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I am using the “Preview” application for reading a PDF file on a MacBook Pro. Is there any way in I can read it in dark mode?

You can do it in Adobe Acrobat Reader by changing background and text color, but can “Preview” do that too?

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I had the same problem so I wrote simple and free app for Mac to read PDFs in negative. App offers two negative modes (colour inversion and colour inversion with sepia).

It is called Negative and it is free on the Mac App Store

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  • Very nice! I'm not sure how PDFs are encoded, but it would be great if you would skip the color inversion for photos. – Matthew Oct 13 '18 at 15:46
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    And also a dark mode toolbar :) – Matthew Oct 13 '18 at 15:47
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    Thanks so muchi, been looking for something like that for ages. I would happily pay for Negative too, to sustain development ;-) @Matthew you can toggle dark mode via the View menu, although support for macOS native dark mode would be appreciated. – cseelus Dec 13 '18 at 22:10
  • Wow, that was nice, awesome work :) – CopsOnRoad Nov 24 '19 at 18:19
  • Nice work! thanks Krystian – iamaziz Jun 12 at 6:00
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While there is not an inverted color scheme for Preview, you can invert the screen colors for the entire system by pressing

Command-Option-Control-8

Press the sequence again to restore the default color scheme.

enable inverted colors accessibility option shortcut

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    If that key combo does not work, check that it's enabled under System preferences / Keyboard / Shortcuts / Accessibility. Also, Command-Option-F5 could be used (if that shortcut is enabled) to bring up the accessibility options control menu, and invert the display through that. – AndOs Aug 10 '19 at 22:13
  • This was super helpful to me -- thanks you! – Rob Apr 18 at 23:25
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I use Adobe PDF Reader to read PDF books. In Preferences > Accessibility > Document Colors Options I set "Replace Document Colors" and "Custom Color". Page Background: black and Document Text: a ordinary dark grey.

So my default PDF reader is Preview with regular color, but I open PDF books with customized Adobe Reader.

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  • Thanks for the tip, this does the trick pretty well – Jerome Dalbert Jan 8 '19 at 5:10
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There is not a dark mode for preview.

You can use the flux software to at least bring the color warmth up and brightness down. It makes the whole OS easier on the eyes at night.

In another hand, there is iBooks which, I think, have a dark mode.

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    iBooks has a dark mode, but you can't read PDFs directly in iBooks on Mac. It just opens them in Preview. – calum_b Mar 11 '18 at 16:24
  • Oh I didn’t know, never used iBook on Mac but on iOS – Chris Mar 11 '18 at 20:08
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You can use the system preferences sections: Accessibility to invert your display colours. That's not focussed on preview, but does the trick.

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PDF Expert (Free | $80)

enter image description here

This is by far the best solution I've come across for reading PDF files in dark mode. It has a sepia mode as well, which is a nice plus. It works on images by making them grayscale and then inverting them.

  • I tried Negative, and it was horrible in terms of performance. PDF Expert is so smooth, it feels like a native macOS app.
  • I also have Acrobat, but using it for night mode feels kind of "hacky." Its performance is not great, and its price is quite hefty. PDF Expert on the there hand has a dedicated night mode, which works and looks better than Acrobat's night mode. PDF Expert has a hefty price, but you get the night mode with the free version.
  • Using the invert mode on macOS disables Night Shift and True Tone. Those are the last things that I want to disable at nighttime (which is usually when I want to read PDFs in dark mode). It also inverts color images, which looks pretty bad in my opinion. PDF Expert does it much better.

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Readdle or PDF Expert. I just think it works much better than any of the other options mentioned here.

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    You're right, night mode works really well with PDF Expert, thanks for the suggestion. – Gabriel Romon Jul 22 at 6:31
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I'm a bit late to the answers here, but if someone is still looking for an answer here I've found somewhat reasonable solution(s) to this problem. I've tried the other solutions mentioned, but none of them worked well enough for me.

1st Solution : (General Solution across platforms)

Install the extension Midnight Lizard on chrome based browsers and then give it the privileges to local files. This extension is primarily for changing the color(s) on an html page.

However, since many browsers today support opening pdf documents, this extension works really well. There are different color schemes you can use to change the colors in the pdf document and you have a lot of customizations. However, a downside to it, is that the page scrolling/ zooming is really slow.

Note : Although this extension is available also on firefox, this ability to invert colors on local files is currently (as of writing of this answer) is only restricted to chrome.


2nd Solution : (Mac based solution)

Create a dark version of your pdf to view with preview. You can use imagemagick to invert the colors in your pdf document.

  1. Open Terminal
  2. Change to the directory of the files
  3. Execute the following command:

</>

convert -density 150 -channel RGB -negate "source-file.pdf" "output-file.pdf"

The density is your dpi, so you can adjust it according to your need.

This method saves you invert colors for the whole OS, which is just absurd. However, it does have a small disadvantage. During this conversion, the pdf pages are converted to images or scans. Thus, you lose the ability to copy/ select text. If you want to annotate your text, you can annotate with a line tool instead of a marker.

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0

You can try zathura. Open the pdf with zathura, and hit C-r to revert the color.

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