Medical conditions sometimes require us to tweak Windows in order to accommodate a particular physical limitation or need. With this in mind, today’s SuperUser Q&A post looks at options available for a reader’s visual monochrome needs.

Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser—a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-driven grouping of Q&A web sites.

The Question

SuperUser reader Liam William wants to know if there is a way to force Windows to display in Grayscale:

Is there a way to force Windows to display in monochrome (also known as Grayscale)? I am working with a student who has ADHD (and I am mildly ADHD myself). The colors are too much for the student to handle.

Is there a way to force Windows to display in Grayscale (or something very close to Grayscale)?

The Answer

SuperUser contributors Aboba and Enmos Proje have the answer for us. First up, Aboba:

It depends on your video card, but if you can find the properties for the colour adjustments, you can usually reduce the saturation. Depending on how far you go, you get black and white.

Followed by the answer from Enmos Proje:

You could look for something like a black and white theme to change every aspect of the GUI or try some of these recommendations from Microsoft (they work in Windows 8 too): Make the Computer Easier to See (Optimize Visual Display)

Note: The section below was quoted by Enmos Proje from the Microsoft help article linked above.

If you occasionally have trouble seeing items on your screen, you can adjust the settings to make text and images on the screen appear larger, improve the contrast between items on the screen, and hear on-screen text read aloud.

You can adjust many of these settings on the Make the computer easier to see page in the Ease of Access Center. For information about other settings, see Getting the best display on your monitor.

1. Open the Make the computer easier to see page by clicking the Start Button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Ease of Access, clicking Ease of Access Center, and then clicking Make the computer easier to see.

2. Select the options that you want to use:

  • Choose a High Contrast theme. This option allows you to set a high-contrast color scheme that heightens the color contrast of some text and images on your computer screen, making those items more distinct and easier to identify.
  • Turn on or off High Contrast when Left Alt+Left Shift+Print Screen is pressed. This option allows you to toggle a high-contrast theme on or off by pressing the Left Alt+Left Shift+Print Screen keys.
  • Turn on Narrator. This option sets Narrator to run when you log on to your computer. Narrator reads aloud on-screen text and describes some events (such as error messages appearing) that happen while you’re using the computer. For more information about using Narrator, see Hear text read aloud with Narrator.
  • Turn on Audio Description. This option sets Audio Descriptions to run when you log on to your computer. Audio Descriptions describe what’s happening in videos.
  • Change the size of text and icons. This option allows you to make text and other items on your screen appear larger, so they’re easier to see. For more information, see Make the text on your screen larger or smaller.
  • Turn on Magnifier. This option sets Magnifier to run when you log on to your computer. Magnifier enlarges the part of the screen where the mouse is pointing and can be especially useful for viewing objects that are difficult to see. For more information about using Magnifier, see Make items on the screen appear bigger (Magnifier).
  • Adjust the color and transparency of the window borders. This option allows you to change the appearance of window borders to make them easier to see.
  • Fine tune display effects. This option allows you to customize how certain items appear on your desktop.
  • Make the focus rectangle thicker. This option makes the rectangle around the currently selected item in dialog boxes thicker, which makes it easier to see.
  • Set the thickness of the blinking cursor. This option allows you to make the blinking cursor in dialog boxes and programs thicker and easier to see.
  • Turn off all unnecessary animations. This option turns off animation effects, such as fading effects, when you close windows and other elements.
  • Remove background images. This option turns off all unimportant, overlapped content and background images to help make the screen easier to see.

Have something to add to the explanation? Sound off in the comments. Want to read more answers from other tech-savvy Stack Exchange users? Check out the full discussion thread here.

Akemi Iwaya
Akemi Iwaya has been part of the How-To Geek/LifeSavvy Media team since 2009. She has previously written under the pen name "Asian Angel" and was a Lifehacker intern before joining How-To Geek/LifeSavvy Media. She has been quoted as an authoritative source by ZDNet Worldwide.
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