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Use black background without contrast/readability problems

Last response: in Windows XP
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November 18, 2011 6:48:33 PM

How do I change the background color of my Windows display to black (0xFF000000 (ARGB)) without contrast problems? I know how to configure the background colors and stuff (control panel > display > appearance > advanced), so that's not the problem. The problem is, for example, Audacity's time markers (among several other programs, even installers). If I had a black background, the time text is 100% unreadable. Even with image-editing programs and select by color, it'll get the background and text because they are exactly the same color. Even with the text color set to a medium green (0xFF00BF00 to be exact), that does no good. CPU-Z is the same, though in a different way - blue on dark gray. The reason is that some programs define the text color but don't define the background color and it's this that prevents me from using black backgrounds, of which I'd really love to use. I'm currently using a dark gray (0xFF282828 to be exact) to address this and at least make the text somewhat readable, but even then, should a program come along that doesn't define the background color and uses a dark gray for the text (like 0xFF333333), then I've really got a problem. You can't always highlight everything in programs, like you can in a browser. Here's a screenshot that illustrates this very well:



It's not easy to read the time info at the top of Audacity and several other things are difficult to read as well. Question: what's the project's sampling rate? Hard to read, huh? What's the audio track's sampling rate? That's easy to read: 21,500 Hz. Now look at my CPU-Z window. This is even worse for contrast! If you can read this quickly enough, you've got very good eyes. It normally takes you an average of a few seconds to make out what even one number is in this. Oh, and good luck figuring out what those tabs say without ever seeing the actual program itself beforehand. These tabs are virtually impossible to read without using an image editing program to bring them out. The case with Excel is fine... except when it comes to printing as it prints not black, but green. Choosing "black and white" for printing forces the text to print green rather than black. Notice the color of the automatic color? Has Microsoft not tested dark themes at all? Why do I use dark themes? It's due to the way the eye works. When working on dark scenes (like my game's world 9 which takes place at night), the dark backgrounds makes it much easier to see the darker colors as, due to the eyes receiving less light, they adjust so that they take in more light, making dark scenes brighter. Should I be working with the white default background, these dark scenes are a real pain to work with since the eyes adjust to receive less light.

My question is, is there a way to get a contrast check with text in programs and force the text to my default dark green or something should the contrast drop below 64 (that is, the difference between 0xFF404040 and 0xFF808080)? The medium green on dark gray has a contrast of about 103 which makes it easy to read.
November 18, 2011 8:45:47 PM

The bottom line is you have discovered that some programs use their own colors for text and they ignore the Windows settings. This problem must be fixed by the software; it is not a Windows problem.

I have a similar problem on an older laptop which uses a slightly larger font size, and some programs assume the standard font size will be used when creating menus and popup messages. Some of these programs are almost unusable because menu items overlap or text messages run outside message boxes.
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