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How To: Force-Enable Dark Mode in Gmail for Android Right Now

Dark mode is finally rolling out for Gmail on Android. But this is a Google product, so you already know it’ll be a while before the server-side update hits most devices. Sideloading the newest APK doesn’t work, neither does switching accounts. But if you’re rooted, you can enable dark mode by modifying a simple XML.

Start by opening your favorite root-enabled file browser. You’ll need one that has a built-in text editor. If yours doesn’t, we recommend Solid Explorer. Once you’re squared away, head to the following folder from the root partition on your device:

Once inside, long-press the FlagPrefs.xml file, then tap the three-dot menu button in the bottom-right and choose “Open with.” From there, select the SE Text Editor on the prompt.

Now you’ll need to find the following line. It should be the second line in the XML, but if not, you can use the “Find” feature in SE Text Editor’s overflow menu to search for it:

The “false” at the end is why you don’t already have dark mode. So change that to read “true” instead. When you’re done, tap the save icon near the top-right corner.

Now, just force-stop and reopen the Gmail app. Head to the “Settings” option in the side navigation menu and select “General Settings.” From there, the first option should be “Theme.” Select “Dark” here, or if you’re on Android 10 with the system-wide dark mode enabled, you can choose “System Default” to have Gmail match your phone’s dark mode status.

We’ve heard that some people aren’t seeing the above option after editing the XML, though we’re not sure why it doesn’t work for everyone. It could be this requires Android 9 or higher, or perhaps your system language needs to be set to US English. You should also be running Gmail version 2019.08.18.267044774 or higher.

But for most people, the above trick should work. Now you should be looking at a dark gray version of Gmail with Material Design 2 elements. It’s definitely sharp!

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