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Is Mac OS X Leopard, Safari 3.x too dark?

At one time, Mac OS X's Aqua interface was light and colorful. Now it's taken a darker turn, and at times, in some applications, on some displays and for some eyes, much darker.
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Written by David Morgenstern on

At one time, Mac OS X's Aqua interface was light and colorful. Now it's taken a darker turn, and at times, in some applications, on some displays and for some eyes, much darker.

At the same time, Apple also lets us make lemonade from the digital lemons.

I noted the beef in a thread on the Mac OS X Talk list about the look of tabs in Safari 3. There were complaints that the tabs were too dark.

A reader Russ Grigg, pointed out that the behavior is even worse on a color-calibrated monitor.

Yeah, the recent "black on dark gray" Pro schema that's popping up all over the place in OSX is awful, especially if you're running a monitor less than fully bright or have a higher than 2.2 gamma set.

For Safari, if you select another app to be active, the tabs do lighten up a bit to where they're readable. But when Safari is selected the non-current tabs are so dark on my calibrated monitor that it can be really tough to read them. You have to let the mouse hover over each tab a second till you get the tooltip text.

Maybe it's just the darker startup screen, but I find Leopard is darker than Tiger in general, and Safari is darker on the former, as well. The tabs are dark, and get darker when you move the mouse over them.

What Grigg points out is that on a professional color setup, the interface is even darker. Most users push the brightness and contrast levels of their display. Brighter looks better. However, to color match photographic images, the settings almost always must be lowered. That can make an already dark interface, darker.

However, a recent post on Mac OS X Hints makes good use of the gray.

When you open a text file in Safari (.rtf or .txt) and then use the Find command, the hits pop out in a yellow highlight color and the surrounding text is grayed out.

The advantage is that you get Safari's wonderful new 'find' UI instead of just plain old search results or filtered text.

It really makes finding the text strings quick and easy. Of course, you can't edit the text in Safari but it's easy enough to select the text and then use a Service that either opens the file in your text editor or copies the selection into the clipboard and opens it in a new file.

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