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Understanding Emails in Dark Mode for Apple (and Optimizing it)

Looking to wrap your head around Apple’s dark mode? This blog has got you covered!...

[This post was originally published on 25th Oct 2021. It has been updated on 14th Oct 2022.]

The dark mode is one of the most visibly prominent features in Apple’s Mac Operating system, Mojave. It is considered to be one of the most radical changes that Apple’s interface has undergone in its operating system since the inception of Mac OS X in 2001.

Dark mode, as the name itself suggests is a setting that transforms the complete view in a negative visual. To put it in other words, it changes the color of the text from the usual black to white. Therefore, instead of seeing black text on a white or grey background, you see the grey text on a black background.

This unique feature might be helpful for people who work late at night because of the less light that it assails. However, white text on a black background can be problematic for many. And, with Apple updating this feature throughout its system apps including Apple mail, it also affects the way the Apple users see your emails. Here’s what the Apple  dark mode means for your numerous emails.

1. Text Emails

In dark mode, the regular text emails and rich text emails are shown in dark mode by default. In fact, even when you include an image, the text appears in a light color on a dark background. Apple mail has a tendency to adjust font colors. This, in turn, transforms the white text into black and vice versa.

2. HTML Emails

While most of the HTML emails are displayed in light mode by default, the Apple mail converts the HTML emails into Apple dark mode if they do not include any images.

Here’s a screenshot to help you understand better.

HTML Emails

Therefore, you see how Apple dark mode can change the way its users see and perceive your emails. If you want to give your subscribers using dark mode a smooth email experience, it is high time you optimize your emails for the same.

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However, before we dig deep into various optimization ways, let’s clear certain misconceptions and myths regarding Apple mail dark mode.

· Inverted Colors Are Not Dark Mode

Inverted colors are different from dark mode. Though an inverted mode supports light-colored text on a dark background and facilitates the best readability for the users, it is nothing like dark mode. In fact, even Windows comes with a high contrast mode to uplift the overall user experience. However, it is nothing like the Apple mail dark mode.

· Incognito Is Also Not Dark Mode

Incognito is a web browser feature that allows you to go for private browsing. To differentiate it from regular browsing, a lot of browsers change the background to a dark one (usually black). It might appear dark but it in no way accounts for a dark mode.

Having cleared all the myths surrounding the Apple mail dark mode, the next step is to find ways for easy optimization of dark mode for emails. While there is no option to target dark mode specifically, there are a few alternative ways that can help you do the needful and give your customers a high-end email experience. Take a look.

1. Experimenting With Background Colors

You can optimize your subscriber’s Mac mail dark mode reading experience by experimenting with the background colors of your email. It can be done by including any background color that’s not white and would work in a visually appealing way irrespective of the environment being light or dark.

2. Using An Accessibility Switcher

Another great way of dark mode optimization is by making extensive use of an accessibility switcher. It makes use of web kit targeting to allow users to switch between a light and dark design seamlessly. With 42% of the global market share, the Apple mail can be optimized through simple coding using the accessibility switcher. All you need to do is make use of a checkbox that transforms the text color and background style depending on whether it is being toggled or not. Such interaction is supported not only in Apple mail but also in iOs Mail and Outlook for Mac. Here’s a quick look at the Dark Mode Colors of Mac OS Mojave:

  1. Background: #2d2d2d
  2. Text Color: #dfdfdf
  3. Link Color: #1b89ef

Do you know what’s special about the values above? Well, these can quickly help you build an interactive switcher that transforms your design in a way that it uses the background of #2d2d2d while matching Mac mail’s dark mode design. In fact, it even allows making use of the standard text colors that dark mode uses while giving your subscribers a seamless reading experience.

3. Designing Images For Dark Mode Email

If you want to add an image to an HTML email template that has been coded in the dark mode, try using separators and dividers as much as possible. In the absence of these features, some of your templates can end up having a really inconsistent design language. Additionally, steer clear of adding images that match the background color. Instead, try to use transparent PNGs. 

4. Designing Logos For Email Dark Mode

Want to design logos that are compatible with both dark and light modes? Your best bet, then, is to create two versions of it. Add a stroke to the version that is meant for light mode. This will serve two purposes-

  • In the light mode, the image will merge perfectly with the background color.
  • Should the email client fail to support Dark Mode, the stroke will ensure that your logo stands out nonetheless.

For the version that you’re designing specifically for Mac mail dark mode, you can opt for a color that’ll contrast well against a dark background. To avoid complications, many brands keep their dark version logo all-white only.

5. Designing Text For HTML Email Dark Mode

While designing for mail dark mode, it is a good practice to make use of live text rather than using text in images. Doing so allows you to considerably improve your email deliverability and accessibility. If at all you’re considering overlaying black text over a white background as an image, we’d recommend that you use a transparent PNG with a stroke around the text so that it blends well with the background when the email is in the default light mode.

Now, since you know how to optimize your emails for the dark mode, take a sneak peek on how it can help you extract the most out of your subscribers.

1. Facilitates High Level Of Personalization

As a marketer, it helps you get an insight into the subscriber’s choice of choosing a mode. You can easily decipher whether they use a light or dark mode through proper optimization. It happens when your ESP stores the theme preference of the subscribers and optimizes it for all the future emails that you will send to your subscribers, thereby making their overall email experience worthwhile.

2. Prioritizes Customer Preferences

Since it facilitates a high level of personalization, it has the ability to prioritize customer experience by taking their preferences into account. This serves as a great way of satisfying customers while enticing them to open and click-through your email. And, we all know how it can trigger your sales and revenue to an altogether new level.

3. Improves User Experience

It has been observed that dark mode and darker interfaces in general help users with low vision, or those suffering from cataracts and similar afflictions, to engage better with their devices. Additionally, it has also been found that reading for prolonged periods in lighter environments can possibly lead to myopia or nearsightedness. 

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Wrapping It Up

In conclusion, creating a light/dark theme switcher within your email helps you to optimize your email strategy, irrespective of whether you’re implementing your campaign on Apple Mail, Outlook, Google mail dark mode, or just about any other client. Moreover, it is not only a reasonable investment but comes with options of scalability too. Therefore, if you want to stay ahead in the competition and not just be another mediocre or good company, go for dark mode optimization and see how you emerge as the best out of the best. We hope our article today has given you the requisite clarity regarding how to design for dark mode. Remember, giving a perfect email experience to your customers is not a luxury but a necessity that you need to take care of.

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    Kevin George

    Kevin is the Head of Marketing at Email Uplers, one of the fastest-growing full-service email marketing companies. He is an email enthusiast at heart and loves to pen down email marketing content. You can reach him at or connect with him on LinkedIn.



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