Dark themes are all the rage, with big-name apps like Facebook Messenger and even OEMs like Samsung getting in on the trend. Not to be outdone, Google is rolling out a dark mode to its popular Chrome browser for Android devices.
The new dark mode is available in the latest stable version of Chrome, so you don’t need to mess around with experimental apps like Chrome Dev or Canary — you just need to enable a flag, then toggle a setting. But even though it’s in stable Chrome, it’s a beta feature, so there are some bugs that you might see as dealbreakers. Currently, the version of dark mode in Chrome stable only themes Chrome’s interface, not websites, though this may change as the feature gets refined.
First, you’ll need to update Chrome to version 74 or higher. If you’re not sure what version of Chrome you’re running, head to Settings –> Apps, then select Chrome from the list. Scroll down to the bottom of the App Info page and the version number should be listed there.
If you’re not on Chrome 74 or higher, you’ll need to update the app. The new version is currently rolling out on the Play Store, but if it hasn’t hit your device, you can sideload Chrome 74 by tapping on the APK link we’ve provided below. This is the same exact file that Google uploaded to the Play Store, so it’s safe to install and it won’t prevent you from getting future updates to Chrome.
Now, open the app and type chrome://flags into the address bar, then hit the enter button. From there, search for “Android Chrome UI dark mode,” then tap on the box marked “Default” under to the top result and select “Enabled” from the menu that appears. Hit “Relaunch Now” when you’re finished.
After Chrome successfully relaunches, you’ll still need to enable dark mode for the app, so tap on the menu button in the upper-right corner of the screen and select “Settings.” From there, tap on “Dark Mode,” then enable the toggle on the following page to turn the feature on.
If the “Dark Mode” option isn’t showing up within Chrome’s settings, force close the app and check the settings again until “Dark Mode” appears. In our testing, we found that the option finally kicked in after force closing Chrome three or four times.
Chrome’s dark mode is not a finished product, so it still has kinks that need to be ironed out before it makes its official debut. But it does apply a dark theme to the main browser UI, including the new tab page, the tab switcher, address bar, and various menus within the app.
The biggest issue you may notice is black text on dark gray backgrounds. This is present in the tab switcher menu, and for some users, in the “Articles for You” page. A more minor bug is the fact that the navigation bar remains white despite the app being in dark mode.
On pre-stable versions of Chrome (e.g., Canary), it appears Google is testing an extended version of this theme that also turns some websites dark. This can result in the same problem of dark text on a dark background, and there’s another issue where images may appear in inverted colors from time to time.
If these bugs are dealbreakers, you can disable dark mode by returning to Chrome’s settings menu, selecting “Dark Mode,” then turning off the toggle switch. We’ll update this guide with new info as the feature becomes more reliable.