(Credit: Microsoft)

Outlook.com, Microsoft's competitor to Gmail and Yahoo Mail, is about to get a dark theme for reduced eye strain at night, as spotted by The Verge. A Microsoft representative identified only as "Philip at Outlook" issued a statement on the company's UserVoice customer feedback website, said, "We've actually been working on Dark Mode for a few months now and you can expect this in the product soon."

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We originally got a glimpse of this mode as part of a Halloween celebration in October 2017, but Philip said that it has gone through several iterations since then. "The sneak preview you saw last year at Halloween was a prototype that required a lot more work to be ready for prime time. We've redesigned the colors and code multiple times and are proud to enter the final stretch."

Vampire-friendly app and web page designs have been on the rise in recent years. Twitter introduced a "night mode" in its mobile apps in 2016, and the theme came to its web browser version in September 2017. For news aggregator site Reddit, the Reddit Enhancement Suite browser add-on's night mode is so popular that its toggle is located right on the add-on's main menu. The next version of MacOS will have a dark mode at the system level.

In fact, if you want to apply a dark mode to Outlook.com now, you don't have to wait for Microsoft to add the finishing touches. It turns out that there's a growing selection of Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome add-ons that can apply a dark mode to every website that you visit. As you might expect, it doesn't always work, but it's worth checking out. Adventurous Firefox users should take a look at Dark Background with Light Text, while Chrome users might want to try Dark Reader.

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Firefox 61 also has a dark theme for the browser itself, which you can enable by clicking on the menu button in the upper right, selecting Customize, clicking on the Themes button in the lower left, and choosing Dark. Click on the Done button in the lower right to exit the Customize screen.

While dark modes can reduce eye strain at night, LEDs emitting blue light can still interfere with your sleep patterns when you go to bed later. So to complete your kit, iOS users should also take advantage of the Night Shift feature, and Android users may want to try the Twilight app.

The takeaways

  1. Outlook.com is about to be the latest major tech product to introduce a dark mode. While dark modes can reduce eye strain, you may still need a blue color filter to get a restful night's sleep.
  2. If you can't wait for Microsoft's official Outlook.com dark mode, desktop browser users can install add-ons that apply a dark mode on their own, though the results can be hit-or-miss.

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Tom is the senior editor covering Windows at Download.com.