Make document and spreadsheet screens easier to read with a yellow tint


 Some time ago (March 2007, page 77) you published an item on ways to make computer screens of documents and spreadsheets easier to read by coloring them with a light yellow tint. I tried it, and it’s great! Thanks! Now I can easily read small, densely packed type in spreadsheets or documents, and my eyes don’t get weary. However, I have to color each new document I create. Is there some way to make Word and Excel default their screens to a color tint?

 I’m glad you find it helpful. Yes, you can default to a tinted screen. It takes a bit of effort, but, since you’re finding it so helpful, I’m sure you’ll gladly invest the effort to go through the steps. Many middle-age or older users or those who suffer from mild dyslexia or light sensitivity typically find that text on a white background—whether on a computer screen or paper— is somewhat difficult to read. The glare appears to be the culprit, making the letters and numbers seem to go out of focus or even “jump” a little.

The yellow tint default process that I’ll explain works in XP and Vista. Except for the initial steps, the method is essentially the same for both operating systems.

In XP, begin by clicking on Start , Control Panel then Display , which evokes the Display Properties screen (below left).


In the Display Properties screen, click on the Appearance tab and then on the Advanced button to open the Advanced Appearance screen (above right).

Now locate the Item box and click on the down arrow until Window is displayed and click on the arrow next to Color 1 to show a color palette (see screenshot at right). Click on Other , and a more comprehensive color palette, Color , will appear (see screenshot below).

Since there is no very light default yellow tint available in its menu of Basic colors , you must create a custom color. In the wide rainbow display on the right of the screen, move your cursor to the yellow band in the rainbow display and right-click. Then move your cursor farther to the right to the narrow band of varying shades of yellow and slide the indicator arrow up to a very light shade of yellow and click on Add to Custom Colors (the tint you selected will appear in one of the empty Custom colors boxes on the left side of the screen) and click on OK.



That’s it. You changed the default color for the pages of your applications.

And now, as you saw in the Item column in the Advanced Appearance screen, you also can customize the colors or many other displays—from title bars to message boxes. But be careful, you can accidentally create a color combination that is not easily visible—such as a black background with a dark gray message. But worry not, if you’ve changed too many colors and the combinations get out of hand, there is a safety net: You can revert everything to the original XP-set state by returning to the Display Properties screen and, under Windows and buttons , click on Windows Classic Style .

In Vista, except for the early steps, the process is similar but a little less intuitive. Click on Control Panel Home , and, under the Ease of Access group, click on the words Optimize visual display .

Then go to the bottom of the screen and click on Personalize appearance and sound effects and then on Window Color and Appearance , which finally brings up Appearance Settings. Click on Advanced and then follow the steps listed above for XP.


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