Jake Trent

Respect OS Dark Mode in JavaScript

Here are a couple methods to the OS dark theme within JavaScript.

Respecting the user's OS theme color is something that more websites should do. It's magical when it works.

How many of you sit for hours looking at a dark terminal window while the bright white browser window blazes next to it, burning a white spot into your vision? What if they both matched based on the OS preference!

macos color preference

CSS Dark Mode

CSS supports color mode changing through prefers-color-scheme. It's accomplished as a media query. For instance, here's how you'd default to a light theme background and then support a dark theme as well:

:root {
  --bg: #F0F3F5;

@media (prefers-color-scheme: dark) {
  :root {
    --bg: #181C20;

body {
  background-color: var(--bg);

prefers-color-scheme in JavaScript

Now, how might we get that in vanilla JavaScript? Since window.matchMedia exists for querying media queries, we can do a similar query:

import { canUseDOM } from 'exenv'

if (canUseDOM) {
  const prefersDark =
    window.matchMedia('(prefers-color-scheme: dark)').matches

  document.body.style.background = prefersDark ? '#181C20' : '#F0F3F5'

We only do a canUseDOM check so that our JS remains server-renderable. It might be overkill for this example.

prefers-color-scheme in React

We could do this in React as well with something like a Theme provider.

import { canUseDOM } from 'exenv'
import * as React from 'react'
import { render } from 'react-dom'

const prefersDark =
  canUseDOM && window.matchMedia('(prefers-color-scheme: dark)').matches
const ThemeContext = React.createContext({ name: prefersDark ? 'dark' : 'light' })

function Parent() {
    <Child />

function Child() {
  const theme = React.useContext(ThemeContext)

  return <div style={{
    backgroundColor: theme.name === 'dark' ? '#181C20' : '#F0F3F5'

render(<Parent />, document.getElementById('app'))

How else have you respected this value in JavaScript?