MacVectorTip: macOS Dark Mode and forcing MacVector to open in Light Mode

Dark Mode makes it easier to stay focused on your work because your content stands out while darkened controls and windows recede into the background”

If you use Dark Mode with the Auto setting, then with the short winter days in the northern hemisphere (for our southern hemisphere friends please save this email for six months!) you will be spending a lot more time in Dark mode than those long summer days.


Using Dark Mode is a very different user experience and may not be to every user’s taste. For example as can be seen in the screenshot above plasmid maps with dark backgrounds can be a little “odd” at first. So if you like working with Dark Mode, but would prefer MacVector to use Light Mode then read on.

You have always been able to change this with a command line to change the preferences. However, in the last minor release (MacVector 18.5.1) we exposed this setting in the MacVector Preferences so you do not need to use Terminal.

To force MacVector to always open in Light Mode

This new setting is in MacVector | Settings | General | Always use Aqua


You will need to restart MacVector.

If you are using an older version then you can still do this from the command line.

  • close MacVector
  • type or copy/paste the following command into the Terminal window
  • defaults write com.macvector.MacVector NSRequiresAquaSystemAppearance -bool YES
  • When you start MacVector again, it should be running in Light Mode.
  • If you want to reset that preference, open Terminal and type/paste this command:
  • defaults delete com.macvector.MacVector NSRequiresAquaSystemAppearance

    To support Dark Mode we made a considerable number of design changes to MacVector’s user interface, so that toolbar buttons and Map tab colors suit both Dark and Light modes. Nonetheless MacVector’s default colors were originally designed with Light Mode in mind so the colors may not always be ideal for your needs. Do remember that MacVector gives you a lot of control over the default appearance of the display. See the following preferences pane: MacVector | Preferences | Color

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