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The Ultimate Guide to Enabling Soothing Dark Mode on TikTok for iPhone

As an avid TikTok scroller, have you ever squinted at your phone late at night as the bright white background pierces your tired eyes? Or frowned at low battery notifications interrupting your endless video feed binges?

Well my fellow TikTokers, I come bearing excellent news. There is a simple setting that solves both of those issues to improve your overall viewing experience:

Dark mode!

In this comprehensive guide from a long-time iOS developer and technology writer, we’ll explore everything you need to know about activating and customizing dark mode for TikTok on iPhone.

Here’s an overview of what we’ll cover:

  • What is dark mode and why use it?
  • Step-by-step instructions to enable dark mode in the TikTok app or sync it with iOS
  • Customizing dark mode’s appearance to your liking
  • Recent iOS 16 dark mode updates like Live Captions
  • Comparing TikTok’s implementation on iOS vs Android
  • Developer commentary on the technical challenges of supporting dark mode
  • Pro tips for getting the most out of dark mode based on years of expertise

Let’s get started with an overview of the core benefits of embracing the dark side…

Why Use Dark Mode on iPhone and TikTok?

Before we dig into the step-by-step setup tutorial, I want to share some research-backed reasons why activating dark mode can level up your iPhone and TikTok experience:

Reduced Eye Strain

Staring at bright screens in dark rooms leads to substantial eye fatigue over time. Studies have shown that smartphone use in the dark is linked to disrupted sleep patterns and circadian rhythms.

The high contrast between bright backgrounds and dark text forces your eyes to continually refocus. Dark mode flips that contrast, making the background darker and text lighter.

According to researchers, this more closely matches natural outdoor lighting conditions late at night. The reduced eye strain leads to less headaches and improved ability to fall asleep.

Longer Battery Life

Displaying darker colors on LED smartphone screens requires notably less battery and processing power compared to illuminating brighter hues and whites.

Tests have recorded upwards of a 30% power efficiency improvement when using dark mode versus light mode.

For avid TikTok addicts, that could mean the difference between needing to recharge mid-day versus having your phone last into the evening hours.

Enhanced Asthetics

While the ergonomic and battery gains are excellent incentives to enable dark mode, many users simply find it more visually appealing.

The clean, deep contrast can feel easier on the eyes for some. And TikTok’s subtle blue accents really “pop” against the black backdrop.

Ultimately, the choice between light or dark mode comes down to personal preference. But the battery and eyestrain benefits make dark mode the sensible default for evening TikTok browsing sessions.

And if you want to enable dark mode to check it out but don’t end up liking it, switching back takes just a few taps.

Now that you know why to use dark mode, let’s jump into instructions for activating it…

Enabling Dark Mode in the TikTok App

If you just want to quickly try dark mode, activating it directly within the iOS TikTok app takes less than 15 seconds:

  1. Launch TikTok and tap your Profile Icon in bottom right corner
  2. Tap the Menu Icon (3 lines) in top right corner
  3. Choose Settings and Privacy > Display
  4. Toggle ON the Dark Mode switch

And that’s it! The background color scheme will instantly change to dark without losing any functionality or content.

Here are GIF walkthroughs of each step:

![Tapping profile icon GIF walkthrough]

![Opening side menu GIF walkthrough]

![Navigating to Display Settings GIF walkthrough]

![Toggling Dark Mode ON GIF walkthrough]

Pretty straightforward, right? But what if you want dark mode to automatically turn on and off based on a schedule? Read on for that superior setup…

Syncing Dark Mode with Your iPhone’s System Theme

Instead of having to continually open TikTok to manually toggle dark mode on and off, you can set it to automatically match your iPhone system theme at any given moment.

Here are the steps:

  1. Open Settings > Display & Brightness
  2. Enable Automatic system theme changes
  3. Choose your preferred Light and Dark mode times

This will make your entire iPhone interface switch between light and dark mode on the schedule you picked.

Then head back into the TikTok app’s display settings:

  1. Tap your profile icon
  2. Open the side menu
  3. Choose Settings and privacy > Display

And turn on the “Use device settings” option:

Now TikTok will match whatever color scheme your iPhone is using at any time of day or night.

So when dark mode activates system-wide on your chosen schedule, TikTok will flip to dark mode automatically at the same time.

And if you want to temporarily override the schedule, just access the new dark mode shortcut in Control Center for quick on-the-fly changes.

Thisautomation makes it delightful andeasy to embrace dark mode without the tediousness of constantly togglingit manually.

Next, let’s explore how you can customize the appearance of dark mode to your personal preferences…

Customizing Dark Mode’s Appearance on iPhone

The default dark mode look may be perfect for your tastes as is. But iOS provides various display settings to help customize the aesthetics and readability if desired:

Text Size

Navigate to Settings > Display & Brightness and drag the Text Size slider left or right to shrink or enlarge all text:

[Demo increasing TikTok text size GIF]

This boosts readability for those who struggle with smaller fonts.

Color Temperature

You can also adjust the tone of dark mode’s background using the Color Temperature setting:

[Demo shifting temperature warmer GIF]

Warming up the hue reduces eye strain for some users.

Scheduling Options

For advanced scheduling beyond the sunset to sunrise default, try an app like Shifter which lets you set location-based triggers, gradual transitions, and other rich rules.


iOS 16 expanded dark mode customization even further with the ability to set different home screen wallpapers for both light and dark system appearances.

This lets you theme TikTok and your whole iPhone to feel cohesive.

Play around with various color schemes to discover your favorite TikTok dark mode configuration. The ability to fine tune it to your aesthetic and ergonomic preferences makes the experience even better.

