(Credit: Screenshots: Tom McNamara/Download.com)

Over the years, we've seen a number of features get integrated into web browsers that formerly required a separate add-on, like password management, syncing and search engine queries. Meanwhile, the past couple years have seen the rise of "dark modes" within apps and on web pages. This mode creates a dark background that may reduce eye strain at night.

A number of mobile web browsers already have a dark mode built in, like Firefox for iOS or the Samsung Internet Browser for Android, while desktop browsers can use add-ons like Dark Reader or Dark Background and Light Text. But despite Chrome's overwhelming dominance (or perhaps because of it), Google hasn't been eager to bake this mode into its browsers -- until now.

SEE: 5 tips and tricks for Mozilla Firefox on Android and iPhones

Android Police spotted an update today for the "Canary" test version of Google Chrome for Android which now adds a dark mode for web pages. Some apps have a dark mode that only applies to the interface, but the opposite is the case here, for now: In Canary, web pages can be darkened for easier viewing, but the interface still uses a "light" mode.

To enable dark mode in the Android version of Canary, tap the address bar and type chrome://flags to open the browser's list of experimental features. Then in the search box, type dark, then tap the drop-down menu underneath the "Android web contents dark mode" search result, change the option to Enabled, then tap the Relaunch Now button that pops up in the lower right.

The current lack of a dark mode for the interface itself is not that surprising, because Canary is an experimental test bed that's in constant flux by design. Presumably, a new Canary version will come along soon with a dark interface option as well as a dark web page option.

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(The desktop version of Chrome can apply a dark interface at any time, via its theming system. Firefox has a built-in dark theme that you can apply using the Customize tool listed in the hamburger menu)

Note that installing Canary will not replace your current version of Google Chrome. Instead, it can run as a separate app, even while you're using regular Chrome. But if you log into your Google account within Canary, it will still sync your Chrome bookmarks, tabs, and browsing history.


  • Google has released an update for the "Canary" test version of its Chrome browser for Android, and it can now display web pages using a built-in "dark mode."
  • Dark modes create a dark background that may reduce eye strain at night.

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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.