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Issue #716 – Publication Week: April 11-17, 2021

Q: I am a long-time computer user. As I have grown older, my eyesight has diminished. Websites always use a light, sometimes blue, type on their pages. The same with email correspondents who use small, hard-to-read type. Is there any way to adjust my Windows 10 to make my screen more readable? Otherwise, what is my solution to this continuing problem?

– Gerald A.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

A: Of course there are solutions to your problems, Gerald.  Let’s handle the issues that you raised one at a time.

First of all, you mentioned website colors.  While it’s possible for web designers to define the exact colors that they want to use to display their pages, the better ones use the defaults of the system on which they are running, and so if you customize the browser, many, if not most of the pages the browser displays will utilize the customization.  You didn’t mention which browser you use, so I’m going to provide instructions for the default Windows 10 browser, Microsoft Edge.

In Edge, what you’re looking for is called a Theme.  The simplest thing you can do to implement the solution you’re looking for is to change the default theme from Light to Dark.  You can do that by running Edge, and clicking the three dots in the upper-right corner, then clicking “Settings”.  In the “Search settings” box, type “theme” and in the result you’ll see “Default Theme”.  Change the selection to “Dark”.

But why stop at the browser?  The latest versions of Windows 10 also offer support for dark background and light text.  Right-click in any blank space on the Windows Desktop, and select “Personalize” from the context menu.  In the navigation bar on the left, select “Colors” then under “Choose your color” select “Dark” from the drop-down list.  You should immediately see all Windows system dialogs change to light on dark.  There are some parts of the operating system, such as Task Manager, that don’t honor the Dark Mode request.  You might also consider turning on High Contrast Mode, which seems to have a far broader reach than Dark Mode.  In my tests for this issue, High Contrast Mode even changed the display of my Microsoft Word document to white text on a black background.  To find this mode, just enter “High Contrast” in the “Find a setting” box while you’re in Settings.

You can also make things easier on your aging eyes by simply making the contents of your screen appear larger.  This comes at the cost of screen real estate.  In other words, if everything is bigger, you won’t be able to fit as much content on your monitor. There are ways of compensating for that, such as getting a second, or a larger monitor, or both.  There are some amazing displays out there, capable of quite remarkable pixel resolutions, and if you’ve never used a system with two monitors side by side, you’ll be in for a real treat.

To adjust the overall scaling in Windows, start by again right-clicking on the Windows Desktop.  This time select “Display Settings” from the context menu.  Scroll down to the area where it says “Scale and layout” and there you’ll find settings to adjust the size of text, and programs. By default, Windows supports 100% and 125%, but you can drive it higher by clicking “Advanced scaling settings”.  Many programs will have issues displaying themselves correctly if you scale things too high, so while this option is available, Microsoft says right on the dialog that it’s not recommended.

You can also make things appear larger by telling Windows to display at a lower screen resolution.  This causes everything to appear larger, but again, this has the side effect of less stuff being able to fit on your screen. You’ll find “Display resolution” right on the page we’ve been talking about.

As you can see, there is no single answer to the issue of making your screen easier for you to read.  That’s why it’s generally categorized as “Personalization” so each person can choose the settings that work best for them.  Good luck.

One Response to “Issue #716 – Publication Week: April 11-17, 2021”

  • Baldman says:

    You forgot to tell him one thing. He should go see an ophthalmologist and have his eyes checked. I did and he said I have cataracts in my left eye and I’m 71.

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