How to Invert Colors on a Mac

Three Methods:Keyboard Shortcut MethodSystem Preferences MethodKeyboard Shortcut Method

Sick of staring at a generically colored computer screen and desperate for a change in color? What you can do on any Mac computer is to invert the onscreen colors; dark colors will turn up light, and vice versa. Although obviously impractical when viewing color-sensitive materials such as photography, it can help mix things up as well as reduce eye strain (for example, typing a document with black typography on a completely white screen is more strenuous than typing in white on a black screen). All you have to do is adjust a single setting on your computer or punch a few keys, and your colors will be inverted immediately!

Method 1
Keyboard Shortcut Method

  1. Image titled Invert Colors on a Mac Step 1
    Press the following key combination: Command+Alt/Option+F5. This will bring up the Accessibility Options Menu.
  2. Image titled Invert Colors on a Mac Step 2
    In the Display Category, check the box next to "Invert Display Colors."
  3. Image titled Invert Colors on a Mac Step 3
    Change the colors back. When it comes time to change it back (because, unfortunately, it's unlikely that everyone will love their "negative"-looking computer), just press Command+Alt/Option+F5 again, and uncheck "Invert Display Colors."

Method 2
System Preferences Method

  1. Image titled Invert Colors on a Mac Step 4
    Go to System Preferences. System Preferences is the icon that appears as a white lightswitch with an apple on it in OS X 10.3 and earlier, and as a silver gear icon in OS X 10.4 and later.
  2. Image titled Invert Colors on a Mac Step 5
    Click the "Accessibility" button. If you haven't installed any third-party panes, this button is the last icon, located at the lower right portion of System Preferences.
  3. Image titled Invert Colors on a Mac Step 6
    Under Display, put a check mark next to "Invert Colors." Finished!

Method 3
Keyboard Shortcut Method

  1. Image titled Invert Colors on a Mac Step 7
    Simply press the following key combination: Command+Alt+Ctrl+8. This is the default system shortcut for invert colors. You may choose other key combination in System Preferences->Keyboard->Shortcuts->Accessibibility->Invert colors.


  • If anything seems messed up when you change the colors back (see warnings for some known mess-ups), just restart the computer to set everything right.
  • Sometimes when taking a picture in Photo Booth and want a dark scene, you can 'disable' Photo Booth's flash by using the keyboard shortcut above. This way, when taking a picture, the screen will turn black instead of white right before the picture is taken since colours are inverted.
  • When inverting the colors, or changing them back, the display will flicker a little bit. Don't be alarmed.
  • If you share a computer, make sure everyone else who uses it knows what you're planning to do. You don't want to scare anyone!
  • Inverting colors can help visually disabled people more easily see their screens.
  • You may notice that sometimes, when you do this, everything will end up black and white, but other times the colors will actually reverse (ex., blue will turn orange-brown).
  • This also works if you use the Apple, Alt/Option, and Control keys at the right of the space bar.
  • Inverting colors helps your eyes by preventing them from hurting and deteriorating, because it decreases the total amount of light emitted by your screen by making it predominantly black.
  • Pictures will now look negative. For example, if you have a picture on your desktop of a black horse with a white mark on his face, and then you invert the colors, he will appear ghostly white with a black smudge on his face.
  • Before doing this, consider what your favorite webpages look like. If most of them are white or gray with black writing, you're okay because it will just show up as a black background with white text. But combinations like these will most likely show up all white: blue on black, black on blue, purple on blue, etc. And color combinations like white on gray, gray on white, white on yellow, etc, will look all black.
  • Inverting colors reduces your power consumption, which is a plus for the environment, and extends your battery life for the same reason that it helps your eyes.
  • You may notice the cursor flickers a bit every once in a while.
  • One cool thing to try after doing this is to launch your screen saver (if you use one).
  • Online games will probably look weird with the colors inverted.


  • Since OS X Mavericks was released, method 1 won't work for that version nor will it work for future versions.
  • After inverting the colors for a long period of time, you may change back and find that the colors in some applications are very messed up. To fix that, just restart the computer.
  • After you do this, when you move your cursor over an icon on the dock, on some older computers, the white icon label may no longer appear, and magnification may not work either. To fix this problem, restart the computer. This appears to have been fixed for newer Macs.
  • It is not recommended to edit a photo or put together a movie when your monitor's colors are inverted. When you set the colors right, your final product may look really weird.
  • It's best not to do this on a public computer. Other people may not know how to change it back.

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