Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

This month, join us and Relay FM in supporting St. Jude.

By Jason Snell

BitBar, PHP, AppleScript, and Dark mode

I woke up this morning to find a challenge from Reader Max Velasco Knott. Max apparently enjoys Dark Mode on macOS — and my BitBar plugins don’t consider the existence of Dark Mode, mostly because I never use it.

So I set about trying to figure out how to make a BitBar plugin support Dark Mode. The answer, of course, is AppleScript:

    tell application "System Events"
        tell appearance preferences
            set theMode to dark mode
        end tell
    end tell
    return theMode

This script will return true if we’re in Dark Mode and false if we aren’t. (I found several other suggestions online that used Apple’s defaults read terminal command to detect the theme status, but they didn’t work for me in the Big Sur beta and this did, so I’m going with this.)

But… my air quality script is written in PHP, so how to pipe AppleScript into a PHP script? Here’s how:

$darkmode = shell_exec('osascript <<EOF
tell application "System Events"
    tell appearance preferences
        set theMode to dark mode
    end tell
end tell
return theMode
EOF
');
$darkmodestate = filter_var($darkmode, FILTER_VALIDATE_BOOLEAN);

Essentially, you use shell_exec to run the osascript command which is how you run AppleScript scripts from the command line. Then I create a boolean, $darkmodestate, because I am bad at PHP and matching strings is hard.

Reader Max doesn’t actually like my use of color in the menu bar, so he said he had created a version of my plugin that was monochrome. Which, fair enough! Here’s my “AQI colors” subroutine, rebuilt to support Max’s desire for Dark Mode and monochrome:

if ( $darkmodestate ) {
// we are in dark mode
        return '#ffffff';
} else {
// we are in light mode
        return '#000000';
    }
}

My personal version of this plugin has been updated to support Dark Mode, with different colors selected for both modes for (somewhat) improved legibility. And I’ve made the monochrome version available too. BitBar remains a free utility.

If you appreciate articles like this one, support us by becoming a Six Colors subscriber. Subscribers get access to an exclusive podcast, members-only stories, and a special community.


Search Six Colors