According to Microsoft, high contrast themes on Windows 10 and Windows 11 use a small set of colors to help make UI elements easier to see, reduce eye strain, and improve text readability for people with low vision and light sensitivity.
It's important not to confuse high contrast themes with light and dark themes on Windows. Compared to high contrast themes, light and dark themes use a larger palette of colors but doesn't necessarily increase contrast or make things easier to see.
You can enable and disable high contrast settings on Windows by using the Left Alt + Left Shift + PrtScn keyboard shortcut. When using this keyboard shortcut for the first time, Windows 10 and Windows 11 will ask you, "Do you want to turn on High Contrast?"
Click Yes to confirm that you are turning on this keyboard shortcut to enable and disable high-contrast themes on Windows 10 and Windows 11.
If, for whatever reason, you want to disable this keyboard shortcut in Windows 10 and Windows 11, click the "Disable this keyboard shortcut in the Ease of Access Center control panel" to be taken to the menu to turn off this keyboard shortcut. In this menu, you can decide to remove the keyboard shortcut and turn on and off the warning messages and sound warning too.
If you want to turn off the high contrast theme keyboard shortcut to prevent the ability to use high contrast themes on Windows 10 and Windows 11, click Apply to save your changes and OK to leave the menu.
Enable, disable, and create high contrast themes on Windows 10
You can quickly use the keyboard shortcut Left Alt + Left Shift + PrtScn to turn on and off high contrast themes on Windows 10, but here's what you need to do to get there using Windows Settings. You'll need to know this when you create custom themes.
1. Select the Start button, then go to Settings and choose Ease of Access
Now, you can use the keyboard shortcut Left Alt + Left Shift + PrtScn to turn on and off high contrast themes on Windows 10. Just come back and repeat the steps in this guide to
Enable, disable, and create a custom high contrast theme on Windows 11
Here's what you need to do to create a custom high contrast theme on Windows 11.
1. Open Settings (Windows key + i keyboard shortcut).
2. Open Accessibility.
3. Open Contrast themes.
4. Under Contrast themes setting, select a theme and choose Edit to change the colors of the theme.
5. Now you can change the colors of background, text, hyperlinks, inactive text, selected text, and button text in the selected theme to best fit your vision preferences.
6. Once you are finished with your color selections, click Save as, fill out the white box labeled Save as a new theme; in this case, "Default" as shown below.
Now, you know how to enable high contrast themes on Windows 10 and Windows 11. Interested to see how high contrast settings behave in apps on Windows? Check out Microsoft's documentation on contrast themes to see how high contrast theme color settings behave in Windows apps.
Microsoft is making a push towards being more accessible to people with disabilities with the recent release of the Microsoft Surface Adaptive Kit. Be sure to read our review of the surprisingly thoughtful Microsoft Surface Adaptive Kit.
Looking for some help with Windows 10 or just some good tips? Check out our How to section and get the most out of your setup!
Do you use other accessibility options besides contrast themes on Windows 10 or Windows 11? Let us know which ones you use in the comments!