How To: Activate the Hidden Dark Mode in Facebook Messenger

Activate the Hidden Dark Mode in Facebook Messenger

Facebook has been working on a dark mode for Messenger, and it's a true OLED black theme. It's still hidden away right now, but ready to activate at any time using a peculiar trick. There are two methods to activate this feature — one is easy and supported by Facebook, while the other is hard but should have a 100% success rate.

The first method is a little weird, but it will work on both Android and iPhone as long as Facebook has activated the feature for your account, though it may take a few tries. Shout out to Redditor VincentJoshuaET who discovered the second method, which requires a rooted Android phone.

Method 1: Moon Emoji

The first method works for both Android and iOS, but it's very finicky. Most users are able to trigger it if they keep trying, but it's possible Facebook hasn't turned the feature on for your account. So it'll probably work, but if it doesn't, you can wait a little bit longer. Messenger will be rolling the Dark Mode out to everyone in the settings by the end of March 2019 — without having to perform any tricks. If you still can't wait, rooted Android users can try Method 2 below.

Step 1: Send a Moon Emoji

This is so simple it's silly: to enable dark mode, send someone a moon emoji. The regular, left-facing crescent moon icon as seen below, not any of the moon emojis with smiley faces.

🌙

If you're lucky, moon emojis will rain down in the message thread, then a popup will appear at the top of the screen stating "You Found Dark Mode!" Tap this popup to turn the feature on. If it didn't work, move on to Step 2.

Step 2: Force-Close Messenger & Tap the Moon Icon

If you didn't get the moonshower the first time you sent the moon emoji, you're not completely out of luck yet. Start by closing the Facebook Messenger app by entering your phone's multitasking UI, then swiping it away (Android instructions | iOS instructions).

Now, open the app again, head to the conversation where you sent the moon emoji, then tap on the moon emoji. Some users have reported that double-tapping helps, so try both ways. Hopefully, moon emojis will start raining down when you do, at which point you'll be able to tap "Turn On" when that "You Found Dark Mode" message pops up at the top of the thread.

Image by Dallas Thomas/Gadget Hacks

If none of the fanfare happens, you still might have a chance. Fully close the app again, reopen it, tap and double tap the moon emoji you sent, then head back out to the main menu. From there, tap your profile icon (or silhouette) in the top-left corner, then scroll down and look for "Dark Mode." It should be at the very top for most users, but may be down in the Preferences section. Turn it on, then get ready to try out Dark Mode!

If Step 2 didn't do it for you, there's a good chance Facebook simply didn't roll the feature out to your account yet. Nonetheless, there's no harm in trying, so periodically repeat Step 2 and it should eventually kick in within the next few days.

Step 3: Enjoy Dark Mode

Once enabled, it's a true black dark mode, so you'll save battery life on phones with OLED screens like the iPhone XR or Galaxy S10. The theme is still being worked on, however, so you may notice a few menus here and there where black text is overlaid on the black background. Still, it's already very usable.

Method 2: Use Root to Force Dark Mode (Android Only)

The second method requires a rooted Android device with "Unknown Sources" enabled. If you meet those requirements, this method should work regardless of whether or not Facebook has enabled the feature for your account.

Step 1: Install the Latest Facebook Messenger Beta

First, since the hidden/unactivated dark mode code is only included in the latest beta version of Facebook Messenger, you'll need to update the app. The easiest way to do that is to sideload the new version from APKMirror. Just tap the link below, then scroll down and hit "Download APK." From there, launch the file from your notification tray, then tap "Install" to update Messenger.

Once you've got the latest Facebook Messenger beta installed, make sure to open the app and log in. If you don't do this now, you won't be able to activate the hidden flags menu later.

Step 2: Get a Terminal Emulator App

You'll need to run a root command to activate dark mode, which means you'll need a terminal emulator app. You can use any such app of your choosing, but if you need a recommendation here, our pick is the tried and true Terminal Emulator by Jack Palevich.

Step 3: Grant Root Access to Terminal Emulator

Now, open your terminal emulator app and type in "su" (without the quotes), then hit enter on your keyboard. You'll be prompted to give the app Superuser access (Terminal Emulator, not Facebook Messenger), so tap "Grant" on the popup. You'll now notice the second command line starts with a hashtag instead of a dollar sign — this means the terminal is running with elevated privileges.

Step 4: Access the Hidden Flags Menu

Next, copy the following command and paste it into the terminal prompt, then hit enter on your keyboard:

am start -n "com.facebook.orca/com.facebook.abtest.gkprefs.GkSettingsListActivity"

You'll immediately be taken to Facebook Messenger's hidden flags menu where low-level tweaks can be applied to the texting app. Tap "Search Gatekeepers" here, then type "dark" into the prompt and hit "OK."

Next, tap each of the results beneath the dark header to change their values from "NO" to "YES." When all three of these say "YES," back out of this menu, then fully close the Facebook Messenger app by swiping it away from your recent apps menu.

Step 5: Enable Dark Mode

Now, reopen Messenger and tap your profile picture (or the silhouette icon) in the top-left corner to access the app's main settings menu. From here, scroll down to the Preferences section and you'll see a new option that wasn't there before — toggle "Dark Mode" on, then tap "OK" on the popup to verify your choice.

Messenger will now be fully black with white text and dark gray accents. Though the popup you just saw said dark mode "won't appear everywhere in Messenger," all of the main menus have received the dark mode treatment.

Cover image and screenshots by Dallas Thomas/Gadget Hacks

12 Comments

No gate keepe4s appear how sad?? How to do it properly.. i cant find gatekeeper bla bla bla bla.. help me pls.. im rooted..

Help what should i do Im stuck here ..

You're not rooted. And if you are, it's not working properly, because you have a Huawei and you're using Magisk as the root management app.

The website is wrong. The adb way works.
open up an adb shell from the pc (with the phone connected, obviously) and then:
su(tap grant/allow on the phone)
am start -n "com.facebook.orca/com.facebook.abtest.gkprefs.GkSettingsListActivity"
check the phone after that and you'll be good to go.

Sorry, I meant you couldn't use ADB in lieu of root. I'll update the article to clarify that.

Nothing wrong with Magisk. And I didn't even have to DL the beta, just updated the messenger straight up and went to Terminal Emulator, did the thing, bam. Dark mode. Boss article.

i have a problem tho. Everyone already has the new update while im here stiLL STUCK WITH THE OLD ONE. I LOVE THE NEW UPDATE BUT I STILL DONT HAVE IT WHAT THE HELL can someone help me with this?

Now what?!

If you're on Messenger version 198.0.0.3.99 and it's still not working, it could be that you have a preinstalled version of the app and it's using a different package name. Use an app like App Inspector to find the package name for Messenger. If it's not com.facebook.orca, try uninstalling Messenger with Titanium Backup (or deleting the APK from /system/app), then restarting and reinstalling the version from APKMirror.

Just update the app, beta DL ain't needed. Kill the mess app for the first run, swiping doesn't let the dark mode appear.

Remove the quotation marks:
am start -n com.facebook.orca/com.facebook.abtest.gkprefs.GkSettingsListActivity

It's how I got it working.

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