macOS Big Sur: How to make Dark Mode even darker on your Mac

Dark Mode Mac - teaser image

The dramatic Dark Mode look arrived to the Mac with the October 2017 release of the macOS 10.14 Yosemite software update. Fast forward three years and users can now force Dark Mode to become a bit darker thanks to a new setting in macOS 11.0 Big Sur. Follow along with our tutorial for step-by-step instructions for how to to make Dark Mode even darker on your Mac.

About desktop tinting

The system-wide Dark Mode theme makes the Dock, the menu bar, window toolbars and other macOS interface elements darker. As an aesthetic choice for users, Dark Mode allows the surrounding chrome to recede into the background so people can focus on their content.

TUTORIAL: How to change Mac accent color

Apps running in Dark Mode also benefit from desktop tinting, which causes window backgrounds to pick up color from the current wallpaper. As a result, a subtle tinting helps “blend windows more harmoniously with their surrounding content,” according to Apple.

Dark Mode Mac - wallpaper tinting example
Notice how macOS windows are no longer pure black with desktop tinting active

On the downside, however, desktop tinting replaces the pure black appearance of various interface elements with lighter shades of black, based on predominant wallpaper color. Prior to macOS Big Sur, there was no outward-facing user toggle to disable desktop tinting at will.

TUTORIAL: How to toggle Dark Mode with your Mac’s Touch Bar

One workaround in macOS Catalina and earlier involved choosing the graphite accent color, which was far from ideal. In Big Sur, users finally have the option to enable or disable desktop tinting without losing their custom accent colors throughout the macOS user interface.

Dark Mode Mac - Dark vs. Light Mode comparison
macOS Mojave brought the choice between Dark and Light mode throughout the user interface

Folks who like Dark Mode can now enjoy an even darker appearance without the wallpaper affecting the shade of window toolbars, the Dock etc. And those who work with color-sensitive content can finally disable desktop tinting by flipping a toggle in System Preferences.

Follow along with us as we show you how to make your Mac’s Dark Mode even darker.

How to make Mac Dark Mode even darker

Follow these steps to make your Mac’s Dark Mode even darker:

  1. Click the Apple menu and choose the option System Preferences.
  2. In the System Preferences window, click the icon General.
  3. Untick the bock next to “Allow wallpaper tinting in windows”.

Doing so results in a darker version of Dark Mode with pure black interface elements.

Dark Mode Mac - "Allow wallpaper tinting in windows" disabled in System Preferences

Conversely, allowing wallpaper tinting in windows will make window toolbars, the Dock and other user interface elements take on a bit lighter shade.

Here’s the before vs. after comparison (drag the vertical divider).

Note that desktop tinting has no effect on background color of the Finder’s sidebar.

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