Accidental Contrast with Universal Access in Mac OS X

I had a terrible hour or two last night where my laptop screen went bonkers, no color contrast and my usual color schemes in TextMate and Terminal weren’t working. My eyes hurt trying to make out the text.

At first I thought I’d triggered something with a new application, or maybe my monitor’s brightness was wonky. That led to checking my color calibration, taking eyglasses on and off, and asking for a second opinion from my wife, “Does this look faded or washed out to you?” She confirmed it. “That looks really hard to read.”

I slept on it, trying to think of what apps or settings I’d tweaked recently. After a quick Google search this morning, I found out I’d accidentally upped the system-wide Universal Access contrast with a keystroke combination of Cmd-Opt-Ctrl-,—via this result. Turns out that with the Dvorak keyboard layout this keystroke combination is really close to Cmd-Opt-Ctrl-e, the keys used with window-resizing app called Divvy—an app I invoke often.

If you see whitewashed, faded colors in Mac OS X chances are you also turned on the “Enhance contrast” settings in System Preferences → Universal Access. To fix it go to that pane and change the slider back to “Normal”—or hit Cmd-Opt-Ctrl-. (with a period instead of a comma).

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