This Free Utility Makes Windows 11 Dark Mode Actually Usable

This Free Utility Makes Windows 11 Dark Mode Actually Usable
Photo: A9 STUDIO, Shutterstock

Windows 11 shipped with a “dark mode,” but not a good one. It’s more like a dark theme, missing features you’ve come to expect from other platforms. Dark mode should automatically kick in at sunset, or an hour of your choosing. It should be easy to turn on and off, preferably from a quick settings panel. Neither of those options exists in Windows 11, which is where a free utility called Auto Dark Mode comes in.

Auto Dark Mode makes Windows 11’s dark mode actually functional, and even includes a global hotkey feature that makes enabling dark mode just a keyboard shortcut away. It’s a decently customisable utility, and well worth the download. You can find it on the Microsoft Store, or from the developer’s GitHub page. After installing it, get started with your customisations — you can set it to enable automatically, switch out your desktop wallpaper, and more.

How to automate Windows 11 dark mode on a schedule

In the Auto Dark Mode settings, head to the “Time” section. Here, you can use the “Set Custom Hours” feature to automatically enable and disable dark mode at a given time.

If you’re ok giving the app access to your location, it can automatically enable dark mode right around sunset.

How to automatically change wallpaper and theme in dark mode

Next, head over to the “Personalisation” tab, where you can choose to either change the wallpaper or the desktop theme when dark mode or light mode is triggered (you can’t do both).

Choose one of the options and enable it in the next step. From there, customise it based on your needs. For example, you can set a different, pre-configured theme to kick in when dark mode is enabled.

How to launch Windows 11 dark mode using keyboard shortcuts

Hotkey functionality is one of the best features in the Auto Dark Mode app. It lets you set a system-wide keyboard shortcut that will enable light mode or dark mode at the press of a key.

Go to the “Switch Modes” section and ensure the “Enable system-wide hotkeys” feature is disabled. (You can only edit or create hotkeys when the feature is disabled.) Click the box below the “Force Light Mode Hotkey” and “Force Dark Mode Hotkey” options and set your global keyboard shortcuts as you like. Finally, click the toggle next to the “Enable system-wide hotkeys” feature.

How to launch Windows 11 dark mode from the taskbar

Screenshot: Khamosh PathakScreenshot: Khamosh Pathak

Not a fan of keyboard shortcuts? You can quickly enable dark mode from the taskbar. Go to the System Tray, right-click the Auto Dark Mode icon, and select the “Force Dark Theme” option to switch to dark mode, and Force Light Mode to go back to the light side.

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