How to customize your Mac’s highlight color

ColorPickerOne of the details that we perhaps take for granted when using our Macs is the highlight color of text and other items when we select them. For the longest time, Apple has been in love with the color blue, and has made this the default color for items when you select them either to copy, replace, or otherwise manipulate. This is true for selectable text in editors and system panels, as well as the highlight color in the Finder and elsewhere. If for some reason you would like to use another color than blue, then you can do so rather easily.

Appearance settings that deal with the look of OS X are located in the General section of the system preferences, in which you will see one option for setting the “Highlight color.” As with many settings in OS X that deal with color, you will have a number of presets to choose from when you select this, including new Pink and Brown presets set for OS X Yosemite. You might find that while blue will work fine in most cases, it may be pleasant to have a change, or might even be easier to read if you use a lighter color, so try selecting several of these and see if they work better for you.

When you select on of these options, I recommend not only opening an editor like TextEdit and seeing how they look, but also open system panels such as the About This Mac window and highlighting text in there to see how it looks, in addition to doing similar for Web pages, presentations, PDFs, and other documents you have. You might be surprised at the difference this subtle change can make.

In addition to selecting some of the preset highlight colors, Apple offers an “Other” option in this menu, where you can set the highlight color to any setting you wish using Apple’s universal color picker panels. This gives you complete control over the exact highlight color your Mac will use, but because this gives you such a wide range of options, when using the color picker I recommend you follow these steps:

1. Open a few panels and windows containing text, and highlight the text in each.
2. Position the panels and windows side-by-side.
3. Go to the highlight color settings and choose “Other” to get to the color picker.
4. Try various colors in the picker.

Highlight color picker in OS X

You can use the color picker to set very specific and subtle changes to your highlight color, which can make a world of difference for managing small or large selections, so try a number of different tweaks in real-time when customizing this feature.

When you do this, the colors in the various windows you have open will update dynamically, showing you in real-time what the highlight color will look like. This will give you a good feel for what you will see when using your Mac, and allow you to make fine adjustments to best suit your liking.

One thought on “How to customize your Mac’s highlight color

  1. B. Jefferson Le Blanc

    That’s a good tip, thank you. I hadn’t seen the part about testing colors in open documents before. This will be particularly useful in Yosemite where the highlight colors have gone pale.

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