How to Use Window’s ‘Colour Filters’ Accessibility Setting

How to Use Window’s ‘Colour Filters’ Accessibility Setting
Photo: diy13, Shutterstock

Many modern operating systems and apps include settings that make them more accessible to users who are colorblind (or colour deficient) — here’s how you can set up these options in the four most recent versions of Windows: 11, 10, 8 and 7.

How to set up Windows 11 or Windows 10 for colorblind users

Of all the versions of Windows still supported by Microsoft, both Windows 11 and 10 make it easiest to configure your PC with a colorblind filter.

On both of these versions of Windows, colorblind support is run through the “colour filters” feature. You can access this feature in one of two ways, either by opening the start menu and searching for “colour filters” or by going Settings and selecting Ease of Access (“Accessibility” in Windows 11), then selecting Colour filters.

Once colour filters are active, one of the six available colour filters will be automatically applied. If you’ve never used the feature before, Windows will default to activating the “Grayscale” colour filter.

The colour filters screen in Windows 10. (Screenshot: Shannon Flynn) The colour filters screen in Windows 10. (Screenshot: Shannon Flynn)

In addition to Grayscale, you also have the ability to pick one of two additional colour filters or one of three colorblindness filters, for a total of six filter options. Currently, both Windows 10 and 11 offer a red-green (green weak/deuteranopia), red-green (red weak/protanopia) and blue-yellow (tritanopia) filter, in addition to the three colour filter options.

The right filter will depend on your personal needs. Around 8% of caucasian males have some form of colorblindness which may impair their ability to distinguish red from other colours. For this segment of men with colorblindness, the protanopia or weak red-green filter would work best.

Clicking any of the filter options will automatically set it for your computer. If you want a preview of how the filter will look in use, you can use the colour wheel at the bottom of the colour filters page in Windows 10, (or in Windows 11, the colour wheel that appears at the top of the page), along with a palette and image that match the wheel’s colours.

In Windows 10, you can also activate the shortcut for the colour filter while on this page, which is useful if you have an app that has its own colorblindness settings you prefer. By default, the shortcut will be the Windows key + Ctrl + C.

Accessibility options in other versions of Windows

If you’re running an earlier version of Windows, you still have options; however, you may be limited to just changing the colours of your Windows theme. Both Windows 8 and Windows 7 have a high contrast mode that increases screen contrast, making different colours easier to distinguish.

Windows 8

In Windows 8, you can turn this mode on or off by navigating to SettingsEase of Access > High contrast. You can toggle this mode on or off at any time using the shortcut Alt + left Shift + Print Screen.

Windows 7

In Windows 7, the process looks similar. From the Control Panel, select Ease of Access Centre > Make the computer easier to see. With this menu, you can activate High Contrast mode and select a high contrast theme. Like in Windows 8, you can activate or deactivate High Contrast at any time with the shortcut Alt + Left Shift + Print Screen.

Other options to set your PC for colour blindness

If the high-contrast themes available don’t provide what you’re looking for, you may find success with a third-party app that provides filtering similar to what Windows 10 offers. Tools like stand-alone apps Visolve or Firefox extension ColorBlindExt can provide filters that may make different colours easier to distinguish for colour-deficient users.

A growing number of apps and video games are also beginning to implement colorblind features. Typically, if these features are available, you’ll be able to access them through the video or accessibility section of the app’s settings menu.

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