How to Use Night Shift in macOS Sierra

Night Shift has been in iOS for several months, and it’s finally reached macOS with the 10.12.4 update that Apple released today. The principle behind Night Shift is that the color temperature of your Mac’s display is ideal for the daytime, when there’s sun out, but not the dark. Ideally, your display should be warmer when it’s dark; less blue, more red. The thought is that the cooler colors prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. Here’s how to use it.

The Night Shift settings are hidden in the Displays preferences. Go to System Preferences > Displays, and click Night Shift.

Night shift

You have three options: Off, Custom, and Sunset to Sunrise. If you don’t want to use Night Shift, leave it off. If you do want to use it, try the Sunset the Sunrise setting first. Your Mac knows what time the sun sets and rises, because of your location, so this changes the color at the right time every day. If you want choose the Custom setting, you can choose precise times for Night Shift to start and stop.

Use the Color Temperature slider to choose a color. You’ll see how the color changes as you move the slider, and it’s good to try a subtle change (Less Warm) at first. I recommend setting a color and getting used to it, for an hour or two, then tweaking it a little in either direction until you find the one that feels comfortable. It may take you a few days to find the color you want.

As with iOS, you can override these settings. Display Notification Center and you’ll see a toggle for Night Shift at the top of the pane.

Night shift notification center

Toggling Night Shift on and off from Notification Center is a good way to compare your selected color temperature with the actual color of your display.

I love Night Shift. I don’t think it makes a difference in my sleep, but it feels more comfortable on my eyes when it’s dark and the color is warmer, less harsh. I’ve been using f.lux on my Mac for a while; it offers a similar feature. But I’m happy to use the built-in Night Shift feature in the future. One less app to worry about.

It’s worth noting that not all Macs and displays support Night Shift. Apple has a support document which lists the compatible models.

10 thoughts on “How to Use Night Shift in macOS Sierra

  1. I’ve got Night Shift, on my MBP15 2016, set to Custom.

    Interestingly when I watched the transition to Off, the shift to Day colors began about a minute prior so the screen colors slowly changed to be completed at the set Off time. Nice detail.

  2. I’ve got Night Shift, on my MBP15 2016, set to Custom.

    Interestingly when I watched the transition to Off, the shift to Day colors began about a minute prior so the screen colors slowly changed to be completed at the set Off time. Nice detail.

  3. I’m running Sierra, but there’s no option for Night Shift. Could it be that using a cheap AOC display somehow doesn’t support NS?

      • I’m using a 24″  Cinema Display (2010), connected to my MBP15 2016, and NS is working via my display as I use my MBP in lid-closed setup.

  4. I’m running Sierra, but there’s no option for Night Shift. Could it be that using a cheap AOC display somehow doesn’t support NS?

      • I’m using a 24″  Cinema Display (2010), connected to my MBP15 2016, and NS is working via my display as I use my MBP in lid-closed setup.

  5. I love Nightshift on my iPhone. All my Macs are calibrated for photography, using the Spyder calibration tool. After calibration the screen is warmer in any case. I would be worried about Nightshift interacting with the calibration and messing up the results.

  6. I love Nightshift on my iPhone. All my Macs are calibrated for photography, using the Spyder calibration tool. After calibration the screen is warmer in any case. I would be worried about Nightshift interacting with the calibration and messing up the results.

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