If you are like me, you love to use the dark theme of your phone at night and the light theme during the day. When switching from dark to light and vice versa, many of the UI elements in supported apps adjust accordingly, but you have no control over what does and doesn’t change. WhatsApp, on the other hand, does give you some granular control by letting you choose a chat background for each theme.
The feature is new to WhatsApp from version 2.20.130 on iOS, released on November 30, 2020, so make sure to update WhatsApp in the App Store to take advantage of the dark and light theme customizations.
If you are an Android user, the latest stable version of WhatsApp does not have the feature, but you can get it in the WhatsApp Beta. It first appeared in beta version 220.127.116.11
Step 1: Know how dark mode works in WhatsApp
The first thing to know is that this setting is directly related to your WhatsApp theme. Hence, you need to make sure you know how to change WhatsApp from light to dark mode and vice versa.
WhatsApp matches the system theme of your iPhone or Android by default. That means that when you switch from light to dark in iOS or Android, WhatsApp will follow suit. You probably want to keep it that way so that switching between your background in light mode and the background in dark mode is a breeze.
On iOS 13 and above, you can toggle dark mode through Control Center, Settings, Siri, etc., and on Android 10 or above, it can be done through Settings or the Quick Settings panel. Check out our full guide to WhatsApp dark mode for more help if you need it.
Step 2: Go to WhatsApp background settings
If you’re using an iPhone, open WhatsApp, tap ‘Settings’ in the bottom navigation bar, select ‘Chats’, then ‘Chat Background’.
Open WhatsApp on Android, tap the vertical ellipse in the top right corner, choose Settings, tap Chats, then Wallpaper.
Step 3: Set your wallpapers in light and dark mode
Now for the fun part. WhatsApp lets you choose a wallpaper like you could before, but the difference now is that that wallpaper only applies to the theme you are currently in. So when you are in light mode, the wallpaper you choose is for light mode only. If you are in dark mode, the background will stay in dark mode only.
So, if you are currently in light mode, tap “Choose a new wallpaper” (on iOS) or “Change” under Light themed wallpaper (on Android), choose and set a wallpaper. Then switch to dark mode and tap “Choose background for dark mode” (on iOS) or “Change” under Dark theme wallpaper (on Android), choose and set a wallpaper.
If you need to change the chat backgrounds later, make sure to change the wallpaper you want. If it is the background associated with dark mode, make sure you are in dark mode first. If it’s the background in light mode, make sure WhatsApp is in light mode.
Step 4: Watch the light and dark backgrounds in action
Now you can test your duplicate wallpapers in a chat. Check out what the background looks like in light mode, then switch to dark mode to see how the background automatically changes to the background you set for the dark theme.
These choices only apply to chats that use the default background chosen for all chats. If you set a chat-specific wallpaper, you won’t see it change in light and dark mode as it is on its own terms.
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