Toggle Dark Mode & Light Mode on Mac Quickly from Spotlight

Jan 29, 2019 - 8 Comments

Switch Dark Mode and Light Mode on Mac quickly from Spotlight

Do you wish you could enable Dark mode or Light mode interface themes faster in Mac OS? Maybe you wish there was a keystroke to switch from Dark or Light mode on the Mac?

If you’re tired of heading over to System Preferences to make the change, you can use a nifty trick to quickly toggle between Dark mode and Light mode on the Mac right from Spotlight, which effectively allows you to switch the interface themes entirely from the keyboard.

How to Create a Dark Mode / Light Mode Toggle for Spotlight in MacOS

First you will need to create a simple Automator app that toggles the Mac theme.

Note: if you followed our previous guide for automatically enabling Dark Mode on a schedule then you can use the exact same Automator tool for this purpose and skip this section.

  1. Open “Automator” on the Mac, it’s in the Applications folder
  2. The Automator icon in MacOS

  3. From the Automator options, select to create a new “Application”
  4. Select the Library actions section in the sidebar and search for “Change System Appearance” and drag that into the Automator workflow on the right side of the Automator window
  5. Set the ‘Change System Appearance’ option to “Toggle Light / Dark” if that isn’t chosen by default already
  6. Now save the Automator application with a name like “Toggle Light or Dark”, and place it somewhere like like the Documents folder or Application folder
  7. Exit out of Automator when finished

That’s it, now you’re ready to use this simple Mac dark / light interface theme toggle from Spotlight.

How to Change Dark Mode or Light Mode from Spotlight in MacOS

Now that you’ve created the Automator app to toggle from Light and Dark mode, you can access this at anytime and from anywhere with Spotlight on the Mac:

  1. Open Spotlight as usual with Command + Spacebar, or by clicking the Spotlight magnifying glass icon in the upper right corner
  2. Type in “Toggle Light / Dark” and hit the RETURN / ENTER key on the keyboard to instantly launch the application, this will switch from Dark mode to Light Mode or Light Mode to Dark Mode
  3. How to Toggle Dark Mode on or off from Spotlight on Mac

  4. Repeat this Spotlight search and return/enter key trick anytime you want to quickly change between Dark mode and Light mode on the Mac
  5. Toggle Dark Mode or Light Mode from Spotlight on Mac

Now anytime you want to switch between the Mac themes of Dark Mode and Light Mode you can just open up Spotlight with Command + Spacebar, type in “Toggle Light / Dark” (or whatever you named the Automator app) and hit return. The interface theme will immediately change. Repeat again to switch back.

Switching Dark Mode and Light Mode on Mac quickly from Spotlight

There are other options for getting in and out of Dark Mode too, for example you can schedule Dark Mode to turn itself on automatically on a Mac with Automator and Calendar app. Or you can always just manually enable the Mac Dark Mode theme or default Light theme in System Preferences too. Note that if you’re using the Darker dark mode theme then you’ll need to maintain the gray accent color choice to toggle between that and the light theme.

Using the Dark Mode theme is great for working at night and dim lighting situations, so being able to get in and out of it quickly is quite nice.


Related articles:

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


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  1. Tammi says:

    NightOwl used to be my go-to tool, but it was compromised. Summary from a podcast on the topic: “A banal Mac app to granularly adjust Light Mode and Dark Mode was bought out by a shady company, and enlists Macs in a botnet.”

    Glad to have this easy alternative.

    HT also to the comment from James for noting that the automation-application can be saved to the dock.

  2. Edouard says:


    Thanks for this very helpful tips.
    Investigating further, I discovered that it’s even more convenient again to create a “Quick Action” instead of a whole Application, because then you can map it to a keyboard shortcut: go to Preferences -> Keyboard -> Shortcuts, and in the “General” section you should see your Quick Action.


  3. Kay A says:

    I also do not have Change System Appearance.l . This is the second one of these today that I have tried and the item is not there. I am thinking there must be something i have set up that is stopping these.

  4. Peter LaPine says:

    I have no Change System Appearance option in my Automator Library – wth?

  5. James Tarpley says:

    Seems like a couple of unnecessary steps. Instead, after creating and naming the automation, drag it to the dock for ready access. Double clicking the automation will toggle Dark/Light mode as desired.

  6. Dale Mackie says:

    Instead of all that I prefer to use “Dark Reader”that is available from GitHub at:
    It is meant for Chrome and Firefox, but if you download it for one or the other it will go into your app folder.
    Now open up your Safari, then go to the Apple app store and search Dark Reader.
    The first result will be that with an open button. Click that and it will ask if you want to enable it for Safari.
    Answer yes and you will immediately have an icon show up in your toolbar.
    Click on your new Dark reader and you will have all kinds of options besides on, off, and auto you will be able to adjust and the amount of darkness, the contrast etc.
    The only slight disadvantage is there does not seem to be a keyboard short cut when using it in Safari, but there is one in Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.

  7. Michal says:

    I use NightOwl 0.2.7 menu bar app to accomplish the same thing. Not sure if you have heard of this one since it does the same thing and it sits in the menu bar and one right click lets you switch back and forth and has a few more options as well like scheduling. I think it is free too.

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