How to Use Only a Dark Menu Bar and Dock in macOS Mojave

Posted by Jim Tanous on September 24, 2018
mojave dark menu bar dock

Back in 2014 with the release of Mac OS X Yosemite, Apple introduced a visual option to the operating system called Dark Menu Bar and Dock. Enabled via System Preferences, this option, as its name describes, turned both the menu bar at the top of the screen and the Dock from the traditional OS X white/light gray to black/dark gray.

dark menu bar dock high sierra

macOS High Sierra and earlier let you use only a dark menu bar and Dock.

The option wasn’t a full-blown “dark mode” that many users were hoping for, but it added a nice bit of contrast to some users’ desktops. Now with the release of macOS Mojave, however, Apple has introduced a full-blown dark mode, but in so doing it removed the old option to only use a dark menu bar and Dock.
mac mojave dark mode

In macOS Mojave, the new dark mode changes everything without the ability to limit it to just the menu bar and Dock.

This is an issue for some users because Mojave’s dark theme, while well-designed, may be a little bit too dark for some users. With Mojave dark theme enabled, most application windows for Apple’s own software as well as many third party apps are drenched in black and dark gray tones, presenting a visual style that some users may not like. For many users, including us, having only the dark menu bar and Dock was the perfect balance in terms of visual style and feel.
You can always revert to the more familiar “light theme,” but that makes everything “light” too, including the menu bar and Dock. There’s no option currently in System Preferences to recreate the old style with only a dark menu bar and Dock. But, thankfully, a Terminal command has come to the rescue.

Use Only Dark Menu Bar and Dock in Mojave

First, note that this is obviously an unofficial workaround to find a solution that Apple, for whatever reason, chose not to provide. As a result, you may encounter incompatibilities with certain apps or configurations. If so, follow the steps to undo the process at the end of the article.

  1. Save any open work and close any open apps. Then, if necessary, head to System Preferences > General and select Light for Appearance.
  2. macos mojave settings dark mode

  3. Launch Terminal (located in /Applications/Utilities) and enter the following command:
  4. defaults write -g NSRequiresAquaSystemAppearance -bool Yes
  5. Log out of your user account and then log back in. Now, return to System Preferences > General and select Dark for Appearance. You’ll see your menu bar and Dock switch to the Mojave Dark Mode, but everything else should stay in the traditional Light mode.
mac mojave only dark menu bar dock

A quick Terminal command restores the dark menu bar and Dock only look in Mojave.

Revert to Full Mojave Dark Mode

If you’ve used the Terminal command above to achieve dark mode for only the menu bar and Dock and later want to use the full Mojave dark mode again, you can revert the change with another Terminal command.
Just repeat the steps above, but this time use the following command instead:

defaults delete -g NSRequiresAquaSystemAppearance

After entering the command, this time reboot your Mac.

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