How to Turn on Facebook Messenger’s Secret ‘Dark Mode’

Facebook Messenger Icon on dark iPhone screen Credit: charnsitr / Shutterstock
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While it seems very likely that a system-wide “Dark Mode” will be arriving with iOS 13 later this year, many developers have grown tired of waiting for Apple to darken things up and have taken matters into their own hands.

Facebook Messenger is the newest mainstream app to buck the trend and offer a dark mode for iPhone users, yet at this point, the social media company has obviously decided it’s not quite ready for prime-time, having instead buried it as a sort of “easter egg” within the UI.

To be clear, apps offering their own dark modes is nothing new — even before the release of the iPhone X in 2017 with its true black OLED display, dark mode apps were popular on the App Store. However, the darker UI has mostly been confined to a collection of the more traditionally polished apps by popular “boutique” developers, such as Cultured Code’s Things task manager, Shiny Frog’s Bear note-taking app, and Day One’s eponymous journalling app.

In fact, after the debut of the iPhone X, Apple even went so far as to highlight a collection of dark mode apps in an App Store feature titled, “Does This App Come in Black?”

How to Enable Dark Mode in Facebook Messenger

Most apps have been pretty upfront about their dark modes, but at this point, Facebook clearly wants to make you work for it.

Facebook Messenger includes nothing to even advertise the existence of a dark mode at this point, however a lucky user on Reddit clearly stumbled across it over the weekend and shared the details. If you’re a Facebook Messenger user who wants to go dark, follow these steps to uncover the switch:

Facebook Messenger Dark Mode Setup
  1. Send a single message to anybody (even yourself) with the moon emoji (🌙).
  2. Tap on the moon emoji in the chat after you send it.
  3. A cascade of moons will rain down over your chat screen.
  4. A message should appear at the top revealing that you’ve found dark mode with a button to go the app’s settings in order to turn it on.
  5. In the Facebook Messenger Settings, you should see a switch at the top to enable Dark Mode.
  6. If this didn’t work, try force-closing your Messenger app and try again.

Learn More: 11 Hidden Things You Didn’t Know Google Search Could Do

It’s Not Working for Me?

Comments on Reddit also suggest that this trick may not yet be working for everybody.

  • This trick presumably requires the latest version of the Facebook Messenger app. Make sure your app is updated.
  • Try force-closing and restarting the app, or log out of Facebook Messenger and then back in. The Dark Mode setting should appear.

Others have reported no success at all, suggesting that Facebook may only have enabled it for a specific set of users as a staged rollout or for A/B testing.

Once the feature is unlocked, the switch will remain in the app’s settings and you can toggle back and forth between dark and light modes as often as you like.

Note also that step 2 — tapping on the icon — may not be required. In our case, the feature was unlocked as soon as we sent the moon icon.

It’s also worth mentioning that the feature is unlocked within the local Facebook Messenger app, rather than in the user’s Facebook account. This means that you’ll need to go through the above steps on each of your devices where you want to see dark mode, and you’ll need to repeat the steps above if you delete and reinstall the Facebook Messenger app on your iPhone — at least until Facebook decides to unlock the feature and make it public.

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