I am using the Keyboard Viewer in recorded video screenshots to demonstrate the action of keystrokes on an app. The keyboard window is small, the produced video is compressed, and as a result it is very hard for many people in the audience to perceive what keys are pressed during the presentation (pressed keys are outlined in dark brown/purple on a black background).

The previous UX for the Keyboard Viewer was a lot more accessible and legible.

I am not expressing an opinion - tools like WebAIM give this color combination a Contrast Ratio Fail rating across all three categories, with a very low 2.02:1 contrast rating against the surrounding background color.

Current Keyboard Viewer on Catalina:

enter image description here

Can you tell which keys are pressed? I didn't think so

Previous Keyboard Viewer on High Sierra:

enter image description here

Can you tell which keys are pressed? Yes you can! Yes you can!

Is there a way to use the more accessible, gray Keyboard Viewer on Catalina?

Given that Apple has always had very inclusive Accessibility Guidelines, I am hoping that I am missing a setting somewhere and that this poor UX decision can be reversed.

  • Is it mode-dependant? I don't have Catalina to check.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jan 27, 2021 at 19:32

1 Answer 1


In Catalina Keyboard Viewer, click the Gear icon in the upper right corner of the window. This opens a pop-up window where you can select the Appearance setting of the Keyboard View window to either Dark or Light, independent of the System Appearance setting:

Dark Mode

Ligt Mode

  • When you choose Dark Mode, a pressed key is outlined in red.
  • When you choose Light Mode, a pressed key is outlined in red in addition to having a grey overlay, which is what you are looking for.
  • 2
    Brilliant. Thanks a lot. Very confused as to why design rules are not applied by designers when creating dark mode interfaces... I have the same problem with the dark mode in Adobe apps, grey text over grey backgrounds... what a nightmare. Thanks anyways. Commented Jan 27, 2021 at 20:35

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