Speaking of iOS customization improvements…

iOS 16 Enhances Dark Mode Further

The latest iPhone software update — iOS 16 — elevated the system-wide dark mode capabilities even higher across Apple’s native apps. Many of these new features integrate beautifully with TikTok‘s dark scheme as well thanks to the sync settings.

Some prominent dark mode additions that TikTok dwellers will benefit from including:

  • Customizable Lock Screen – iOS 16 enables setting unique wallpapers for the lock screen when in light or dark mode. You can make TikTok open to a themed backdrop!

  • Live Captions – The new embedded subtitles auto-generate for videos across iOS. And they shift to an optimal white text on black background appearance when dark mode is active. Very handy for watching TikTok without sound!

  • Wallet and Apple Pay – Even mundane things like digital cards and passes now adapt to light or dark modes for a clean cohesive interface.

  • Weather App – The refreshed Weather app rolled out in iOS 16 dynamically shifts between serene light and dark modes to match external conditions and system theme.

As you can see, Apple pulled out all the stops to make dark mode a seamless experience across the entire iPhone ecosystem.

And thankfully, it takes just seconds to activate dark mode specifically within TikTok thanks to the deep iOS integration.

But how does TikTok‘s dark mode support actually stack up against competitors? Let‘s compare…

How TikTok Dark Mode Compares to Other Platforms

Across social media apps and mobile operating systems, dark mode implementation quality varies wildly. How does TikTok on iOS measure up to the competition?


Unfortunately, Android users currently have no official way to enable dark mode on TikTok.

The setting simply doesn‘t exist yet in the Android app. And the Android OS dark mode toggle does not influence TikTok‘s scheme.

This confusing inconsistency results in lots of annoyed Android-using TikTok fans. My sources at TikTok say this gap boils down to higher iOS development priorities and technical challenges…

But more on that later!


Instagram offers robust dark mode support across iOS and Android. But the customization capabilities fall short of TikTok’s experience on iOS.

For example, you can‘t independently schedule light and dark themes. It‘s a binary on/off manual switch only.

And instead of cleanly shifting background colors, some icons and elements look out of place or inconsistent against the darker backdrop.

So TikTok on iOS elegantly executes dynamic theming in a much more polished fashion.


YouTube nails dark mode on all platforms with flawless integration and aesthetics. TikTok still has a ways to go catch YouTube in cross-platform flexibility and customization breadth.

But TikTok deserves props for the beautifully executed iOS implementation at least! It enhances the consumption experience incredibly on iPhones.

So why does TikTok seem to struggle bringing consistently excellent dark mode support to Android? As an app developer myself, let‘s analyze some likely reasons…

Developer Commentary on the Technical Challenges

Based on my professional mobile engineering experience, here is some insider commentary on why enabling flawless dark mode on TikTok poses substantial technical and design difficulties:

  • Adapting so many animated elements – transitions, overlays, stickers – demands rebuilding much of the visual code from the ground up. Things like semi-transparent stickers require meticulous testing against light AND dark backdrops.

  • The filters rely heavily on machine learning and neural networks. Changing backgrounds means re-training those AI models on dark mode content samples. Gathering quality dark mode media at scale takes enormous effort.

  • Android fragmentation makes quality control enormously burdensome. Ensuring a flawless dark mode experience on so many thousands of device models with varying specs could require a miniature phone farm!

  • Approving App Store updates also introduces latency, despite Apple‘s dark mode APIs streamlining some integration legwork. Rigorously testing every iOS version is similarly non-trivial.

  • Resources are no doubt being funneled more heavily into other initiatives like platform expansion and content moderation. As a start-up, you have to strategically prioritize limited engineering bandwidth.

In summary – supporting both Android AND iOS with a polished system-wide dark mode requires ongoing resource allocation across many company divisions.

As an iPhone user, I’m grateful they prioritized iOS consistency first. But Android folks have a right to feel impatient as they anxiously await dark mode parity!

In the interim, I recommend Android users manually adjust brightness settings lower or try night mode extensions like Dark Reader for TikTok.

Fortunately for us iPhone scrollers, the iOS synchronization makes enabling dark mode an absolute breeze…

Pro Tips for Unlocking Dark Mode‘s Full Potential

Before we wrap up, I want to leave you with a few pro tips from my many years testing and designing iPhone apps to truly unlock dark mode‘s full benefits:

  • Switch to dark mode at least 30 minutes before bedtime – This allows your eyes and brain to wind down before sleep.

  • Use dark mode for 2+ hours per day to notice the battery efficiency gains.

  • Dim your screen to below 50% brightness when dark mode is enabled for maximum eyestrain reduction.

  • Try a “Dark Amber” color temperature for warmer hues that reduce blue light exposure.

  • Use dark mode whenever your phone drops below 20% battery to conserve power.

I‘m confident the knowledge in this guide empowers you to get the most mileage from the transformative dark mode update. Let me know in the comments if you have any other questions!

Summary of Key Takeaways

Here‘s a quick recap of core concepts we covered related to unlocking TikTok‘s dark mode superpowers on iPhone:

  • What dark mode is and why use it
  • Instructions to enable in TikTok or sync system-wide
  • Customizing aesthetics and text sizing to your preference
  • Recent dark mode improvements in iOS 16
  • How TikTok iOS compares to competitors like YouTube and Instagram
  • Developer insights on the technical challenges
  • Pro tips to maximize eye, battery, and customization benefits

I hope this detailed walkthrough helped demonstrate how enabling dark mode can seriously improve your evening TikTok browsing sessions.

As both a long-time iPhone user and app designer myself, I‘m impressed by the seamless integration and customization capabilities baked right into iOS. TikTok made smart use of all those accessibility APIs for a phenomenal dark mode implementation.

Let me know which settings you tweak or if have any other questions down below!