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How to schedule the dark theme on macOS

The dark theme on macOS is far superior to the dark theme on Windows 10 however, they both have something in common. You cannot schedule when the dark theme is enabled and when the light theme is enabled. With Windows 10, there are apps that fill this gap. On macOS, you can create an app in Automator to toggle the macOS theme and use Calendar events to set when the app will run, effectively creating a workflow that lets you schedule the dark theme on macOS.

Looking for a way to use the light theme but with a dark menu bar and dock? There’s a terminal trick to do just that.

Toggle theme app

The first step to scheduling the dark theme is getting a way to toggle it. There’s no simple switch for it so we’re going to use Automator.

Open Automator and select New Document. From the list of document types, select Application.

Once the Application document is open, look at the actions in the column on the left and select ‘Change System Appearance’. Make sure the ‘Change Appearance’ option is set to ‘Toggle Light/Dark’. Save this application anywhere you want though it’s a good idea to save it to the Application folder. This is fairly simple and there’s no chance of error but if you want to test it out, simply run the app and it will change the current theme.

Schedule dark theme

Now that we have a means of changing the theme, we need to automate when it runs. To do this, open the Calendar app and add a new event. Give it a name that will tell you what it’s for e.g., Dark Mode.

Once the event has been created, double-click it on the calendar. This will open a little panel on the right displaying the basic details for the event such as when it will start, when it will end, what alert it will play, and how often it should repeat. We need to change all this in order to schedule the dark theme on macOS.

In the event’s details, change the Starts time to when you want to switch to the dark theme. You may want to set it to 10 PM (or earlier). Set the Ends time to when you want to go back to the light theme and make sure you count the hours between the start and end times.

Next, set Repeat to Everyday.

Now it’s time to customize the alert. We need two alerts for this event. The first will run when the event starts, and the second will run when the event ends.

For the first alert, click inside the alert box, and select ‘Custom’.

On the custom alert box, select ‘Open File’ and then select the application you created in the previous step. Set the alert time to ‘At time of event’, and click OK.

Now we need to add the second alert. Click the little plus button next to the alert that you’ve already added to add a second alert. Customize it so that it too opens a file, and select the same application that you created in the previous section.

Change the time of the alert to Hours after and set it to run the number of hours after which you want the dark theme to be turned off. For example, I set it to 8 hours after because I want the theme to go back to the light theme at 6 AM which is exactly 8 hours after 10 PM.

Click OK, and save the changes to the event. That should be enough to schedule the dark mode on Windows 10. If you’re outside the event time, you should switch to the light mode as the application is basically a toggle for the theme.

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