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Graphics Businesses OS X Operating Systems Software Apple

Color Changes in Mac OS X for the Visually Impaired? 87

Posted by Cliff
from the wanted:-light-text-on-dark-backgrounds dept.
drdink asks: "I am an avid FreeBSD and Windows user. This semester for a class I'm having to use MacOS X for the first time, and I've also been pondering jumping into the Apple scene anyway. However, I am also visually impaired and I can't seem to find a way to do specific color theming in a way similar to Windows, KDE, and GNOME. I want to be able to say 'Text is white, backgrounds are black, but EVERYTHING ELSE is its normal color.' The only options I've found that are similar is using 'White on Black' in the Universal Access control panel. However, this results in me losing all display colors and my machine looking monochrome. I don't want to use a $2,000+ machine just to have no colors. Is there anybody out there who has actually managed to get Mac OS X to use the normal colors but have high contrast white on black dialog boxes? I am interested in the Apple platform, but I can't use it for useful things, if I have no color."
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Color Changes in Mac OS X for the Visually Impaired?

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  • One idea (Score:5, Informative)

    by ZackSchil (560462) on Wednesday September 03, 2003 @08:51PM (#6864852)
    You can switch to white on black, then change the number of colors back to Millions. It gets you back your coler and keeps everything reversed. Problem solved.... well, if you don't mind using a negative of aqua :^D Gotta love the orange buttons.
  • by glowurm (518048) on Wednesday September 03, 2003 @08:59PM (#6864911)

    Hope they help:

    ResExcellence Themes []
    Theme Park Tutorial []

    What does this mean? Make your own. While I'm not familiar with the creation process for other windowing systems (like you mentioned) I do know that you can probably make your own theme to specifications you desire. Those links are where I would start; perhaps there's something there that you can modify or a theme that fits the bill without changes.

    Good luck!
  • Curious (Score:2, Informative)

    by igabe (594295) on Wednesday September 03, 2003 @09:46PM (#6865186) Homepage
    If you can't work without the black and white you talked about, then how can you can you still see "everything else"?

    OS X's Aqua GUI has a lot of white, and now with Panther(Apple's fast approaching major OS update) coming out, brushed metal(metallic darkish grey) is going to be everywhere. Just not sure how that is going to look with any solution you may find.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 03, 2003 @10:19PM (#6865374)
    Here [].

    This program inverts the colors (white->black, black->white, blue->brown, brown->blue, etc). This will give you color-cue information still.

    If you want to just convert white to black and black to white, keeping the rest, you might ask the author if he can set up a color conversion table to do that for you. I know that he's already set up a preferences to eliminate light grays for example.

    You're welcome.

  • by catwh0re (540371) on Wednesday September 03, 2003 @11:11PM (#6865692)
    A new panther feature lets you increase the contrast of the entire screen any desired amount (until you basically get everything, 100% white, black, RGB, CMY)
    Also current versions support a nifty zoom in feature.
  • Re:Curious (Score:5, Informative)

    by drdink (77) * <> on Wednesday September 03, 2003 @11:28PM (#6865772) Homepage

    If you can't work without the black and white you talked about, then how can you can you still see "everything else"?

    It is more of an issue of contrast. I can see white on black so much easier than black on white. Since there is less white blazing out at me, it is easier to see the text. I can see black on white, but it causes eye strain much faster and takes a lot more effort to read. Having the majority of my 'readable' screen area in high-contrast colors saves my eyes from catching on fire after a while.
  • Not in Pather. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Xenex (97062) <> on Thursday September 04, 2003 @12:39AM (#6866091) Journal
    I've just tried that in Panther, and it doesn't work anymore.

    Looks like Apple have cleaned up that little glitch...
  • Reverse the Polarity (Score:5, Informative)

    by yancey (136972) on Thursday September 04, 2003 @12:57AM (#6866149)
    This doesn't do specifically what you're asking, but it may be useful to you, even if only for fun.

