Dark mode helps battery life and low-light viewing, and it also just looks better. That's why apps like Facebook Messenger, Twitter, and Chrome have adopted dark themes, and it's why both iOS 13 and Android 10 have added a system-wide dark mode. So where you at, WhatsApp?
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The good news is that WhatsApp is actively working on a dark theme and has officially rolled out with the feature in iOS 13. Unfortunately, the feature is still far from a finished product when it comes to Android, 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 a dark mode in WhatsApp if you're on an non-supported device. In fact, the workarounds below can darken your favorite messaging app almost as effectively as the official dark theme toggle.
If you have an iPhone, there are some options you can try out right now to give WhatsApp a darker appearance. We've listed the three methods below, though you'll need to keep in mind that the third method requires a jailbroken device.
As of version 2.20.30, WhatsApp supports iOS 13's Dark Mode feature. So there's an official way, with a simple flip of a switch, to replace whites with blacks inside the messaging app while leaving photos untouched. If you don't have iOS 13 yet, it's worth the update. Otherwise, try the other two methods for iOS 12 and older.
To enable Dark Mode for WhatsApp in iOS 13, long-press on the brightness slider in the Control Center, then toggle "Dark Mode" on. For an even quicker way to toggle it on and off, add the Dark Mode shortcut to the Control Center by going to Settings –> Control Center –> Customize Controls. You can even schedule Dark Mode in iOS 13 to turn on and off automatically at a time of your choosing.
The iPhone's built-in Smart Invert feature is the best way to turn WhatsApp dark if you're neither jailbroken nor on iOS 13. Head to Settings –> General –> Accessibility –> Display Accommodations –> Invert Colors –> Smart Invert, then toggle it on. It reverses the colors of your apps but leaves images, media, and dark-themed apps untouched.
Once enabled, Smart Invert does a great job of mimicking a dark theme on WhatsApp and evenly applies it throughout for a reasonably consistent appearance. Best of all, images, videos, and media don't appear distorted, making it a reliable option until you update to iOS 13. As handy as the feature is, however, it's not without its limitations.
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 to better match the darker theme.
Navigate to WhatsApp –> Settings –> Chats. From there, select "Chat Wallpaper," and choose between "Wallpaper Library," Solid Colors," or "Photos." Then, 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 the 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 checked within Accessibility Shortcuts, you can toggle it instantly by triple-clicking on either the Home button (iPhone 8 and older) or the Side button (iPhone X and later). You can even add the Accessibility Shortcuts to the Control Center for another shortcut.
- Full Guide: Unlock Apple's 'Dark Mode' in iOS 12 for iPhone
If you've jailbroken your iPhone, Ahmed Bafkir's free WADarkMode is a dark-mode tweak for WhatsApp that you can install right now. You can find it directly from 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 the customizations, there are settings to let you change the colors for both incoming and outgoing chat bubbles, texts, background, and so much more. Keep in mind that, for the tweak, and therefore any changes you make with it, to take effect, you'll need to force-close and restart WhatsApp
Though not free, the $1.49 Eclipse tweak is another great option, as it gives you total control over which apps you want to add a dark theme, including WhatsApp. If you'd like to learn more about Eclipse, be sure to check out our full guide.
Android also gives you multiple options to apply a dark theme to WhatsApp. But unlike iOS, the two methods are a little more tedious since the app has yet to roll out with the feature for the Google-based platform officially.
Though WhatsApp doesn't officially provide dark mode support for Androids, the latest beta with dark theme functionality has leaked out for you to try right now. And since it's the official update from the app itself, it will install on top of your existing version of WhatsApp and still allow you to get future updates from the Play Store. Best of all, you don't need to be on Android 10 for the feature to work.
Getting the latest beta for WhatsApp entails sideloading its APK on your device using a browser like Samsung Internet or Chrome, then following the prompts to complete the installation. With the latest beta installed, you're now free to give WhatsApp the dark theme treatment by tapping on the three-dot menu button, then going to Settings –> Chats –> Theme.
If you're on Android 10, you can use its native Dark Theme feature to apply dark mode to WhatsApp, though you'll need to override its UI manually for the feature to bite.
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 on stock Android 10, open your Settings app, choose "Display," then tap "Theme" and select "Dark."
With Dark Theme 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 head to System –> Advanced –> Developer options.
Next, 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.
Upon enabling "Override force-dark," WhatsApp will now have the Dark Theme applied throughout its UI. Like the iPhone's Smart Invert feature, however, message threads will still have the light, default wallpaper set. Thankfully, you can quickly remedy it by removing the wallpaper altogether; head to WhatsApp –> Menu Button –> Settings –> Chats.
Once inside the "Chats" settings page, hit "Wallpaper," followed by "No wallpaper" to darken your threads fully. 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.
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.
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