5 Great Tips for Working on a Mac at Night or in Low Light

Nov 12, 2018 - 11 Comments

Tips for Using Mac at Night

Are you a night time Mac user? Many of us are, and MacOS has a lot of great features that can improve low light computing experiences.

Whether you’re working in the dim evening or late at night, or even just in a dark room, we’ll share with you some helpful tips to make low-light Mac usage even better. Perhaps you’ll find these tricks will help you to reduce eye strain and might even make you more productive as a result!

Note that some of these features are limited to MacOS Mojave 10.14 and later, like the full Dark Mode theme, but the same general principles will apply to other Mac OS versions as well.

1: Manually Reduce Screen Brightness

Many of the Mac displays are extremely bright, which looks brilliant and allows for vibrant colors and screen imagery, but at night or in low light you’ll probably want to reduce that screen brightness considerably.

You can use the keyboard brightness controls, or adjust brightness through the Display preference panel on Mac.

Lower Screen Brightness

Another great benefit to reducing screen brightness is for Mac laptops, where you’ll almost certainly notice a significant boost to battery life while the screen is more dimmed.

2: Use Night Shift for a Warmer Screen Hue

Night Shift is the great feature that warms the display colors of a Mac during the evening and night time hours, so that the screen is putting off less blue light. There are many proven benefits to reducing blue light exposure, and you might even notice less eye strain when using Night Shift too.

Enabling Night Shift on Mac is done through the Display preference panel, setting it on a schedule or to match the daytime and nighttime hours is an easy way to appreciate the app as it sets in automatically. Generally speaking, the warmest setting offers the best results for most users.

Use Night Shift for warmer display hue

For Macs without Night Shift support, you can also use Flux for a similar effect

3: Use Dark Mode to Reduce Bright Interface Elements

Dark Mode takes all of the bright white and bright gray user interface elements on a Mac and makes them dark gray, which is perfect for working at night and in low light situations. Enabling Dark Mode on the Mac is simply done through the “General” preference panel in MacOS.

Currently you have to manually enable and disable Dark Mode when you want to use it, but perhaps a future version of MacOS will allow for automatic Dark Mode similar to how Night Shift and Dynamic Desktops works.

Enable Dark Mode theme on Mac OS

For Mac users who don’t have the full Dark Mode theme, earlier versions of Mac OS allow for enabling a Dark menu bar and Dock instead.

4: Use Dark Wallpapers or Dynamic Desktops

Dynamic Desktop automatically changes the wallpaper with the time of day, using a darker picture in the evening and night hours. This helps to reduce the brightness coming off the display, making it easier on the eyes to stare at a screen. It also looks great.

Dynamic Desktops are enabled in the Desktop & Screen Saver preference panel.

Using Dark wallpapers or Dynamic Desktops

If you don’t have or like Dynamic Desktops, then just setting a dark wallpaper can offer the same effect of reducing the amount of brightness coming off the display.

5: Browsing the Web? Use Safari Reader Mode

Safari Reader Mode is excellent for many reasons, but if you’re browsing the web or reading the web at night, placing an article into Safari Reader is fantastic because you can theme Reader so that it matches Dark Mode on the Mac, taking black on white text and turning it into white on dark gray or white on black.

Enabling Reader Mode in Safari is just a matter of clicking the Reader button in the URL bar of a web page, and then you can click the “aA” button to customize the appearance of Safari Reader on Mac as well including changing color scheme, fonts, and text size (using larger text at night is easier on the eyes for many of us).

Dark Reader mode in Safari

Oh and if you’re on the web using YouTube, you can try YouTube dark mode theme too.

Unrelated to working at night, but another fantastic Safari Reader tip is for printing an articles content only, without ads or other page content that can use unnecessary printer ink.

Do you have any helpful tips or tricks about working on a Mac while in dimmer lighting, at night time, or in low light conditions? Share with us in the comments below!

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

11 Comments

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  1. Nera says:

    Dimming display brightness and using Flux / Night Shift make a HUGE difference for me being able to comfortably use a Mac at night in low light conditions.

    Also for laptop users I recommend changing the screen resolution at night to be bigger with less space if your eyes strain easy, it makes everything on screen larger by reducing resolution, but it can make a big difference too.

  2. insomniac says:

    Good tips. There’s a free app called NightOwl which makes switching to and from Dark and Light theme in MacOS easy

    But even better is it lets you automate Dark Theme Mode on a schedule, like Night Shift

    https://nightowl.kramser.xyz/

    No relation but I have seen it mentioned elsewhere, check it out.

  3. Editor says:

    It’s one thing to title your article “5 tips for…”. It’s kinda presumptuous to anoint it “5 Great tips…”. Just sayin..

    • Paul says:

      Fair enough, but it’s just a headline.

      You’re welcome to share some of your own tips for working in low light conditions!

  4. yyz says:

    BTW,

    f.lux has an option to use dark mode at sunset. Works great.

  5. Rosa Aksentowicz says:

    Itβ€˜s a great tips about WiFi print from Desktop πŸ–₯, I have to try it so soon as well! I do always to print from iOS Safari directly from WiFi printer and now Iβ€˜l try from Desktop Printer without WiFi, if it’s going Iβ€˜ll share it
    at once.
    Thanks for sharing and have a great time Paul πŸ™

  6. Dina says:

    I thank you very much, there was a feature in your article that I was not aware Safari could do (Safari Reader Mode)

  7. Ernot says:

    Those overlayed moon phase images on the header image look wonderfully on that dark-themed desktop. Are these from an available application?

    • Paul says:

      Ernot, great question! Those moon phase images are actually part of the Emoji included in macOS, the newer versions of MacOS have higher resolution versions of them available that you can place at larger sizes. Here’s the moon image suite from the Emoji, you can copy and paste this or access it through the regular Emoji shortcut in Mac OS:

      πŸŒ‘πŸŒ’πŸŒ“πŸŒ–πŸŒ•πŸŒ”πŸŒ—πŸŒ˜πŸŒšπŸŒπŸŒœπŸŒ›

      You can see a larger version of the above graphic at this link, the moon emoji (and emoji in general) not super detailed when shown at larger sizes:

      http://cdn.osxdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/tips-using-mac-at-night-dark.jpg

      Anyway, on US English keyboards, in any text entry box you can hit CONTROL + COMMAND + SPACEBAR to bring up the Emoji selector and you can find the moon icons and all other Emoji available to type there.

      Here’s some more info on that keyboard shortcut for Emoji access in Mac OS:

      http://osxdaily.com/2015/05/27/quick-type-emoji-mac-keyboard-shortcut/

      Hope that helps!

      • Ernot says:

        Thanks very much for your detailed response, it’s greatly appreciated! And it shows that emoji bring something for everyone, even us tech-nerds. ;-)

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