Dark Mode on iOS: DIY Details

With a few Accessibility twiddles, you can have system-wide dark mode on iOS today. There’s no need to wait for iOS 11 or 12 or whenever.

Dark Mode must be one of the most common feature requests for iOS. Open Radar is littered with requests such as this, this, and this which cites an original bug number of 15453121. The first request for system-wide Dark Mode must have originated between November 2013 and March 2014, based on my own bug report numbers.

I expect that most folks would like a Control Center toggle for a system-wide dark mode, rather like the toggle for Do Not Disturb. Only Apple can help with that.

Set Up DIY Dark Mode

Do the following to enable “do it yourself” / DIY Dark Mode:

  1. Tap Settings -> General -> Accessibility
  2. Tap Display Accommodations
  3. Tap Invert Colors
  4. Tap Color Filters -> On

If you’ve played with the color filters for color blindness or tint, then you’ll also need to tap Grayscale in step 4. Once you’ve selected Grayscale, it will remain the selected filter in the future.

Display Accommodations for Dark ModeColor Filters for Dark Mode

Sure, it’s a fair bit of tapping, but if you want to use your iPhone in bed without subjecting your bedroom to a bright glow, it’ll do the job.

Let’s hope Apple addresses bug 15453121 in a future update to iOS. In the meantime, with a bit of tap patience, you can have what you need.

(In writing this, I learned that display accommodations are not applied to screen shots, as you can see above.)

UPDATE: Reader Mark Igloliorte (@markiglo) notes that you can set your Accessibility Shortcut so that triple tapping the home button makes it easier to engage DIY Dark Mode. To do that:

  1. Follow the instructions above to enable DIY Dark Mode
  2. Tap Settings -> General -> Accessibility
  3. Scroll all the way down to Accessibility Shortcut and tap it
  4. Check both Invert Colors and Color Filters

Now, when you triple tap the home button, you’ll be able to tap Invert Colors or Color Filters. You’ll have to repeat the process a second time to enable / disable the other item.