Chrome 78 Gives You True Dark Mode Everywhere

AH Chrome Beta dark mode 2

Previously-reported flags that bring a web-wide dark mode to Chrome across every platform can now be enabled in the Canary Channel, TechDows reports, and the feature may arrive as early as Stable version 78.

That means it no longer just appears as a flag in the Chromium code repository as noted in previous reports. Dark mode can be activated and used now, as long as the user is in the Canary version of Chrome.

The changes are part of Chrome Canary 78, indicating that the final version of the new feature could appear as early as that version of the browser.


To access dark mode without waiting for Chrome 78

The new dark mode is easy enough to enable for users aren’t trying to enable it on a Chromebook. Chrome OS Canary requires a significant amount of work to attain, so users will want to wait for this to hit beta or developer channels first. For everybody else, the first step is to download and install Chrome Canary on Windows, macOS, iOS, or Android.

Those who have already been using Chrome Canary will want to make sure they’ve updated to the latest build.


The next step is to navigate to the experimental ‘flags’ setting menu. To get there, users must enter “chrome://flags” into the URL Omnibox and hit enter. At the top of the resulting page, entering “force dark mode for web contents” will bring up the appropriate setting.

Using the drop-down box next to that setting, users need to select “Enabled” from the available options. Selecting “Relaunch” when that button appears along the bottom of the browser window. Multiple relaunches may be required but, generally speaking, aren’t needed.

After relaunching, websites displayed in Chrome will take on a dark mode aesthetic.


How is this different?

As previously reported, the new dark mode takes a significant step forward for Chrome users that goes well beyond a typical UI overlay change. Dark mode for that part of the browser has already been around for quite some time. This isn’t that. That applied only to Chrome’s menus, tab interface, Omnibox, and bookmark bar.

This changes the content of the web pages themselves, circumventing the need for web developers to include one for Chrome users. More succinctly, it reverts white space and light colors to black and darker hues. Text and other elements that would ordinarily take on a darker tone are lightened for easy reading.


On top of changing exactly where the dark mode is seen by users, the changes alter exactly how the browser makes dark mode appear. There are five dark mode methods in the flags aside from the standard “Default,” “Disabled,” and “Enabled” options.

The first of the new options is the same method that’s already been in use in Chrome for some time, dubbed “simple HSL-based inversion.” In effect, that adds a ‘lightness’ value to the equation. Without that value, alterations are solely based on RGB color values.

What’s left from there are options based on a more accurate CIELAB inversion. Those are applicable in options labeled “simple” or selectively for images, non-images, or everything.


There’s no clear indication of exactly which method is in use when “Enabled” is selected but that’s probably a combination of the HSL and CIELAB choices. The remaining options are most likely available chiefly for web developers to conduct testing. It’s also unclear how the option will be presented to users in its final form in Chrome.