    Open Terminal and enter the following command.

    defaults write DisplayUseInvertedPolarity -bool YES

    This command sets a preference that reverses all color polarity on the screen (like a photographic negative). I think you'll have to reboot or at least log out and back in to see the results. Of course, changing the -bool YES to -bool NO will return your display back to normal.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 04, 2003 @02:51AM (#6866516)
    try the Apple disability website for starters:
  • Re:One idea (Score:5, Informative)

    by hype7 (239530) <> on Thursday September 04, 2003 @04:26AM (#6866819) Journal
    Not only a nice prank, but may be of some help to the poster.

    Hit Control+Alt+Apple+the star on the num pad. It will switch your display into grayscale and invert it. Under MacOS X 10.3 you will have to press Control+Alt+Apple+8

    It obviously won't leave everything else as a normal colour, but you'll get your white text on black background. Hope that helps some!

    -- james
  • by your_mother_sews_soc (528221) on Thursday September 04, 2003 @08:53AM (#6867779)
    It looks like the file /System/Library/Colors/System.clr/System.clr contains an archived Dictionary of (NS)Colors. It contains the color values for UI items like controlColor, scrollBarColor, textBackgroundColor, etc.

    I am sure there must be some utilities out there to load/change/store the colors contained in this file. If not, a slashdoter who is up to speed on Cocoa should be able to whip something together pretty quickly. Until then, the best place to search for handy utilities of this sort is []. Good luck.
  • by WillAdams (45638) on Thursday September 04, 2003 @10:32AM (#6868664) Homepage

    It's intended for astronomers so as to preserve their night vision, but is fully configurable.

    Free too.

  • by Duck_Taffy (551144) <cheneyho&yahoo,com> on Thursday September 04, 2003 @10:41AM (#6868754)
  • by 14cfr01 (626507) on Thursday September 04, 2003 @10:43AM (#6868763) Journal

    I know this sounds stupid, but:

    For better contrast, switch to Millions of colors and then switch back to 256 colors.

    This results in an inversed color screen that is much more readable. I think using 256 colors will be more helpful to the visually impared user; I was having lots of trouble reading text on the inverted screen under Millions of colors.

    Thanks for the tips! I didn't know you could do this! I'll see how much work I can get done before I've gotta switch the screen back.

  • Black Light (Score:3, Informative)

    by WCityMike (579094) on Thursday September 04, 2003 @09:07PM (#6875195)
    You might want to see if the effect this application [] produces (essentially inverting the gamma curve) assists you at all.
  • Re:iCal coloration (Score:2, Informative)

    by macmastery (600662) on Friday September 05, 2003 @12:45AM (#6876519) Homepage Journal
    You can request this feature at:


    There is a feedback page for just about every iApp and for Safari. There are links to them from the App's application menu.
  • Scotopic Sensitivity (Score:3, Informative)

    by yroJJory (559141) <me&jory,org> on Friday September 05, 2003 @12:42PM (#6880557) Homepage
    Have you ever been tested for Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome (SSS) []? This may be a better way to correct the issues you are having, as the solution uses color overlays or colored lenses to limit the amount of light entering your eyes. For example, if you see letters jiggling when reading a book, it is a sign that you may have this problem.

    The Irlen Institute [] has done quite a bit of research about this and I can tell you from both my experience and observation that it works. After all, if the problem is occuring when using a computer, I imagine reading a book (if you ever do so), must be incredibly difficult.

    My mom is a reading specialist and she has been testing people for SSS since I was in grade school. The difference between the reading abilities of her students was immediately noticable. I highly recommend looking into SSS testing.
  • by lars-o-matic (533381) <[slashlars] [at] []> on Friday September 05, 2003 @05:35PM (#6883284) Homepage
    I like the Duality [] theme changer, too.

    As more people create quality themes, the value of this sort of utility keeps growing. I bought a Kaleidoscope [] license way back when -- alas, MacOS 8.x - 9.x only -- the tons of excellent themes made it worthwhile.

The perversity of nature is nowhere better demonstrated by the fact that, when exposed to the same atmosphere, bread becomes hard while crackers become soft.