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Automatically Switch To Light or Dark Mode in Windows 10

Recent Windows 10 versions include a native dark mode. It allows you to switch between the dark and light themes. This can be done with Settings, by changing the options located under Personalization -> Colors.  Unfortunately, Windows 10 doesn't allow you to switch its color mode automatically on a schedule. Luckily, this can be easily implemented with the help of Task Scheduler and a simple Registry tweak.

Windows 10 comes with two color schemes for Store apps. The default one is light, there is also a darker one. To apply the dark theme to your Store apps, you can use Settings. It can be enabled under Personalization - Colors. See the following screenshot:

This option is available starting with Windows 10 "Anniversary Update" version 1607.

Starting in Windows 10 Build 18282, that represents Windows 10 19H1, also known as "version 1903", you can apply the light or dark theme separately to Windows and to the Store apps. Windows now includes a new Light theme and a couple of new options under Settings > Personalization > Colors. Using them, you can apply the full light theme to the taskbar, the Start menu, and the Action Center.

By selecting the Custom option under Settings > Personalization > Colors, you will be able to set your default Windows mode and app mode individually.

Automatically Switch To Light or Dark Mode in Windows 10

As you may already know, it is possible to enable the light or dark mode for both Windows and apps with a simple Registry tweak. We have already used it for the appropriate context menus:

We can create a scheduled task for switching between both the Dark and Light themes. If you are running a Windows 10 version that supports individual Dark and Light themes for Apps and System, you can create an extra task to simultaneously switch both the System and Apps themes to the light or dark mode.

To Automatically Switch to Dark Mode in Windows 10,

  1. Open Administrative Tools.
  2. Click the Task Scheduler icon.
  3. In the Task Scheduler library, click on the Create Basic Task... link on the right.
  4. Name the task as "Switch Apps to Dark Theme".
  5. On the next page, choose Daily.
  6. Set the desired time (e.g., 8:00 PM) when you want Windows to switch automatically to the dark theme.
  7. On the next page, select Start a program.
  8. On the next page, set the following values:
    Program/Script: reg.exe
    Add arguments (optional): add HKCU\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Themes\Personalize /v AppsUseLightTheme /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f
    Start in (optional) - leave it empty.
  9. Click on the Finish button and you are done.

An extra task to automatically enable the System Dark theme

If you are running Windows 10 Build 18282 and above,

  1. Create a new basic task "Switch System to Dark Theme" as described above.
  2. On the "Start a program" page, use the following parameters.
    Program/Script: reg.exe
    Add arguments (optional): add HKCU\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Themes\Personalize /v SystemUsesLightTheme /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f
    Start in (optional) - leave it empty.
  3. You now have two tasks: Switch System to Dark Theme to switch the taskbar, the Start menu, and the Action center to the dark mode, and the Switch Apps to Dark Theme task to switch the default Apps theme to Dark.

You are done. Now you can test your scheduled task(s). Set the light theme in Settings, then right-click your task in Task Scheduler and select Run from the context menu. Your Windows should immediately go dark!

To Automatically Switch to Light Mode in Windows 10,

  1. Create a new basic task named "Switch Apps to Light Theme".
  2. On the "Start a program" page, use the following parameters.
    Program/Script: reg.exe
    Add arguments (optional): add HKCU\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Themes\Personalize /v AppsUseLightTheme /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f
    Start in (optional) - leave it empty.
  3. Schedule it to the time when you want Windows 10 to switch to the Light color scheme.
  4. If you are running Windows 10 Build 18282 and above, create an extra task to switch the System theme to Light using the following parameters:
    Program/Script: reg.exe
    Add arguments (optional): add HKCU\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Themes\Personalize /v SystemUsesLightTheme /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f
    Start in (optional) - leave it empty.

You are done! Now, Windows 10 will automatically switch to the light or dark theme according to your schedule.

That's it.

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11 thoughts on “Automatically Switch To Light or Dark Mode in Windows 10

  1. Sargon

    I find this article very useful, as I’ve been looking for a way to create a registry modifying task for a while.
    I have a question though.
    How would you go about changing a String value (Reg_SZ) instead of Dword?
    Here are the two ways I’ve tried to do it, but I get an 0x1 error.

    add HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System /v Wallpaper /t REG_SZ /d “C:\Path with spaces\6.jpg” /f

    add HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System /v Wallpaper /t REG_SZ /d C:\Path with spaces\6.jpg /f

    I’ll keep trying to solve this myself, but if anyone has any ideas, it would be great.

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      You need to create a task with highest privileges available (there is a checkbox for that, enable it).

      Reply
      1. Sargon

        Yeah I’ve just tried that and it seems to work. Strangely it still seems to show (0x1) as a result, however it does work, so thank you!

        Reply
        1. Sargon

          Ok, I ran it again and now it’s (0x0).
          Thank you again for introducing me to reg.exe, before this article I thought I’d have to try and create a task that would run a .reg file or something.

          Reply
  2. Lasse Kristensen

    Hi.
    First great guide! I´ve been looking for that auto switch mode, but I have to admit.

    TYPICAL Microsoft to make it THAT hard and complicated to get a simple light/dark time switch to work.

    It should have been built in settings where you change dark/light mode. With a simple “radio button” time switch on/off and time setting input, like where you just set a clock timer.

    Lasse

    Reply
  3. LifeWulf

    Thank you so much for this article, can’t believe it’s March 2020 and Windows 10 STILL doesn’t have an auto-switch for the theme! Even though I only use Windows on my desktop that doesn’t ever move, so I don’t need to worry much about legibility in direct sunlight, I’ve got my phone and work computer switching between light and dark automatically so figured I’d get my PC in the fun too!

    Reply
  4. Aanand Kainth

    Thanks for the article; I would’ve hard a hard time figuring out reg.exe on my own. I would, however, like to add that you can just add two actions to the same task instead of creating specific tasks for each registry key.

    Reply
  5. Manuel Diaz

    Thank you! It is now June 2021 and Microsoft still hasn’t implemented the auto dark mode. Your instructions are clear and working!

    Reply

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