PDF is such a common file format that you probably work with these files often. It’s a shame, then, that not all PDF readers feature an easy-to-use dark mode.
If you have the rest of your system set up in dark mode—with light text on a dark background—opening a PDF at night could shock you with its overwhelming brightness. This is an especially annoying problem if you often read PDFs at night or for long periods of time, such as with PDF textbooks.
We’ll show you how to use Adobe Acrobat Reader in dark mode for an experience that’s easier on your eyes.
How to Use Dark Mode in Adobe Reader
To toggle dark mode for your PDFs in Adobe Acrobat Reader, follow these steps:
- Open Adobe Reader and head to Edit > Preferences (using the Ctrl + K shortcut if you wish).
- There, choose the Accessibility tab from the left sidebar.
- Next, look for the Document Colors Options section at the top. Inside this, check the Replace Document Colors checkbox, then choose the radio button for Use High-Contrast colors. Don’t choose Use Windows Color Scheme; even with dark mode enabled in Windows, this option didn’t work in our testing.
- Select White text on black from the dropdown box next to High-contrast color combination. This theme is equivalent to dark mode, and is easiest on the eyes. If you want, you can also try Green text on black, which will look like an old-school terminal.
- Now, click OK to leave the Preferences window. You should immediately see that any opened PDFs now display in dark mode. Any PDFs you view in the future will use this dark theme, too.
Note that this only affects text, so it won’t flip the colors of images and other content. This might make it tough for you to see some items on the page after the switch, so take a look around and make sure everything looks right before you leave dark mode enabled in Adobe Reader all the time.
You may need to toggle it back off depending on your file. To tweak how dark mode is applied, consider toggling either or both the two checkboxes here: Only change the color of black text or line art and Change the color of line art as well as text.
If you’re not happy with how your PDF looks in the dark theme, you can tweak the color scheme on the same Accessibility options page mentioned above. Try using the Custom Color option to set your own Page Background and Document Text colors. For example, a gray background instead of black might be easier for you to see, or reduce the distortion on certain PDFs.
And if you ever open a PDF in Adobe Reader and don’t want to use dark mode, you can turn this setting off. Just open up Edit > Preferences again and uncheck the Replace Document Colors box to remove the setting.
How to Change Adobe Reader’s Theme to Dark Mode
Aside from changing the colors of the actual PDFs, Adobe Reader includes two themes for its other elements (like the homepage and menu bar). By default, these follow your system’s theme setting, but you can change the Adobe Reader theme if it’s not displaying in dark mode automatically.
To do this, go to View > Display Theme in Adobe Reader’s top menu bar. There, you can choose from Light Gray and Dark Gray options. Dark Gray is closer to dark mode; it’s not fully black, but is the best choice for dark mode fans. If you often change your OS theme, select System Theme here.
This is independent of the option above, so you can use the dark theme for PDFs while keeping the light theme for the menu elements, if you like.
The Best Ways to Get PDFs in Dark Mode
With these two small tips, you can give Adobe Reader a decent dark mode. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than blinding yourself with bright elements across the software.
If you don’t like Adobe Reader’s dark theme, why not try another PDF reader? Some other PDF software supports dark mode, too. You can also open PDFs in your browser and use a dark mode extension to invert their colors.
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