Ever since Apple introduced a dark mode for macOS I have enjoyed using it. I’m not a hacker who works late into the night coding, in fact I’m very much a morning person who heads to bed pretty early, but I appreciate the way dark mode windows tend to lessen the strain of looking at a screen for an extended period of time. Apple has done a nice job of making default system applications dark mode friendly, and many application developers give this as an option as well.
One of the developers at SpiderOak showed me a neat Chrome extension that turns web pages into dark mode. It does this by identifying the color codes of various webpage elements, like the background and the foreground text, and reversing them. All of this is done in the browser window on your computer. It can add a slight lag to page load times, but it allows you to have a much more eyestrain-free browsing experience. (I like it so much that it’s one of the things I really miss on my phone compared to my desktop.)
This magic extension is called Dark Reader.
It’s compatible with Chrome and Chromium-based browsers (including my default, Brave, and the excellent Vivaldi), Firefox, and Safari. The Chrome and Firefox extensions are free, while the Safari extension is available in the Mac App Store for a small fee.
One of the things I like most about Dark Reader is the ability to create your own whitelist of sites. I like Startpage’s dark theme, so I put startpage.com on the list of sites Dark Reader should not activate on. Some websites detect your operating system’s dark mode preference and automatically renders a dark mode version. Sites like that I also whitelist. Once in a while there will be a site that just doesn’t look right or has elements that Dark Mode doesn’t render correctly. Turning it off for that page is very easy. I’ve found, however, that about 95% of websites I visit look great with Dark Reader enabled.
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