Combat Eye-Strain And Tiredness With A Simple App Colour Switch

We're so used to the typical combination of black text/white background in our office apps that we're practically blind to it. Yet, the simple act of switching these two variables could be the key to keeping headaches, eye-strain and tiredness at bay — or alleviating them completely.

OK, so it's not a miracle cure, but I can say first-hand that swapping Visual Studio's default white/blue/black colour scheme to the soft and enchanting shades of Son of Obsidian (see above) has done me wonders. I'm just that little more productive, and when you're a lone developer, any bonus time you can collect is heavenly.

Of course, switching colour schemes applies to many other programs and operating systems. You don't have to go all-out like I have — you can just flip the foreground and background colours of your favourite app and go from there.

If you do get the colour bug, hit up Studio Styles. Its sole focus is on colour schemes for Visual Studio, but there's nothing stopping you from using it as a template gallery and manually applying schemes to whatever programs you use.


    I have to use MS Office 2007 a lot for work.
    This is a good argument for having more than the three dull, boring color schemes that Office is limited to.

    This article is confused as it points to coding color schemes.

    However many coders/programmers already use a dark color theme (due to command line interface roots), and those who dont are fully aware of them.

    More useful would have been a guide to setting up such themes for general office/desktop usage.

      Not confused at all. Coding is used as an example. There's nothing to stop you from applying this elsewhere, as I mention. I myself only switched recently, so it's not common practise for everyone.

      I think a guide is a great idea, but if you're using a program right now that allows you to easily switch colours, I'd say this serves as a good heads-up.

    Highly recommend the firefox addon 'Blank Your Monitor' for this sort of thing. Just press ctrl+alt+B and you get all the black on white text on the page presented as white on black.

    I honestly can't stand white on black when reading news and when it comes to coding I don't know how I'm the only one in my CompSci classes who uses a dark background theme for my IDE or terminal. Why you'd want an eye-straining white background is beyond me.

    One other thing that helps against pain in the eyes: Don't look at VB code!

      I had a C# window open at the same time, but the VB .NET code was slightly more interesting. :)

    A darker screen will also reduce power usage of your display I believe.

    Check out for a google alt.

      Although this was true for CRT monitors, it does not apply to LCDs. It actually takes extra power for LCD monitors to produce black as the backlight is always on anyway and the crystals must have a charge running through them to block it out. The lowest power consumption possible on an LCD is achieved when it is pure white.

    I have 2 screens at work. Usually the one on the left has an old terminal style window with the black background and white (or other bright colour) text. It is MUCH easier to read, easier on my eyes and so on. Everything else though is the opposite and the longer I stare at those other apps, the more my eyes start to get strained. It's not like this is any great revelation.. but my question is.. why is it that we have all these apps with white backgrounds?? Has it become "best practise" to kill users' eyes?

    Anyone know if this is possible with MSOffice, in particular Word? I spend 70% of my day in Office and would like some respite from white.

    Kind of funny considering the lifehacker website is bright white (I change it to black with white text - much easier on the eyes).

    @ Mark - how do you change it?

    Any chrome extensions to invert colours so backgrounds become dark and text light?

    Any solutions for outlook and ms office?


    ANyone have any ideas about office?

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