By Dan Moren
September 26, 2018 1:00 PM PT
Last updated August 8, 2023
NightOwl automatically switches your Mac between Light and Dark Modes
Update: This app has since been sold to another company and now contains some dubious code that could introduce privacy and security risks.
Since Apple announced the addition of Dark Mode to macOS Mojave back in June, I’ve been hoping that there would be a way to automate its use, having it automatically turn on at a certain time of day à la the Night Shift feature on macOS and iOS. Apple, for its part, didn’t see fit to include such a capability in Mojave.
Unsurprisingly, however, third-party developers have picked up the slack. Benjamin Kramser’s NightOwl accomplishes just what I wanted and more. It lives in the menu bar and allows you to quickly toggle between Light and Dark Modes, as well as setting a schedule based on either times or on sunrise and sunset.
I’ve only tested out NightOwl on my MacBook Air so far (it’s the only one of my Macs with Mojave currently installed), but it seems to do the trick. Unfortunately it appears Apple didn’t necessarily plan for such a feature, so the transition is a little bit on the jarring side. However, as it’s only a once or twice-a-day occurrence, it’s not too bad.
Some have hoped for the ability to use a Mac’s built-in ambient light sensor to shift back and forth, and while I can see the appeal, I think it might prove to be a little inelegant, especially based on the current transition. (If you have a room, like my office, where the light level fluctuates even during the day, you could end up having that jarring switch much more often. I learned that the hard way with some of my smart home experiments.)
Maybe when next year rolls around Apple will incorporate an automatic Dark Mode switch, but for now, NightOwl is worth your investment. It’s a free download, though if you end up using it, you might consider donating some money the developer’s way.
[Hat tip: Six Colors member Craig.]
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at @firstname.lastname@example.org or reach him by email at email@example.com. His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]
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