Gmail Dark Mode: Enable Dark Mode on iOS, Android, Desktop
Gmail Dark Mode: Enable Dark Mode on iOS, Android, Desktop

In this guide, you’ll learn how to enable Gmail dark mode.

Let’s get started.

What is Gmail dark mode?

In simple terms, the Gmail dark mode feature inverts the colors of the interface, displaying white text on a dark background:

Dark Mode on Gmail

Why do people use dark mode? A few reasons. Dark mode: 

  • Reduces glare and eye strain
  • Can improve sleep by reducing blue light exposure 
  • Saves battery power by using less energy
  • Dark mode simply looks cool! 

Dark mode is popular — 82% of smartphone users use dark mode.

Bottom line: Dark mode reduces eye strain, improves sleep, and acts as a battery saver. Plus, it looks pretty cool. 😎

How to enable Gmail dark mode

Enable Gmail Dark Mode on Desktop: 

To enable dark mode, head to Gmail on your web browser.

At the top right, click Settings (gear icon) > “See all settings”:  

Enable Dark Mode on Gmail Web

Navigate to “Themes”. Click “Set theme”:

Gmail Dark Theme

In the theme window, select Dark theme:

Enable Dark Mode on Gmail Desktop

Click Save. Head back to Gmail: 

Gmail Dark Mode

Voila! You’ve now enabled dark mode on Gmail.

Sidenote: You’ll quickly realize this isn’t true dark mode. All emails and settings are still in their default background. Even the Gmail compose tab hasn’t changed:

Dark Mode on Gmail Desktop

Gmail dark mode looks excellent when you’re not reading emails. But when you are, the inconsistent interface and high contrast between light and dark can make for a jarring experience.

More on this later.

Enable Gmail Dark Mode on Mobile:  

1. How to Enable Dark Mode on Android: 

Android users are in luck. Dark mode is a system-level setting on most Google apps and services running Android.

Caveat: Your mobile device must be on Android Q (or later) to enable dark mode.

Enabling dark mode on Gmail for Android is simple.

Open the Gmail app on your Android device: 

Gmail App on Android

On the top-left corner of the screen, tap the menu icon (three horizontal lines). 

Scroll down and tap “Settings”:

Gmail for Android

Select your Gmail account. In General settings, tap “Theme”:

Pick the Dark theme. Head back to your inbox:

Dark Mode on Gmail for Android

Your Gmail app on Android is now running dark mode!

2. How to Enable Dark Mode on iPhone (and iPad): 

A few years ago, Google launched dark mode for Gmail, Google Calendar, etc, on iOS. This server-side rollout hasn’t reached every iOS device yet.

If you go to your iPhone Gmail app settings, you might not see an option to toggle dark mode:

Gmail iOS Settings

Luckily, you still have Apple dark mode

This system-wide setting applies dark mode across the entire OS (plus third-party apps). You can also schedule dark mode to turn on (or off) iOS and MacOS! 

Here’s how to enable Gmail dark mode on iPhone:

Head to settings on your iOS device:

iPhone Settings

Scroll down to “Display & Brightness”. Pick the Dark mode option:  

Gmail Dark Mode iOS

Head back to Gmail. Dark mode is now enabled: 

Dark Mode on Gmail for iPhone

Repeat the same steps to enable dark mode on your iPad.

Sidenote: Since Gmail is a web email client, this won’t work on MacOS. 

Gmail Dark Mode on MacOS

You’ll have to switch to the dark theme on Gmail manually. Or, download a Gmail client on your Mac.

Optional Reading: 7 best Gmail alternatives

Disadvantages of Gmail dark mode

We love dark mode. But not all dark themes are created equal.

Gmail’s dark mode has three main disadvantages:

1. Incomplete

Dark mode on Gmail is incomplete.

Some elements of the interface are still stuck on the default theme:

Gmail Desktop Settings

2. Jarring

Gmail dark mode simply inverts colors, which increases eyestrain and makes it harder to read in low light. It’s the opposite of what dark mode intended.

The inconsistency in Gmail’s dark mode makes this worse. For example, any new message still has a white background: 

Gmail Dark Mode on Desktop

The result: a jarring viewing experience.

Pure white text against a pure black background produces the most contrast possible. Which is why dark modes that invert colors cause eye fatigue and halation.

Optional Reading: How to design delightful dark themes.

3. Inconsistent

Unlike Apple, Google still hasn’t delivered a consistent dark mode experience across its ecosystem. 

There’s no built-in dark mode on most Google products. Either an app or service has a dark mode (or it doesn’t). Plus, you can’t toggle dark mode on/off unless you’re on Android.

Meaning: You’ll likely use both dark and light modes on different Google products. Across different devices. At the same time. 🤯

Currently, Google Search offers the most polished dark mode experience: 

Google Dark Mode

But we can’t say the same for other Google products.

How dark mode was meant to be: Superhuman Carbon

Superhuman offers a sleek, elegant, and beautiful dark mode called Carbon.

Instead of simply inverting colors, we designed dark mode from five shades of gray. Nearer surfaces use lighter grays; distant surfaces use darker grays.

The result: Carbon is beautiful; it reduces eye strain, helps you focus, and performs incredibly well in low-light conditions:  

Superhuman Carbon

Whether you’re replying to emails or checking your calendar – Superhuman Carbon is consistently beautiful across the board: 

Superhuman Carbon on iOS

Carbon looks stunning on all your devices. Not to mention – dark mode calendars: 

Superhuman Dark Mode

The kicker: Superhuman matches the system's default settings! As night falls, Superhuman switches from Snow to Carbon — from bright to dark:

Superhuman Dark Mode on iPhone

But Superhuman is more than a pretty email client. 

It’s the fastest email experience ever made! ⚡ With 100+ features, you can inbox zero in minutes, not hours. 

Here’s how it works: 

The best part: Superhuman supports both Google and Outlook! Which means signup takes ~5 minutes. No switching email providers.

Superhuman is the best email client for Mac. And it’s now available on Android and Windows PCs! 


Wrapping Up

You’ve now enabled dark mode on your devices! 🎉

Dark mode is one of our favorite features. It reduces eye strain, prolongs battery life, and looks fabulous! 

But as we said before, not all dark themes are created equal. Dark mode on Gmail is incomplete and jarring. Google doesn’t offer a consistent dark mode experience across its apps and services. As a result, dark mode on Gmail is hit-or-miss.

If you want to experience dark mode as it was meant to be– try Superhuman today.

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