Browsing the internet late at night isn't exactly a fun experience when you've got websites flashing white backgrounds and gnashing their teeth at you. If Safari is your go-to browser on the Mac, then I'm sure that is a problem. It's natural to want the Dark Mode everywhere in Safari when you are browsing.
So, you have Night Shift. But sometimes, there's nothing like dark mode to lessen the strain on your eyes. However, enabling dark mode in Safari is easier said than done. The browser does sport the ability to switch to a dark theme. But that doesn't really have an impact on the majority of websites out there.
If you want dark mode everywhere, then let's check out what you must do below. Let's start with how to enable the dark theme in Safari.
Note: The following instructions apply to Safari v13.0 running on macOS Catalina.
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Enable Dark Theme for Safari
On macOS Catalina, you have a built-in dark color scheme that renders the entire operating system along with native apps, including Safari and supported third-party programs in dark mode. I bet some of you already know how to enable it. If so, skip ahead to the next section. Otherwise, here's how to turn it on.
Step 1: Open the Apple menu, and then click System Preferences.
Step 2: Click the tile labeled General.
Step 3: Click Dark in the top-most section named Appearance. That should switch the entire operating system to a dark color scheme.
Launch Safari, and you should see the browser theme rendered in dark as well. You should also find websites that sport native a dark theme rendered automatically in the dark mode. However, only a tiny minority of sites do sport a native dark theme, which means that you still have to deal with a ton of white pixels on the screen.
That leads us to the next obvious question. How do you get dark mode in Safari everywhere?
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Enable Dark Mode for Websites in Safari
Thankfully, there are a couple of ways that you can easily use to get websites — the ones that don't sport a native dark theme — to render in dark mode. The first method involves using Reader View. The second method requires you to use an extension.
1. Use Reader View
Reader View is a built-in Safari functionality that strips ads and other unwanted elements from webpages and presents them in an easily readable format. It also lets you change the default white background color to black. Couple that with Safari's dark theme, and you've got full-fledged dark mode functionality in your hands.
But there's a catch — Reader View can't be enabled everywhere. Usually, it's limited to blog posts and articles, such as the one that you are reading right now. Regardless, let's check it out in action.
Step 1: Click the Reader View icon to the left-corner of the Safari address bar. Keep in mind that this icon will only show up on Reader View-supported web pages.
Step 2: Click the aA icon to the right corner of the Safari address bar, and then switch to the darkest background color. You only have to do that once since Safari remembers your preferences automatically.
And voila! That should render the page in complete dark mode. Perfect.
By default, you must enable Reader View manually each time you visit a webpage. If that gets tedious, you can set it to kick in automatically on supported webpages. Here's how to do that.
Step 1: Click Safari on the menu bar, and then click Preferences.
Step 2: Switch to the Websites tab, and then click Reader on the left pane.
To enable automatic Reader View for websites that are open in Safari, click the menu next to each listed website underneath the Currently Open Websites section, and select On.
To enable other websites to always switch to Reader View, click the menu next to When Visiting Other Websites, and then select On.
Exit the Preferences window. Safari will automatically switch to Reader View whenever you visit a page that supports the functionality.
2. Use Safari Extension
Dark mode with Reader View works well, but it doesn't function on all websites and webpages. It is apt if you read a lot at night, but not ideal for web browsing in general.
If you want dark mode just about everywhere, you must resort to using a Safari extension. However, almost every dark mode extension that I ran into on the Mac App Store required a fee. Sadly, this included the fantastic Dark Reader extension, which is available free of charge for Chrome and Firefox.
But eventually, I did come across an extension that didn't ask me to pay upfront — Night Eye. Here's how to install and enable it.
Step 3: Click the Extensions tab, and then check the box next to Night Eye.
And that's it. Every website, except very few such as Google Docs, that you come across should now render in dark mode.
The extension works quite well, and even sports the ability to work alongside the system color scheme, controls to adjust brightness, contrast, and saturation, etc. To access these options, click the Night Eye icon to the left of the address bar.
However, Night Eye isn't totally free. You need to pay to keep using some of the advanced features in the extension after three months. The supposed 'Lite' version that it switches to afterward limits you to using dark mode for up to five websites.
If you like the extension, you can buy it. But I don't recommend doing that. Its price is quite steep at $8.99 for a one-year subscription or $39.99 for a one-off license. Instead, Dark Reader for Safari only requires a one-time fee of $4.99. There are also multiple other dark extensions — such as Dark Mode for Safari — that you can find on the Mac App Store for just $1.99.
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Don't Lose Your Bearings
Using Safari in complete dark mode is a treat for the eyes. I wish Apple would incorporate some built-in toggle that would forcibly render sites in dark mode so that we won't have to rely on workarounds.
But for now, using Reader View or a dark mode extension is the way to go. If you plan to go the extension-route, be prepared for that ding to your wallet eventually.
Is Firefox better than Safari on the Mac? Read our comparison to figure out which is the better browser for you.