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Thread: Windows colors (WinXp SP1)
2003-02-17, 04:08 #1
- Join Date
- Aug 2001
- Bay Area, California, USA
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Windows colors (WinXp SP1)
Microsoft's archaic Display Properties applet (Desktop Properties | Appearance) is difficult to work with to accurately and properly set color choices in Windows. Often color choices in some apps don't seem to be adjustable.
Like many people, I have spent a good deal of time getting my color themes just right. But I was running into situations where some auxiliary menus were unreadable and seemed to be getting some colors from somewhere other than where they should have. I set out to see if I could figure out where and what the problem was. I used the free PC Magazine utility called DisplaySet which, once you get the hang of it, is easier to use and much more robust than the default MS app. It also allows you to export your colors so you can easily reload them on a system rebuild.
What I found was that a variety of MS apps don't always choose the colors for their elements correctly. For instance look at the attached screen shots. The second segment shows the standard Windows display app Focusing on the "disabled" menu item, note that the color here is a dark gray. In the native Windows app, you can't set the disabled text color. This was causing me visibility problems on some menus in conjunction with my colors. It isn't always easy to fix a problem like this using the standard Windows app because changing a single color will often cause it to reverberate and affect seemingly disconnected menus and app colors elsewhere in Windows itself or running apps.
Now look at the second segment from the DisplaySet app which shows the mappings of my current color scheme. Notice the cursor arrow pointing to the disabled "Edit" menu item. It is a grape color here which works better for me.
The problem seems to be that different groups in Microsoft often don't follow their own standards and the programmers have drawn colors from places that they shouldn't. As you can see in this example, Windows is actually using the "3D object shadow" color property to color disabled text instead of the disabled text color property a bit above! Of course, I could easily change the 3D object shadow color to the same color as disabled text, but doing so causes visibility problems because other Microsoft applications draw from the wrong colors, creating some difficult to read menus.
Another example of using the system colors wrong is the 3rd segment in the attached screen shot. Notice that Outlook 2002 is using the "3d object shadow" to color the title bar. But this color is supposedly only for shadows, not for full coloration of an object.
Hopefully, someone from MS will see this and get some attention paid to using the correct colors in their apps.