Get dark mode on macOS High Sierra with this hack

16 June 2018, 11:37

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The forthcoming macOS Mojave comes with a “dark mode” interface option. This switches the interface from being broadly white and grey, as per computing over the last 30 years, to being various shares of black and grey. It looks great—but did you know a preview of this is built into macOS High Sierra?

I’m NOT talking about the simple “Use Dark Menu and Dock” option within the “General” section of System Preferences (although if you follow the steps below then you’ll want to activate this too).

No, this is a system-wide config affecting most windows and it uses a hidden system key called “NSWindowDarkChocolate”. DarkChocolate is likely to be Apple’s internal codename for the dark mode feature.

Within High Sierra DarkChocolate is a prototype implementation and, to be blunt, it doesn’t work very well. Some interface items look wrong or are unreadable. Some apps like Calendar or third-party apps such as Microsoft Word just entirely ignore the setting and revert to their usual white mode.

But it’s fun to play around with.

Warning! Follow the steps below at your own risk! I will not be held responsible for damage arising from this. If you’re unsure, go no further!

Switching it on is pretty simple:

  1. Open a Terminal window. You’ll find Terminal in the Utilities folder of the Applications list in Finder.
  2. Paste in the following, which might appear as more than one line on your screen but is actually a single-line—just triple-click the text to highlight it, and then Cmd+C to copy it before pasting it into the Terminal window:
    defaults write -g NSWindowDarkChocolate -bool TRUE
  3. Log out via the Apple menu, and then log back in again.

Don’t forget that you’ll need to also turn on dark menu and dock within System Preference’s “General” section. Oh, and if you want the macOS Mojave “dark” desert wallpapers for the complete picture then—go right ahead!

Switching off dark mode is a matter of repeating the steps above to open Terminal, and this time pasting the following…

defaults delete -g NSWindowDarkChocolate

… And then rebooting the system (logging out doesn’t seem to turn off the feature—which again seems to indicate a buggy implementation).

(This hack appears to have been uncovered by Steve Troughton-Smith, with thanks.)

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