How to Use Light Theme with Dark Menu Bar and Dock in MacOS Mojave
Enabling Dark Mode in macOS Mojave tranforms the entire user interface appearance into an all-dark look, and while it’s very popular with many users, some other Mac users may not want a full dark mode appearance on their Mac. Instead, some Mac users may prefer a more limited Dark theme experience that only applies to the menu bar and Dock. Coincidentally, and as you may recall, earlier versions of MacOS system software had a dark menu and dark Dock feature that could be enabled, which transitioned only the Menu Bar and Dock to a Dark theme while preserving the regular Light theme across all other user interface elements. This tutorial aims to restore that latter functionality to macOS Mojave, allowing you to keep the Light mode theme for all user interface elements except the Menu bar and Dock, which will be placed into Dark Mode theme exclusively.
If you want to have a Dark theme Menu Bar and Dark Dock in MacOS Mojave without all the other Dark Theme interface applied to windows and UI elements, read on to learn how to accomplish this feat.
This approach requires the use of the command line and defaults commands, if you are not comfortable with the Terminal or modifying system elements it’s probably best to skip this. At the very least, backup your Mac before going further.
How to Enable Dark Menu Bar and Dark Dock Only in MacOS Mojave
Want Light mode with a Dark Menu Bar and Dark Dock? Here is how you can enable that in MacOS 10.14 onward:
- Go to the Apple menu and choose “System Preferences”
- Select the “General” preference panel and under the Appearance section choose the “Light” mode theme in Mac OS
- Now open the Terminal application, found in /Applications/Utilities/ and enter the following command:
- Hit Return to execute the defaults command
- Pull down the Apple menu and choose “Log Out”, then after logged out log right back in to the same user account
- Go back to the Apple menu and choose “System Preferences” and return to the “General” preference panel
- Under the “Appearance” section choose “Dark” to change only the Menu Bar and Dock to be dark themed
defaults write -g NSRequiresAquaSystemAppearance -bool Yes
You’ll now have the Dark Menu Bar and a Dark Dock, but all other interface elements in MacOS will be in the Light mode theme.
This adjustment represents how the Dark theme effects worked in prior versions of Mac OS system software, where the Dark theme only applied to menu bars and the Dock, but not other interface elements elsewhere throughout macOS.
Whether or not you want to have a more limited Dark theme as described here, or if you want the full Dark mode theme, is entirely up to you. A reader requested this option in our comments and another commenter left the solution, so thanks to e01 and Kai for that helpful trick in our comments section!
If you make the change to limit Dark mode to only the Menu bar and Dock in macOS and later wish to return to full Dark Mode of all interface elements, next we will cover how you can reverse this change and return back to the default settings in macOS Mojave.
How to Revert to Default & Full Dark Mode in macOS Mojave
If you want to restore the default Mac theming behavior with full Dark Mode and full Light Mode in MacOS, here is how to revert the prior changes and return to the default theming options:
- Open the Terminal application, as found in /Applications/Utilities/ and enter the following command:
- Pull down the Apple menu and choose “Log Out”, then log back into the same user account
- Return to the Apple menu and choose “System Preferences” and return to the “General” preference panel
- Under the “Appearance” section choose “Dark” or “Light” to return to the normal default Dark Mode or Light Mode themes in macOS
defaults write -g NSRequiresAquaSystemAppearance -bool No
ALTERNATIVELY, if the above fails try:
defaults delete -g NSRequiresAquaSystemAppearance
This merely restores the default options to MacOS Mojave, where clicking on “Light” or “Dark” theme will impact the entire Mac OS interface and visual experience, with the ability to enable full Dark Mode theme or the full Light Mode theme.
So there you have it, you can customize Dark mode a bit to impact everything, or only the menu bar and Dock, it’s up to you! Enjoy!
If you know of any other interesting tweaks or adjustments to make to Dark Mode or Light Mode themes in MacOS, share with us in the comments below!