How to Invert Colors on a Google Chromebook

As computers are becoming nearly a necessity for modern life, operating system and software developers are catching on that the traditional design does not work well for everyone. Accessibility features are becoming better and more streamlined every day to help make technology user-friendly for everyone. Difficulty with vision is one of the most commonly reported disabilities worldwide and is more frequent in the elderly.

You do not need to have a formal visual disability however to know how difficult it can be to stare at a bright glaring screen all day with painful eyes. Eye fatigue can make you feel exhausted and reduce your productivity. We can all do more to take better care of our wonderful sensory organs that allow us to see and interact accurately with the world.

Although the list of useful tips for reducing eye strain is long and includes tips such as using eye drops, trying to focus on a point far away, such as out of a window at least once an hour, and wearing glasses with an accurate prescription, we would like you to consider adding color inversion to your arsenal. Inverting the colors on your screen produces a picture negative of the screen such that black objects appear white and vice versa.

 If you want to geek out, then each color will be replaced by its complementary color i.e., the color opposite on the color wheel so blue will be replaced with yellow, etc. The benefit of this is that most of the backgrounds used on websites, word processing tools, and other commonly used programs are white with black text. This produces glare and is relatively low in contrast compared to the opposite situation, black background, white text. Hence the combination of reduced screen brightness and increased contrast can help ease eye strain and make words and objects more legible for people with visual impairments.

Color inversion also has the benefit of being more comfortable for people who often suffer headaches, especially migraines. Although it is ideal to rest completely when not well, we occasionally need to look at a screen which is very painful if a person suffers from photophobia, severe sensitivity to light.

All major operating systems offer this little-known feature including Chrome OS, so if you are finding yourself with painful dry eyes after a work session and would like to try inverting your colors then this is incredibly easy both to turn on and to reverse. In Chrome OS, inverting colors is termed High Contrast Mode.

Inverting the Colors on Chrome OS

Okay ready, let’s start with the keyboard shortcut:

Ctrl + Search + H

­Unless this feature has been disabled by a system administrator or your Chromebook lacks a search button the keyboard combo above should invert your colors immediately. Give it a few minutes as it can be a little disorienting at first.

Key location on most Chromebooks for using the keyboard shortcut to invert colors.

If you want to manage more than one accessibility setting, as there are quite a few more available, then using the settings menu is advisable. We will guide you through step by step in case you are new to Chrome OS. If you are a seasoned user, you can find the accessibility features under advanced in the settings menu, as mentioned to invert colors in Chrome OS turn on High Contrast Mode. So here we are for you beginners out there:

  1. Click on the clock icon in the bottom right corner
  2. Select the Cogwheel to open settings
  3. Scroll down and click on Advanced – this will open a menu
  4. Select Manage Accessibility Features under Advanced
  5. Scroll to the Display Section and toggle Use High Contrast Mode

To turn off high contrast mode just reverse the toggle. Sometimes the change does not take effect until you close the settings window.

You can also try other accessibility features while there such as changing the screen resolution and magnification, among others.