How To: Enable Dark Mode in WhatsApp for iPhone or Android

Enable Dark Mode in WhatsApp for iPhone or Android

Dark mode not only aids in battery life and low-light viewing, but it also just looks better. This is why apps like Facebook Messenger, Twitter, and Chrome are adopting dark themes, leading us to wonder when WhatsApp will join in on the fun.

The good news is WhatsApp is actively working on a dark theme. Unfortunately, the feature is still far from a finished product, and despite numerous leaks confirming its existence, there's no firm word on when it will roll out.

That doesn't mean you can't get dark mode in WhatsApp. In the meantime, the workarounds below can darken your favorite messaging app almost as effectively as the official dark theme toggle will when it rolls out.

Android

If you're on an Android, you'll need to be running Android 10 to apply a dark theme to WhatsApp. This is because you'll need to first enable Android's new native dark mode feature, then tweak it further to work with WhatsApp. You can see if your phone supports Android 10 by heading to the link below.

Since Android 10 is currently in beta, you'll need to opt in for the update if you're among those with a supported phone. To see how that works, follow this guide.

Step 1: Enable Android 10's Dark Theme

As mentioned above, you'll first need to enable Android 10's native dark theme system-wide before you can turn on the feature for WhatsApp. To do so, open your Settings app, choose "Display," then tap "Theme" and select "Dark."

Image by Dallas Thomas/Gadget Hacks

Step 2: Turn on Developer Options

With Dark mode enabled, you'll now need to enable Developer Options by heading to "About Phone" in Settings, then tapping on "Build Number" seven times. Once the toast notification appears, go back to the main Settings page, and follow the menu below to get to "Developer options."

Settings -> System -> Advanced -> Developer options

Once inside Developer options, hit "Override force-dark" to make Android 10's dark theme apply to all apps, including WhatsApp. Exit the Settings app after doing so, and proceed to the next step.

Note: In some beta versions of Android 10, the "Override force-dark" option has been removed. We expect it to return and will keep you updated on this method if anything changes.

Images by Dallas Thomas/Gadget Hacks

Step 3: Completely Darken WhatsApp (Optional)

Upon, enabling "Override force-dark," WhatsApp will now have a dark theme applied all throughout its UI. However, message threads will still have the light, default wallpaper set. Thankfully, you can easily remedy this by removing the wallpaper altogether by following the menu below:

WhatsApp -> Menu Button -> Settings -> Chats

Once inside the "Chats" page within WhatsApp's settings, hit "Wallpaper," followed by "No wallpaper" to fully darken your threads. Alternatively, you can also set darker images as wallpapers by selecting relevant photos found within either your Phone's "Gallery" or "Wallpaper Library" to add some pizzazz to your chats.

(1) A thread with the default wallpaper set. (2) The same thread with the default wallpaper removed. Images by Dallas Thomas/Gadget Hacks

iOS

If you have an iPhone, there are some options you can try out right now to turn give WhatsApp a darker appearance. We've listed the two methods below, though you'll need to keep in mind that the second method requires a jailbroken device.

Method 1: Smart Invert

While not exactly a dark mode in the true sense of the word, the iPhone's built-in "Smart Invert" feature introduced back in iOS 11 improves upon the older "Classic Invert" setting. And just like the latter, the former also reverses the colors of the iPhone's display but isn't applied across the board, so it leaves images media, and dark-themed apps untouched for the most part.

Settings -> General -> Accessibility ->
Display Accomodations -> Invert Colors ->
Smart Invert (Toggle)

Once enabled via the above menu, Smart Invert does a great job of mimicking a dark theme on WhatsApp, and evenly applies it all throughout the app for a fairly consistent appearance. Best of all, images, videos, and media don't appear distorted, making it a solid option to use while you wait for the app's night theme to finally arrive. As handy as the feature is, however, it's not without its limitations.

Just like the Android method highlighted above, Smart Invert doesn't completely apply a dark theme throughout the app's UI. As can be seen from the GIF above, the background within a thread's page retains its original appearance and contrasts highly with the rest of the interface. Fortunately, you can easily set a darker wallpaper better match the darker theme, using the menu below:

WhatsApp -> Settings -> Chats

Once inside, the "Chats" page within the app's settings, select "Chat Wallpaper," and choose between "Wallpaper Library," Solid Colors," or "Photos." From there, simply pick a dark image or color to set as your wallpaper.

Beyond that, Smart Invert may still distort some photos or media on occasion. While this occurrence is rare within WhatsApp itself, other apps may not fare as well, so you might want to disable the feature outside of WhatsApp. Fortunately, iOS gives you the ability to quickly switch between Smart Invert and your iPhone's original appearance by adding a toggle to Accessibility Shortcuts.

With Smart Invert enabled within Accessibility Shortcuts, you can instantly pull up the feature to turn off or on by triple-clicking on either the Home button (iPhone 8 on down) or the Side button (iPhone X on up). You can even add the Accessibility Shortcuts to the Control Center for even more access. To learn more about these features, here's a more detailed guide on the topic:

Method 2: Jailbreak Tweak

If you've jailbroken your iPhone, you have the ability to apply a dark theme to WhatApp by way of a tweak. Ahmed Bafkir's free WADarkMode is one such tweak you can install right now, which can be had directly within either Cydia or Sileo — no external repo required.

Once you install the tweak, an option for dark mode will now appear within WhatsApp's "Settings" page for you to access and tinker with. Besides the all-important "Enable" toggle that turns the dark mode feature on, WADarkMode also comes with a wide assortment of options via the "Customize Colors" page to let you fully personalize the app's UI.

Among these include settings to let you change the colors for both incoming and outgoing chat bubbles, texts, background, and so much more. Keep in mind that in order for the tweak — and any changes you make for that matter — to take effect, you'll need to force close and restart WhatsApp

Images by Amboy Manalo/Gadget Hacks

Thought not free, the $1.49 Eclipse tweak is another great option you can try out, as it gives you total control over which apps you want to apply a dark theme to — WhatsApp included. So If you'd like to learn more about Eclipse, be sure to check out our full guide below.

This article was produced during Gadget Hacks' special coverage on texting, instant messaging, calling, and audio/video chatting with your smartphone. Check out the whole Chat series.

Cover image, screenshots, and GIFs by Amboy Manalo/Gadget Hacks

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