When a new operating system comes around, there are always wish lists and gripes lists. While I don't have too many complaints about Windows 11 (I'm a chill person, sorry), one thing I do wish it had was the ability to switch between light and dark themes based on … whatever I want.
Luckily, the open-source community has responded with an app simply called Auto Dark Mode. The app has been out for some time with Windows 10, but a new branch on GitHub, dubbed Auto Dark Mode X, is now available. The notes mention "rewritten … from scratch to introduce new background service for more reliable theme switching and extensibility.
So, what's the big deal with this app? As you may have figured out, it can switch between Windows 11 dark and light modes based on various environmental cues. You could default to have it switch to dark mode at sunset and light mode at sunrise, or set it based on your latitude and longitude for even more accuracy. If you have a specific hour you want it to switch, you can do that too.
Perhaps my favorite feature is that you can switch modes based on your AC/DC connection status — unplug and make your OLED Windows PC switch to dark mode to save some extra battery life.
What I think makes this app so great is the sheer number of options. You can:
- Specify wallpaper for different modes even per display if you run a multi-monitor setup
- Delay switching if your GPU crosses a specified threshold for usage, i.e., you're gaming
- Override the mode through a right-click on the app in Taskbar overflow
- Force app theme, separate from the system theme
- Separately configure Microsoft Office themes
- App auto-updates with auto-installs and option for no notification
- Opt-in for beta builds or stay in stable
I've been using the app for the last few days, and it's been perfect. I run light mode during the day, but around 5 PM, it auto-switches to the Windows 11 dark theme without a hitch. I've specified the Surface Pro 8 to do the same, but go to the dark theme instead if unplugged.
The app is free, open-source, doesn't collect data, and in a new twist, even available in the Microsoft Store for Windows 11 (search for "Auto Dark Mode"). Of course, if you like it, you can send the developer (Armin Osaj) a few dollars if you think it's worth it, which I do.
One hopes that Microsoft will build this functionality into Windows 11 eventually, but until we know they are, you can at least use this app and enjoy it today instead of waiting.