Like most operating systems, OS X uses a color-based highlighting effect when the user selects something in the user interface. From selecting part of webpage or text in a document, to identifying a command in Terminal, to clicking on a file on your Mac desktop, OS X uses a color to highlight and denote the user’s selection.
For years, the default highlight color has been a light blue, and this color has become part of OS X’s unique look and feel. But if you’re tired of blue and want to shake things up a bit, you can easily change the default OS X highlight color with a quick trip to System Preferences, and depending on your choice of color, you can notably alter the look of your Mac’s operating system.
To change the default OS X highlight color, head to System Preferences > General. There, you’ll see a drop-down menu labeled Highlight color, which should be set to the default “Blue” unless you or someone else using your Mac has previously changed it.
In addition to the default blue, Apple provides eight other highlight color options that the company thinks work well with OS X (i.e., not too bright, not too dark, and not too distracting). To experiment with Apple’s recommended options, just select a color from the drop-down list and then highlight something in a text document or webpage. You’ll instantly see the new color used for your selection, and if you’ve grown accustomed to the default blue color over the years, the change may be a bit shocking.
But Apple doesn’t want to limit you to just nine choices. If you’re not happy with any of the OS X highlight color options, just select Other from the bottom of the drop-down list. This will launch the familiar OS X color picker where you can choose any color at any brightness.
Note, however, that some color choices don’t work well in practice. Selecting black or any very dark color will make dark text impossible to read when you highlight it. Similarly, selecting white or a very light color will make your selection difficult to see when selecting text against a white background.
The best part is that there’s no need to reboot or log out when making changes. Each time you pick a new OS X highlight color the change takes effect in the operating system immediately, letting you play around with the various options with ease. And remember, too, that no change you make here is permanent, so if you go a bit crazy and select a color you hate, you can always go back to the default blue by simply selecting it from the drop-down menu.
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