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How to manually turn on dark mode in Android Pie

The final build of Android P is officially here, and while there are a ton of features to keep track of, there's one particular one we're quite excited about — a manual dark mode. Google told us this was coming in mid-June, and now that that day has finally arrived, we're here to tell you just how to enable it.

In order for this to work, you'll need to have a Pixel phone running Android Pie. Assuming you do, manually turning on dark mode is pretty simple.

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap Display.
  3. Tap Advanced.
  4. Scroll down and tap Device theme.
  5. Tap Dark.

By default, the device theme is set to Automatic (based on wallpaper) like we've had since the Pixel 2 came out last October. With Pie, however, you can manually toggle the dark or light setup no matter what wallpaper you have.

As it stands, device theme changes the appearance of your app drawer, quick settings panel, folders, Google Feed page, the outline surrounding the Google Search bar and app shortcuts when viewing your recently opened apps, and the power menu/volume level popups.

Now, only one question remains — light or dark?

Android Pie: Everything you need to know about Android 9

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

33 Comments
  • I just wish that dark mode would make the notifications dark too. I hate the inconsistent and eye-gouging white notifications on a dark theme :(
  • Now, that's just plain retarded.
    Freaking Google. First, took them forever to do such a simple thing and they can't even make it right.
    Unmatched men power and resources at disposal and 10 years later they are still Beta company for consumer devices.
    Unbelievable.
  • Way to blow a thing out of proportion 👌🏻
  • This beta just added that so final version may have setting in dark mode and a few other things.
  • Beta as in always releasing flawed or half baked products.
  • I was excited to enable the dark theme once I found the setting after sideloading...but i don't like the inconsistency as well..let's see how long i can handle it lol
  • If it doesn't change the notification "shade", it's not really a dark theme. The usual half-baked, half-arsed bullshit we should expect from Google.
  • Who gives a **** it's not a big deal. We're getting closer to a native dark theme so be happy about that.
  • I give a star-star-star-star, obviously. This is important TO ME. It might not be important to you, but I don't care about your opinion any more than you care about mine. We're no closer to a true dark theme than we've been for the last few years. They always tease in the Dev preview and remove in the release... They've done it for at least the last two platform betas (N and O). Basically, do your research or stfu... Preferably both.
  • Glad to see this, but I'm with Mo on the blinding white notifications, especially at night in a darkened room.
  • Maybe it gets so complicated for them to figure that part out and by final release decide to take the dark theme out again. lol
  • Not black though. And still doesn't apply to the entire system UI, just the notification shade. Google still has a long long way to go before they deliver a good REAL dark theme (and by that I mean using black instead of ugly mouse grey). I guess 10 years from now they'll finally learn how to do good UIs.
    Well, unless Apple does it first, then Google will do what they do now and quickly copy it.
  • I wholeheartedly agree with all of this, except the part about mice bring ugly. Mice are cute. Unless they're invading your house and chewing your stuff.
  • This! How is this a dark theme? Everything should be the same color... Black. My V30 has no problem accomplishing this
  • Exactly
  • The best UI Google released was 4.4.4 Kit Kat. Snappy, Smooth and consistent in design. Everything since is a joke. They focused so much on Animations and lost sight to more important things - User Friendliness :)
  • Let's not forget it's still in beta.
  • That's what I'm saying.
  • Good point! It's so stable I forget it's a beta
  • I wish the setting would go dark as well. But it's possible in the finally version.
  • My Dark Mode doesn't work for some reason on Pixel 2 XL. Even when enabled I still get Light Mode.
  • Notification shade is white?
  • It's actually because I had a live wallpaper (Minima app) it forces it white theme even when you toggle it to dark
  • How's Apple doing with that dark theme?! Haha, oh yeah they don't have one lol
  • The problem here is that Google moved from Dark Theme. Apple started with Light theme and had no reason to confuse it's customers who are used to it and also know Apple loves strict control and simplicity - Anti Choice. For awhile they were ok with missing a simple option as Copy and Paste is. :)
    Android users expected in the least to have an option to change back to Dark Theme (first 4 versions had it) because that's what Google always was about - choice.
    So, we don't really need to look at Apple when it comes to Google's bull.
  • As far as I know, there is an option in iOS named 'Smart Invert', which practically turns all backgrounds to real BLACK, even while using apps like Facebook... It looks amazing!
  • Systemwide dark theme or bust!
  • Looking forward to having a dark mode in Android P. I know I'll definitely use it but it needs to be system wide including the notification shades too.
  • Why are people obsessed with dark themes? I actually prefer the light theme. It looks more modern, the darker themes feel dated. I can see the benefit in terms of it being easier on the eyes at night, but I mean just having the brightness lowered mostly takes care of that, doesn't it? I guess to each their own, no offense.
  • Eyes, especially when driving, at night, with phone in dock AND battery life.
  • If this is system wide it would be awesome. This along with improvements to Android Messages would make Android P amazing
  • Go to settings -> general -> accessibility -> vision and turn on "high contrast screen." Dark mode on Oreo and probably other versions as well.
  • Good that you can force LIGHT mode to be always on.
    I want to see my screen outside. Don't know if those people whining for a dark mode always sitting in their dark rooms at home, but those dark mode is unusable in sunlight.