In the Accessibility preference pane of El Capitan's System Preferences, I've noticed a "Differentiate without color" setting that I didn't notice before.

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Does anyone know to what extent this setting will change the experience of Finder?

I couldn't find much in the help and the only link I found about this was very succinct (I can't believe this setting only acts on the dots of this exemple).

I would love to know exactly how toggling this setting would affect the Mac's OS display, and its apps.

  • 1
    Maybe a comment about the downvotes? Jun 15, 2016 at 5:33
  • It will make subtle changes very notable to colorblind people but not all that noticeable to those of us with full-color vision.
    – owlswipe
    Jun 15, 2016 at 11:28
  • Thanks. That doesn't explain a downvote? Are colorblind supposed to know this? How? Jun 15, 2016 at 14:07
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    No idea why somebody downvoted you, this question is perfectly fine! (I upvoted to compensate :D.) I don't think the changes have to be particularly noticeable, just enough for someone who can't see color to differentiate two things without color. You likely won't notice the difference unless you turn on grayscale in there too, to simulate what it would be like to be colorblind. No harm in trying grayscale and differentiate without color! Also, I think a colorblind person (or anyone with a vision-based disability) would know to poke around in accessibility and thus would find this feature.
    – owlswipe
    Jun 15, 2016 at 20:25
  • 1
    If you go to the Messages app, click Messages in the menubar, and hover over choose status, you'll see that the red icons are squares and the green icons are circles (when you have on differentiate without color), whereas without it on, all colors are circles. This image (imgur.com/mG1M3kN) shows this effect with differentiate without color on. See more here: forums.macrumors.com/threads/…
    – owlswipe
    Jun 25, 2016 at 2:02

1 Answer 1


The only change I've found so far is changing the dots in Messages, as some other users have pointed out. I couldn't find any changes in Finder, which surprised me, since Tags would definitely benefit from this feature.

EDIT 1: This book excerpt would seem to corroborate that: https://www.safaribooksonline.com/library/view/os-x-yosemite/9781491948484/ch09s02.html

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