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As the general public gravitates toward the ever-present screen on their phone versus one connected to a home desktop or laptop, there are increasing calls for ways to reduce eye strain. Late at night or early in the morning, no one wants to be blinded by a bright white mobile display every time there's a phone call to be answered or a web page to load.

In regard to the web page issue, Fossbytes spotted a recent Reddit discussion wherein a Google developer mentions that a dark mode is "in progress" for the desktop version of the Chrome browser (download for Android or iOS). Peter Kasting, a veteran company engineer commenting as "pkasting" on Reddit, was the one to bring us the news.

SEE: The best Chrome extensions to make your browser work for you

For those who aren't aware, a dark mode is more than a dark theme. Whereas a theme only affects the look of the browser interface, a dark mode would apply to all web pages as well. However, webpage design can vary wildly from one site to the next, so a one-size-fits-all solution is not easy.

Dark modes and dark themes aren't scientifically shown to actually reduce eye strain, but there's a wealth of anecdotal experience that points in that direction.

Of course, dark modes have been available in desktop web browsers for some time -- in the form of third-party extensions. For Chrome, Dark Reader is a popular choice; for Firefox, the Dark Background and Light Text extension is also frequently recommended.

If the mode doesn't process a website correctly, then some elements may be accidentally hidden from view. One example is the cursor in Google Docs (download for Android or iOS). On a white page, the cursor is black. If a dark mode makes the page black, but it doesn't change the cursor to white, then you can't see it, making typing difficult.

Most dark mode browser extensions have workarounds for quirks like this, but the results aren't as good.

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Therefore, if Google can come up with a built-in dark mode that properly recognizes situations like the cursor, then hunting for and installing a third-party extension is one less thing that you need to do to get up and running with a fresh Chrome installation.

Kasting notes that the mobile version of Chrome is handled by a separate development team, so he doesn't have info on when a dark mode is coming to the Android or iOS versions of the browser. But YouTube got this mode last year on desktop and mobile, so the momentum is there, as long as users keep expressing interest.

Takeaways

  • A Google engineer confirmed recently on Reddit that the desktop version of the Chrome browser is getting a dark mode, stating that it is "in progress."
  • A dark mode darkens web pages as well as the interface of the browser itself, but making this mode work well across all websites can be difficult because of the wide variety of ways in which a page can be designed.
  • If Chrome users don't want to wait for a native dark mode, they may want to try the popular Dark Reader extension in the meantime.

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Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.