How to Enable Dark Mode in Chrome OS
Dark mode has been one of the most requested features among Chromebook users for a long time, and it seems like Chrome OS is finally receiving it. Back in October 2020, Android Police reported an addition of a new flag in the Chrome OS Canary channel, which confirmed Google is putting some effort into developing a system-wide dark theme for Chromebooks.
Later in March 2021, users spotted a new dark mode toggle in Developer settings of the Chrome OS 89 Beta channel, which also introduced Android 11 on Chromebooks and various under-the-hood changes. Though it’s still not clear whether Google plans to roll out dark mode to the stable Chrome OS build yet.
If you happen to have a Chromebook or a Chromebox running the latest Beta build of the operating system, read on to get an early look at the dark mode in Chrome OS.
Steps to turn on Chrome OS Dark Mode
To enable dark mode in Chrome OS, you will first need to change your Chrome OS channel to the Beta channel. Those who are running the Stable build can follow the below instructions to do so:
- First, log in to your Google Account on your Chromebook or Chromebox.
- Once you are on the desktop, click or tap the cogwheel icon in the System Tray to launch the Settings app.
- Next, click or tap the three-lined burger icon on the top-left corner of the Settings menu, followed by selecting About Chrome OS at the bottom of the left pane.
- Click or tap Additional details to expand the options on the following page.
- Now click or tap the Change channel button, which is right next to the “Channel” option.
- After that, choose Beta from the list, then click or tap the Change channel option again.
- Upon completing the steps, your Chrome OS device will begin downloading an update. Make sure to restart the device once it asks you to do so.
Now that your Chromebook or Chromebox is running the latest Chrome OS 89 Beta build, all you have left to do is go to the Settings > Developer Settings menu and click the toggle switch next to the Dark Theme option. Note that you won’t need to restart your device to apply the changes.
How does it look?
You will immediately notice the differences with the dark theme applied in Chrome OS, including the Chrome browser and Android apps. The white background is replaced with a near-black color that looks consistent with the rest of the Chrome OS interface.
The Android settings menu and wallpaper picker also look quite polished, sporting a suitably dark title bar and a teal accent color. Furthermore, the theme is applied to notifications as well, except those that offer quick action options. It’s worth mentioning that some of the UI elements are yet to get the fresh coat of paint. The system-wide dark theme also doesn’t apply across Android apps consistently, which is evident given that the feature is still under development.
Why dark mode on Chrome OS is so important
The thing is– Both Microsoft and Apple implemented a system-wide dark theme on their respective operating systems, Windows 10 and macOS, quite a while ago. Google introduced the feature with Android 10, but Chrome OS was left out due to various issues.
You see, Google previously attempted to bring system-wide dark mode on Chrome OS, and some of you might remember the whole fiasco surrounding the flag that the company added in Chrome 78. For those who don’t know, the #force-dark-mode Chrome flag forces web content to use a dark theme across all platforms. Though it did work flawlessly on Android, Windows, and macOS, enabling the flag on Chrome OS caused webpages to crash.
Not only that, but it also caused the Chrome OS settings page and file manager not to load, meaning that users couldn’t change the flag to default and access their important files. Whoever enabled the flag had to powerwash their Chrome OS devices to get everything back in order. However, the data stored on the devices was gone forever as powerwashing erases all files. Knowing how much damage it caused, Google immediately removed the flag with a hotfix, going back to the drawing board.
It’s been a while since that happened, and it seems like the company is confident enough to give Chrome OS users the option to test the system-wide dark theme once again. It has always been a popular feature request among the community because of its usability benefits, and seeing it in action does make a substantial difference.
While a light theme is generally considered to offer better readability and focus during the day, the dark theme’s lower luminance helps minimize eye strain when looking at the screen for extended periods in low-light environments. This is a big reason why programmers and researchers prefer to use dark themes. Most streaming apps (e.g., Netflix, HBO Max, Peacock) also use dark interfaces so that viewers can comfortably scroll through the library and pick up content to watch in a dimly lit room.
Now that Chrome OS is finally getting a system-wide dark theme, users won’t have to deal with eye strains anymore, especially those who work for prolonged periods at night. It will certainly change the way we work on our Chromebooks.
This guide has shown you the way to enable dark mode in Chrome OS. Bear in mind that the feature is still a work in progress, so it will take a while before you find it in a Stable Chrome OS build.
For now, you can opt-in to the latest Beta channel of the operating system to get an early look at the system-wide dark theme, be it for reducing eye strain or simply cosmetic preferences.
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