest, leave a comment!
And if you found this tutorial to be helpful, let me know as well!
Consider sending this to a friend who may also get some value out of it =]!
Thanks for reading!