A True Dark Mode for Microsoft Word

Some users consider dark mode a fad. Because of my deteriorating eyesight, I don’t have such a luxury: I can’t read dark text on bright/light colored background, be it on screen or on paper.

Before dark mode was a thing, I was using a high contrast accessibility theme—which is great but also way too radical for my specific needs. Dark mode has given me the best of both worlds: a more or less ‘normal’ looking setup, only with bigger fonts, less eye candy and, well, darker colors.

So, how does Microsoft Word deal with dark mode? Very well, as long as you do not limit yourself to what the majority of guides will suggest you do, that is to use Office 365 dark mode. There is more to it, as you will see.

Illustration: the left of the screen shows Word using its dark mode plus the Immersive Reader: the text is white on a black backround, with an image that is unchanged. There is no page break or margins, the document almost feels like a basic text editor save that it shows an image too. The other half of the screen shows the wallpaper: a night view of a desert scene with many stars.
Microsoft Word in all its dark glory, once fully configured.

But let’s start with the obvious: activating Office’s dark mode.

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A Surface Book with a Matte Screen?

I’ve never been a fan of glossy screens. I have been cursing at Apple the day the introduced glossy screens on their iMac lineup, and then on their MacBook Pro line too. Because what Apple does will eventually—and have since then been—copied by the rest of the industry.

So we now have amazingly color-accurate screens that are also mirror like and riddled with distracting light reflections. Everywhere.

Of course, this is a totally subjective opinion. Glossy screens are not worse or better per se. But I can’t stand them, as it makes seeing what’s on screen much more difficult for me, with my already bad eyesight. And what’s making things worse is that we almost have no choice anymore: it’s glossy or nothing. Even more so when you’re looking for non 16:9 laptops.

In that regard, the Surface Book 2’s screen is very reflective, much more than, say, my 15” retina MacBook Pro was. Since I’ve started using the Surface, it has been a constant problem for me. So I did the same thing I did with my glossy MacBook Pro, I put a matte screen protector that, once again, did its magic.

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Invert colors in a video

Since 2010 or so, most if not all the Collège de France lectures are freely available as video recordings. It’s an amazing resource that can be watched online, or downloaded for a more comfortable experience—if you’re on Paris the entry to any lecture is free too, btw.

Alas if, like me, you can’t read black text on a light background it can be a pain to read the many slides in their videos.

Excerpt from Jean-Luc Fournet’s lecture « Le calame et la croix : la christianisation de l’écrit et le sort de la culture classique dans l’Antiquité tardive »

I could easily invert all colours on screen (making white black, and black white) using Windows (or macOS) accessibility tools, but that’d screw up my own Dark mode setup that’s working great for me 99% of the time, and I don’t want that. I just want to invert the video itself.

Here is a neat little trick that works well with a video player called Scorpio Player for Windows (it’s not free but it’s very often on sale on the Microsoft Store, @ $2.99):

In Scorpio Player, right-click the video and go to Graphic -> Effect Manager.

Check Invert and, bam, the video is now inverted.

Not that great for our poor lecturer, but so much better to read its slides 😉