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Facebook dark mode: when it's coming, and how to check it out early

Try Facebook dark mode and avoid the glare

Facebook dark mode
(Image: © Shutterstock)

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

We've been waiting months for Facebook dark mode, but finally the social network's new look is starting to arrive on phones and desktops, giving you a smarter, more stylish way to browse through your news feed.

Dark mode isn't just about looks, though. While 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, making for a more comfortable social experience.

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.

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 has been working on a new design for its desktop site for several months now, with an optional dark mode, and has now announced that it'll be rolling out to "the vast majority" of users over the coming days.

When you get the update, you should see a prompt at the top of the screen asking if you want to try the new-look Facebook. Once you accept, you'll be able to switch to dark mode from the settings menu.

If you're still waiting to receive the new design, you can use Google Chrome to 'force' dark mode on Facebook. This doesn't look exactly the same as the official dark mode will, but it's not too far off.

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 iOS and Android

Facebook is also testing a new design for Android, which also offers a dark mode option. Again, this feature is currently available to a group of testers chosen seemingly at random.

Facebook's mobile dark mode still seems to be very much a work in progress, and some users who've managed to catch a sneak peek at it have reported that it seems to be unfinished, switching between dark and light modes seemingly at random.

There's no sign yet of dark mode for iOS, but we'd be surprised if it's far behind, as the two mobile apps share a lot of the same assets.

For the time being, you can experience the dark side on your phone or tablet using Google Chrome: 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.

 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 Instagram dark mode, and WhatsApp dark mode is now in beta testing, so we expect it won't be long.