The new macOS Mojave Dark Mode function makes all of Apple's built-in apps get the Dark Mode treatment, that is Safari, Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Reminders, Notes, Maps, Photos, Messages, FaceTime, iTunes, Apple Books, etc.

However, is it possible to selectively activate Dark Mode, i.e., only for a specific subset of apps? For instance, what if I want to keep Safari in Light Mode and turn Finder to Dark Mode instead? Am I somehow allowed to do that?

  • I really hope this becomes possible. I'd like to be able to set Terminal to Dark Mode as is done in ElementaryOS
    – J. L.
    Commented Sep 29, 2018 at 21:40
  • Is just using a dark profile in Terminal really all that different? (Yes, I know the title bar and tabs are still light, but they're not exactly prominent, especially if none of your other apps are dark.)
    – calum_b
    Commented Oct 7, 2018 at 19:15

6 Answers 6


There's a command that works for this:

defaults write <Bundle-Identifier> NSRequiresAquaSystemAppearance -bool yes

It's explained here: https://www.tekrevue.com/tip/exclude-app-dark-mode-macos-mojave/

If you don't know the app's bundle id, you can query it using AppleScript, which you can run from the command line with osascript:

osascript -e 'id of app "<App-Name>"'
  • 3
    defaults write com.apple.iTunes NSRequiresAquaSystemAppearance -bool yes didn't work for me :( macOS 10.14.4
    – n1000
    Commented Apr 22, 2019 at 19:50
  • Irony is I need to disable it for Apple script editor defaults write com.apple.ScriptEditor2 NSRequiresAquaSystemAppearance -bool yes
    – palaniraja
    Commented May 2, 2019 at 21:32
  • How do you enable the dark mode back on? This works perfectly, but I cannot switch to the entire dark mode now as some of the preferences were probably rewritten.
    – Josh E.
    Commented Nov 26, 2020 at 9:11
  • Thank you, this also works on macOS 11 (Big Sur).
    – Sky
    Commented May 5, 2021 at 19:41
  • 1
    @JoshE. it should be possible to undo the setting with: defaults delete <Bundle-Identifier> NSRequiresAquaSystemAppearance
    – Sky
    Commented May 5, 2021 at 19:42

More free options include Gray app and NightOwl. Both can be installed using Homebrew:

brew install gray
brew install nightowl
  • to me definitely the perfect solution
    – Pierre
    Commented Feb 19, 2020 at 13:14
  • What is the list item in Gray app for the mode of the menu bar? I managed to set everything except that. Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 11:04


As others have pointed out, this app seems no longer available.

I've been using LightsOff for a couple of days now, seems to work very well.

It does "switch" between modes when you open an app that you have excluded and you can actually see the switching which is a bit of a downside.

  • 1
    I'd rather prefer a build-in option for that. Anyways, this app seems to do the job. There are some bugs to be fixed though (e.g., when opening an app in Light Mode, it flashes to Dark Mode first for a fraction of second).
    – mgiordi
    Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 9:08
  • 1
    Would be nice if Apple included it but this is the closest thing I guess.
    – Dylan
    Commented Oct 8, 2018 at 12:59
  • 2
    Note that it switches the entire MacOS system to Dark Mode when the application is active, not just the specific app.
    – P A N
    Commented Sep 21, 2019 at 13:16
  • Doesn’t work anymore, Mac OS 10.15.6 (19G2021) Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 11:00
  • No longer works, and the link is dead.
    – Adam_G
    Commented Dec 14, 2021 at 21:59

Shouldn't there be a new alternative for this command based on early betas (see below):

defaults write com.apple.dt.Xcode NSWindowDarkChocolate -bool true


Using Safari 17.1 and macOS 14.1.1 (maybe working on other version but untested), you can :

  1. Right click the page and select "Inspect Element".
  2. Under "Elements" click the "Apparence" icon and you can choose "Colour scheme"

How to change apparence in Safari

This is very useful for developers when you want to test one page on a specific mode, without changing the mode of your OS.


I think the method used to enable app specific light/dark mode has been disabled in 10.14.2


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