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How to switch to Gmail dark mode on desktop and mobile

How to switch to Gmail dark mode on desktop and mobile

min read

Do you ever feel like the screens in your life are just a little too bright and blinding? With Gmail dark mode, you can give your eyes a break by looking at light text on a dark background in your inbox. Not only does dark mode make it easier to read in the evening, it actually saves your eyes from excessive blue light waves. Read on to learn how to enable dark mode on your device.

<a href="#dark-mode-gmail" class="anchor-link">What is dark mode in Gmail?</a>
<a href="#enable-dark-mode-desktop" class="anchor-link">How to enable Gmail dark mode on desktop</a>
<a href="#enable-dark-mode-iphone" class="anchor-link">How to enable Gmail dark mode on iPhone</a>
<a href="#enable-dark-mode-android" class="anchor-link">How to enable dark mode on Android</a>
<a href="#benefits-of-dark-mode" class="anchor-link">What are the benefits of setting Gmail to dark mode?</a>
<a href="#downsides-of-dark-mode" class="anchor-link">Are there downsides to dark mode?</a>

  • <a href="#dark-mode-alternatives" class="anchor-link">Dark mode alternatives</a>

<a href="#give-dark-mode-try" class="anchor-link">Give dark mode in Gmail a try</a>

  • <a href="#dark-mode-gmail-faqs" class="anchor-link">Dark mode in Gmail: FAQs</a>

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What is dark mode in Gmail?

Dark mode in Gmail inverts the background and foreground colors, so the text becomes light and the background becomes dark. This works in the entire Gmail app or browser window. The sidebar menu and settings, along with standard email content, will all have this light-on-dark design. It looks like this.

A screenshot of Gmail inbox in dark mode

Gmail has dark mode built in for desktop browsers and Android phones. With iOS devices, Gmail’s theme follows the system theme of your phone. Below, we’ll show you how to enable dark mode for each type of device.

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How to enable Gmail dark mode on desktop

It’s pretty simple to use dark mode on your desktop computer within Gmail.

  1. Navigate to the Settings icon.
A screenshot of the Gmail Settings window (gear icon)
  1. Under Theme, click View All.
  2. Scroll until you see a blank black box labeled Dark, and click it.
A screenshot of the Gmail Theme options available after clicking "View All" in the Themes section to look for the dark mode theme

You now have Gmail dark mode enabled. All menu and email content in Gmail will have white text on a black or very dark gray background except for some specially-formatted email content.

Fun fact: Gmail also offers a theme called Terminal that looks similar; it’s a black box with a single green angle quotation mark. It’s basically dark mode with some old-school computer terminal lettering in the upper left of the screen. If you’re into that, check it out!

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How to enable Gmail dark mode on iPhone

On iPhones, Gmail follows your system’s dark or light mode setting.

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Go to Display & Brightness.
A screenshot of the Gmail Settings on iPhone with "Display & Brightness" encircled
  1. Choose Dark or select Automatic to switch to dark mode at night.
A screenshot of the options available under Gmail Settings' "Display & Brightness" section on iPhone

You’ll now see Gmail is in dark mode, including all menu options and email content (except images or content formatted with colors).

The only quirk about dark mode on iOS is that you can’t put Gmail in dark mode independently from the rest of your phone. You’ll see this isn’t the case for Android phones.

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How to enable dark mode on Android

In Android 10 and later, you have the option to put Gmail in dark mode on its own or have it follow your system’s light/dark mode parent setting. Here’s how to enable Gmail dark mode:

  1. Open the Gmail app and navigate to Settings.
  2. Select Theme.
A screenshot of Gmail's Settings featuring "Theme" option on Android
  1. Choose Dark (or System Default to have it follow your system setting).

A screenshot of the options available while choosing Dark mode for Gmail on Android

<div class="anchor-wrapper"><div id="benefits-of-dark-mode" class="anchor-target"></div></div>

What are the benefits of setting Gmail to dark mode?

We’re glad you asked. Here are a few perks of switching to the dark side:

  • Less blue light: White screens emit blue light, which can mess with your sleep schedule. Dark mode reduces the amount of white screen space, which reduces blue light waves.
  • It’s easier on the eyes: Blue light aside, it might feel more comfortable for you to use dark mode at night compared to a white background.
  • More discreet: You can use your phone in the evening without disturbing anyone else with a bright screen. 
  • Save energy: Newer OLED screens can save battery power with dark mode compared to light mode.

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Are there downsides to dark mode?

Dark mode isn’t the silver bullet it’s cracked up to be. Reading for a long time with a negative screen can put more strain on your eyes in some situations. You might notice afterimages of the text as you look away. The afterimages might last longer when reading in dark mode than standard. And if you leave dark mode on during the day, you might find it hard to read the text when you’re in a bright room.

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Dark mode alternatives

If your goal is to reduce eye strain and blue light at night, you can tint the screen with existing tools in your devices like:

  • Night Shift on Mac OS/iPhone: Night Shift makes the screen warmer based on your location or at any time you choose.
  • Color filters on iPhone: You can use color filters to drastically shift an iPhone screen to orange or red. You can adjust your color filters in Display & Text Size within your accessibility settings.
  • Night light on Windows: Night light tints the screen an amber hue at night or during a schedule you set.
  • Night Mode on Android: Android phones come with Night Mode as an option in the display settings. Older models might require a third-party app to tint the screen at night.

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Give dark mode in Gmail a try

If you want to give your eyes a bit of a break in the evening, check out Gmail dark mode. It’s easy to enable on any kind of device and works on most types of emails. That said, pay attention if you feel more eye strain, as dark mode isn’t always the best option. 

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Dark mode in Gmail: FAQs

We’ll leave you with these frequently asked questions and answers about setting up dark mode in Gmail. Hope you find them helpful.

How do I turn my Gmail into dark mode?

To use dark mode in Gmail on an iOS mobile device, change your phone’s main display setting to the dark theme. On an Android device or a desktop browser, navigate to the settings in Gmail and select the Dark theme.

Is there dark mode for Gmail on desktop browsers?

Yes, Gmail has a dark mode setting for desktop browsers. Simply navigate to the Theme settings and select the blank black square, which is also called Dark.

Why does my Gmail not have dark mode?

There are two reasons you might not see dark mode in your Gmail. First, Gmail doesn’t have a dark mode setting on iOS devices because it follows the device’s global light or dark setting. Second, you could have an older Android phone that doesn’t support it.

Why are emails still white in Gmail dark mode?

Older versions of Gmail for desktop browsers and mobile devices didn’t fully invert email content. However, newer versions do invert email content unless it is formatted with colors behind the text.

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