My Must Have Dark Mode Friendly Apps

My eyesight being what it is, I’m now almost to the point where I can not read a bright screen anymore: it’s really painful on the eyes. Everything is much easier when the screen is dark. So, no surprise, I welcomed Mojave’s Dark Mode as a blessing–a perfectible one, though.

Here is the list of the apps and utilities that help me to take full advantage of this. There are many more, but those are the one I use the most.

Dark Reader

When I’m not writing or reading some books, I’ll probably be in a web browser. Safari supports Dark Mode, but it won’t change the web pages themselves, most of which are using white or light background with dark text.

Not anymore:

Dark Reader is an extension available for free for Chrome and Firefox and, as a paid extension, for Safari. It’ll dynamically adapt most pages to make them Dark Mode compatible. I won’t list all the options it offers, let’s just say there aren’t that many pages that’ll resist it (but there are).

As a free and cool alternative to Dark Reader, you can use @JiminyPan’s poor man’s night mode: it doesn’t have as many options, but both are great tools to compensate what I consider an oversight and/or a poor design choice from every single browser I tested.

Night Owl

NightOwl is the utility that Mojave should have come with.

A fast way to toggle Dark Mode on and off (button, keyboard shortcut, schedule). And the ability to select apps you want to systematically use in Light Mode.

Very useful for those apps that are still not compatible with Dark Mode (looking at you, Druide Antidote), where one need to use the Inverted colours (this was written in French, in summary: one can use an accessibility feature of macOS, called “Inverted colours”, to invert all colours on screen, making white into black on vice versa).

Ulysses

Ulysses is where I’ll do most of my writing. It fully supports dark mode:

As a side-note: I recently decided to use Ulysses for journaling too, replacing my long-term app of choice: DayOne. Not because of its lack of support of Dark Mode, DayOne is truly excellent in that regard, but because of DayOne’s limited export capabilities–another point where Ulysses shines, imo.

PDF Expert

I like Preview, but PDF Expert is better at least because it can display the PDF in inverted colours, aka “Night Theme”:

Multiple PDF opened in tabs and displayed in inverted colours.

Note that the app is regularly on sale, so be patient if you want to get it at a better price.

HazeOver

HazeOver will display an overlay over all background windows, letting only the top window untouched. One could chose its colour (surprise: I use black). One can also easily control it’s opacity with a cool gesture, or define apps where one do not want to have an overlay at all.

So useful when writing while watching some bright vid in the background 😉

Microsoft Word

Hu, Word?” “Yep, Word.

Microsoft has updated Word 365 to support Dark Mode but, exactly like Pages, running it in Dark Mode won’t change the document content: black text on blindingly white background… Or does it? 

Word displaying a document in white on a black background. It’s certainly not as finely tuned as Ulysses own darker mode, but it’s very useable nonetheless.

Also, note the absence of margins and “pages” in this new mode, Word behave almost like a standard text editor: a giant scroll of text, without border and page break: they’re still there, though, just hidden while working in this mode. Styles will be used and images displayed, though.

To get to this, one need to use a newish feature of Word called the “Learning tools”, regrouping tools created to help students with disabilities, or with learning difficulties.

Go to the View tab and click the Learning tools button. That should have stripped Word of most of its UI, and a new Learning Tools tab must be displayed in the Ribbon. You’re almost done. Click on this new tab. Among a few other options (most of them useless for us, remember to deactivate the Text Spacing and the Syllables features) one can chose between three different backgrounds, go for Page Color->Inverse. Done.

Also worth mentioning

Many of Apple own apps are worth mentioning because of their excellent support of Dark Mode:

  • Notes,
  • Books,
  • Preview (save maybe for PDF, see PDF Expert for an alternative)
  • iTunes,
  • Dictionary,
  • Mail,
  • Reminder,
  • Not forgetting the Finder.

All of these apps are working great, nothing much else to say… even if I coud not overstate the usefulness of the Dictionary app: it’s always been a great app, imo, but it is even more so since I decided to learn to write in English. But that’s a whole other story.

The same apply for some third party apps that I use all day long and that, well, just work great:

  • 1Password. Subscription is not cheap, but it works so well, wherever I need it. The app’s fully compatible with Mojave’s DarkMode (but not yet optimised for Windows own dark mode, if you’re interested). And their website is not compatible with DarkMode :/
  • Affinity Photo. It always had its own dark mode, but not fully compatible with Apple’s: some windows will remain light.
  • IINA. The latest arrival in my toolbox, it’s a great fork of VLC optimised for macOS. Try it, it’s free, and it’s really good.
  • Graphic Converter. “The Swiss army knife for image manipulation”, as they say, that I have been using since the mid-90s… Nowadays, I mostly use if for its wide support of file formats and its ability to easily add keywords in the exif metadata of pictures.
  • ChronoSync Neat app for copying or synchronising folders, and for doing some automated backups.
  • Skype. Because, no matter Apple’s wildest dreams, not everyone is using macOS or iOS 😉
  • DelightEd. If you’re looking for a fully Dark Mode compatible RTF editor, here it is, for free. Take the time to visit the dev’s blog: it’s excellent, too.
  • ImageOptim A free and easy utility to batch optimise JPEG and PNG size, before uploading them to the blog.

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