Quickly Switching Between Light and Dark Mode With NightOwl

Dark Mode in macOS Mojave is a great new feature, but Apple didn't give us a way to quickly switch between light and dark modes. The little donation-ware app NightOwl gives you that control in your menu bar. You can also set a keyboard shortcut, select apps to stay in light mode, and set specific times to switch between modes.

Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Quickly Switching Between Light and Dark Mode With NightOwl.

One of the big new features of Mac OS Mojave is the ability to switch into Dark Mode. Dark mode is pretty cool and a lot of people prefer working in it. Some people prefer switching between light and dark modes depending upon the time of day or the app they're using. Or maybe just as a way to kind of, you know, change things up a bit and get some more work done. But in order to do that now you have to go to System Preferences and then you have to go to General and then there you can switch to Dark Mode and you can switch back to light mode. It's a few too many steps to actually to do it as a quick change.

But there is a third party app, and I don't usually talk about third party apps that often, but there's this little free third party app by just a single developer who has created something called NightOwl. If you install it, it appears here as this little owl up in your Tool Bar. So you can get it by going to nightowl.kramser.xyz and I'll include that link in the MacMost post. You install it and once you do it's just this little guy up here. Click on it and you get this control here to switch between light and dark. So I can switch there and I can switch back to light. It's a lot easier than going to System Preferences.

You can even do it a little quicker with some keyboard shortcuts. There's a Settings button here. I'll click on the Settings button and you can set a Hotkey. So you've got a choice between three hotkeys. I wish it provided the option to set your own especially using a letter key or an F key or something. But you do have that. You also can quickly go and switch by using whatever the control click is on your trackpad or mouse. It doesn't work for me with the control on the keyboard but if I use two fingers on my trackpad I can quickly switch between them.

There's also some other options as well. You have the option to set for Sunrise/Sunset or Scheduled which is nice. Also you have the option to turn off Dark Mode for specific apps. This is really cool and something you don't get at all in the standard functionality with just the system.

So you need to be running the app so the app won't appear here unless it's running. Once it's running you can turn it off and you have to restart the app. So now, for instance Pages, is going to be in light mode all the time. So here's Pages in light mode. Now if I switch to dark mode I haven't enabled this yet. So Pages is going to go to dark mode and maybe you don't like that right. It doesn't really bring anything to it. I mean mostly you're focusing on the page itself which is not going to be dark, of course, because you want to see accurate colors and everything. So if you want to turn Pages off you go into here. You can see I've already checked it but I need to restart Pages. So I'm going to Quit Pages and I'm going to restart it here. Now notice that Pages is going to be in light mode. So whenever I'm in dark mode now Pages will be in light mode which is really nice.

If there's another app, Maps for instance, maybe I don't like the dark mode for Maps and I don't mind that it's in light mode even if I want to be in dark mode. So I will go and Quit Maps and launch Maps again and now Maps is going to be in light mode even though everything else, like say this Numbers spreadsheet here, and the main interface, that's all in dark mode.

So it's a really handy little extension here. It's donationware so it's definitely something until Apple actually gives us an easier way to maybe access and switch between light and dark mode. It's a good work around now and I see a lot of people using it. It's getting pretty popular.

Link: https://nightowl.kramser.xyz

Comments: 20 Responses to “Quickly Switching Between Light and Dark Mode With NightOwl”

    Macgeek
    4 months ago

    I just created an app in Automator and placed it in the dock.

    Michael Fisk
    4 months ago

    Terrific app. Hope lots of the viewers will donate to this developer if they like it.

    Rocky
    4 months ago

    I downloaded this (thank you), but it doesn’t have a way to turn off dark mode with running apps, which is what appealed to me most about it. There is nothing after the Light Dark settings. Are you running a beta version or am I missing something?

    4 months ago

    Rocky: Did you logout or restart like it instructed?

    Rocky
    4 months ago

    Yes, I did. I restarted actually.

    Rocky
    4 months ago

    I’m on a Mac Pro (2010) running the latest Mojave version. I restarted again but it’s still not showing the list of running applications. I saw here that Macgeek created an Automator app, so I tried it too and then placed it in the Finder window toolbar (even changed the icon to a light bulb). Works great, but I do wish I could control individual applications as you show in your video. It’s weird, no?

    4 months ago

    Rocky: Do you have the applications running? They only show up if they are running. Also, are you scrolling up in the NightOwl window?

    Peter
    4 months ago

    Gary, another great tip. The download version is 2.7 and I see you are using 2.8. No list of running applications on 2.7

    4 months ago

    Peter: Received the 2.8 version in an automatic update. Perhaps you need to wait for the 2.8 update to trigger to get it.

    Peter Grigg
    4 months ago

    Garry. From the developer- “There are some issues for some users in v0.2.8, which i can’t solve right now, because i am backpacking in Vietnam and don’t have my Mac with me. So I removed v0.2.8. It will again be available when I am back and fixed the Problems.” I hope he doesn’t mind me sending this information on to you.
    Sorry!

    Greg
    4 months ago

    Listing of active desktop Apps not showing so i can only make them ALL Light or ALL Dark? Rebooted a number of times and reinstalled the NightOwl 3x but to no avail?

    4 months ago

    Greg: Check your version. You need the latest version (2.8). Others report downloading 2.7, so I think it is just a matter of waiting to get the automatic update.

    4 months ago

    Peter: Thanks!

    Rocky
    4 months ago

    I contacted the developer as well and was going to post his response as well (thanks Peter). At least I know now that it’s not something I was doing that was wrong. :)

    Ravi
    4 months ago

    Great tip. I’ll check the app. Anyway, I set up an automator “quick action” that I assigned to the Touch Bar using the following code that I got from some website. Sorry, don’t have the URL, but I’m sure a net search will turn up the page.

    tell application “System Events”
    tell appearance preferences
    set dark mode to not dark mode
    end tell
    end tell

    Ravi
    4 months ago

    BTW, how does he have a website ending with .xyz?? Wiki tells me it is a TLD, but what is the use of having such a domain name as against .com, .net, .edu, .gov, etc?

    4 months ago

    Ravi: The Automator script is great for basic functionality, but it is nice to have the more advanced features of NightOwl too. People use all sorts of TLD names today, usually because the .com for the name they want isn’t available, or they just like the TLD.

    Karl
    4 months ago

    I really wish Apple would just put a shortcut like this in their own software. I’m always leary of downloading third party apps because you just never know.

    Adam
    3 months ago

    OK question: I’ve been using this app since your video came out. Pretty handy. A new update came out today for me. I don’t know where to close the app being that’s not like an app you’d download from the Mac App Store. You have to close the app before updating it.

    3 months ago

    Adam: Click on it in the toolbar. Click the settings button (little gear). Then click Quit.

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