How to make Gmail dark mode

14.5K views
4 min read

Dark mode is the latest trend for all things digital. Everywhere you look, it seems people are using dark mode for their operating systems and apps. It’s contagious! 

Happily, there’s also a Gmail dark mode, so you can keep your preferred theme no matter where you go. Here, we’ll show you how to turn on Gmail dark mode, use the Gmail black theme, change Gmail theme back if you don’t like it, and surface some apps you might prefer to Gmail for desktop.

Does Gmail have a dark mode?

Let’s first discuss the difference between night mode and dark mode. A true ‘night mode’ turns your display dark when it’s dark outside. During the day, you’ll see a light mode; at night, it’s dark. The Mac’s macOS system has this feature for apps and the system’s appearance, but it doesn’t apply to Gmail, which is a browser based application.

Google doesn’t have a true Gmail night mode option, but does have a Gmail dark mode. The dark mode is a theme you can use, and it leaves your Gmail dark all the time. There are actually a few different dark modes, but some are themed; the ‘terminal’ theme, for instance, is dark mode with a cute terminal prompt at the top left corner.

Is there a dark mode for Gmail? Yes. Night mode? Sorry, no.

How to enable Gmail dark mode on a desktop

To enable Gmail dark mode, you first have to access Gmail via your browser. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open your browser.
  2. Navigate to Gmail. (You can go to gmail.google.com, or go to Google.com and select Gmail from the top right corner of the main screen.)
  3. Log in if necessary
  4. While in Gmail, select the gear icon on the top right corner of your Gmail screen
  5. Select 'Themes' > 'View all'


    Gmail themes

  6. Scroll down until you see a black rectangle. Hovering over it will display the word ‘dark.’
  7. Select the ‘Dark’ theme


    Choose Dark theme
  8. Select ‘save’

That’s all you need to do! Your Gmail theme is now dark. The background is pitch black, and the inbox area is a lighter grey. Keep in mind the messages themselves won’t have a black or grey background. Each message will still have a white background, so the ‘dark’ theme is really only satisfying when you aren’t viewing a message.

If you want a true dark mode experience, we suggest Canary Mail. Unlike Gmail, Canary Mail is dark throughout, and native to the Mac. The app also has some handy features like a focused inbox; Canary Mail learns, over time, which emails or contacts are most important or interesting to you, and surfaces them at the top of your inbox so you don’t lose them in the mix.

Gmail dark mode

Canary Mail is also far more secure than Gmail, using an end-to-end encryption by default. Gmail’s encryption is actually really weak, only working if both parties use its proprietary encryption method.

Another email app we really enjoy is Unibox. Its main feature is grouping of emails by contact. Rather than an inbox full of messages you have to wade through, Unibox arranges all of your emails by sender. This allows you to focus on people rather than emails; it’s a lot like using a messaging service like iMessage, except it’s email. Unibox Gmail client

All emails from a person are shown in a thread, so you can reference a former chat as necessary.

And yes, both apps work with Gmail. No worries there!

Gmail dark mode for iOS

Gmail is a popular email client for iOS, and only recently added the ability to use dark mode. Apple made dark mode available to developers over a year ago! What’s taken Google so long is anyone’s guess.

And don’t be surprised if you don’t see the option for dark mode in Gmail for iOS. The rollout just completed, and it’s a toggle on the server side. It may not have reached your device yet – or you may need to update your iPhone.

Here’s how to toggle dark mode for Gmail on iOS:

  1. Launch the Gmail app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap the menu icon at the top left corner of the screen.
  3. Scroll down until you see ‘settings,’ and select it
  4. Select ‘theme’
  5. Select ‘dark’

Use Gmail dark mode on Android

Naturally, you can use Gmail for Android as well. Here’s how:

  1. Launch the Gmail app on your Android device.
  2. Tap the menu icon (three lines) at the top left corner of the screen.
  3. Scroll down until you see ‘settings,’ and select it
  4. Select ‘theme’
  5. Select ‘dark’

Like many others, we’re big fans of dark mode. It’s easier on the eyes, and reduces how much battery power is used on the iPhone since the screen doesn’t need to light up black pixels on modern devices with OLED screens.

Unfortunately, not all things are dark themed, and switching back and forth, or seeing things not in dark mode, can be jarring. This is why we’re not fans of Gmail’s theme; messages still carry a white background, so it really only enhances the contrast!

It’s also why we prefer Canary Mail for dark mode enthusiasts. It works with your Gmail email address, and has an actual dark mode that carries across the entire app. It’s truly a pleasure to look at every day.

Both Canary Mail and Unibox are available free, too! Both are available as part of a free seven day trial of Setapp, the world’s best productivity suite for your Mac. In addition to these two apps, you’ll gain immediate and unlimited access to dozens of other apps available in the Setapp catalog.

When your free trial is over, unlimited access is only $9.99 per month. You can get a 10 percent discount ($8.99 per month) if you prepay for a full year! Families will enjoy Setapp’s $19.99 per month plan, which grants unlimited access to its full catalog on up to four Macs. 

Give Setapp a try today!

Get 200+ Mac apps for any job

Sign up to Setapp and try them for free.