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Facebook dark mode: everything you need to know

How to get dark mode on desktop, and what's happening on mobile

Facebook dark mode
(Image: © Shutterstock)

After an agonizing wait, Facebook dark mode has finally rolled out for the desktop, and work on a dark mode for iPhone and Android is finally underway.

Facebook dark mode is a new look for the social network that replaces its usual bright, white interface with black and shades of gray for both desktop and mobile. It's a small change, but an important one for many users.

It's a refreshing alternative to the standard color scheme, but that's not the only reason many users are looking forward to making the switch. Some people find white text on a dark background much easier to read, and although the jury is out on whether cutting down on blue light actually helps you sleep better at night, a darker interface certainly reduces glare when you're using the app after dark.

There's a potential benefit for your phone's battery, too. Researchers from Google have found that pixel color has a direct effect on power draw, with black pixels using significantly less energy than white ones. This is particularly true for devices with AMOLED screens, where pure black pixels are actually switched off. Swapping Facebook's bright, white interface to something darker could therefore help your mobile devices last noticeably longer between chargers.

It's worth bearing in mind that the look of Facebook dark mode might change before it's rolled out worldwide, or in response to feedback afterwards. The company has made some minor adjustments to WhatsApp dark mode since its release, adjusting contrast levels, and may do the same for other apps.

With that in mind, here's how to experience the dark side of Facebook on desktop and mobile devices.

Facebook dark mode for desktop

Facebook rolled out a new design for its desktop site earlier this year, including an optional dark mode. It took a long time for the new design to be rolled out to everyone, but in October 2020, the process was finally complete.

To access Facebook dark mode for desktop, simply click the menu button at the top right (a downward-pointing arrow), select 'Display options', and then use the switch to toggle dark mode on.

Facebook desktop dark mode

(Image credit: Facebook)

If you preferred the old-style Facebook layout and chose not to switch to the new version when given the option, you can still get a similar experience by using Google Chrome to 'force' dark mode on Facebook. The effect isn't as slick as the official dark mode, but it's similar.

First make sure you have the latest version of Chrome. If you're not sure, open the main menu, select 'Help' and then 'About Google Chrome', and the browser will find and install any available updates automatically.

Now visit chrome://flags/#enable-force-dark in the address bar, and change the first drop-down box you see from 'Default' to 'Enabled'. You'll be prompted to re-launch the browser, so make sure you save any work first.

Google Chrome force dark mode

(Image credit: Google Chrome)

When Chrome re-opens, you'll find that every site you visit, including Facebook, now has inverted colors where appropriate. It's not yet perfect (sometimes white parts of images are turned black incorrectly), but it works quite well overall.

To change back, simply return to chrome://flags/#enable-force-dark and change the setting back to 'Default'.

Facebook dark mode for iPhone and Android

It's been an extremely long time coming, but Facebook is finally publicly testing a dark mode for both the regular Facebook mobile app, and Facebook Lite (which is designed to reduce mobile data use).

Researcher Jane Manchun Wong, who specializes in tearing down apps to discover forthcoming features, discovered signs of the new option tucked away in the Android app's files, and worked with Facebook's communications manager Axexandru Voica to put together a video explaining what it meant.

There's no way of opting into the test yourself; Facebook seems to be picking users to try the new dark mode using its own methods. It's all happening server-side, so there are no tricks you can use to enable it on your own phone.

You can check to see if dark mode is available by firing up the Facebook app and heading to settings. Look in the Settings & Privacy section, and if you're lucky you'll see the option waiting to be enabled – if not, you'll just have to be patient, or try 'forcing' dark mode on the Facebook mobile site.

Facebook dark mode for mobile

(Image credit: 9to5Mac)

Make sure you have the latest version of Chrome installed on your device, then type chrome://flags/#enable-force-dark into the address bar and change the flags 'Android web contents dark mode' and 'Android Chrome UI dark mode' to 'Enabled'. Once that's done, log into Facebook via Chrome and enjoy the new look.

As before, you can reverse the process by re-visiting chrome://flags/#enable-force-dark and deactivating the two switches.

Dark mode is already available in Facebook Messenger. To activate it, simply tap your profile picture, then tap the 'Dark mode' switch.

We anticipate a full Facebook dark mode for iOS, iPadOS and Android will arrive soon, and we'll keep you updated as soon as we know more. We've already seen the arrival of dark mode for both Instagram and WhatsApp, we expect it won't be long.