Tech Q&A: Colors, highlighting can make Windows 10 easier to see

Question: Windows 10 has some color issues that make it hard for me to see things on the screen.

My son says my best option is to use “High Contrast,” which changes the screen colors to make them more discernible, but I don’t find it that useful.

I also have a hard time seeing highlighted items in programs such as Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheet. What can I do? — P.W., Maple Grove, Minn.

Answer: You might be dealing with two different visual issues: High-contrast screen colors (that are supposed to improve screen visibility) and highlighting (which identifies the file or text you’re working with.) Both can be improved.

The Windows 10 High Contrast feature rearranges the screen’s color scheme to make it easier to distinguish between objects. The idea is to make it easier to navigate the screen and to improve the visibility of ordinary text, hyperlinks or text that you’ve “defined” so that you can copy, change or delete it.

But if you don’t care for the preset color combinations Microsoft offers you (they are called “themes”), you can customize the color combinations to suit your vision needs (see ).

Or, if you think High Contrast doesn’t help much, there’s an alternate way to change screen colors. The Windows 10 Color Filters (see can modify screen colors or compensate for different types of color blindness.

Highlighting is a key part of Windows. It can help you see a file you want to open, text you want to modify or text that’s more easily viewed in a different color scheme.

But highlighting sometimes stops working if you magnify text on the screen to 125% of original size (a reasonable thing to do if you have vision issues.) Highlighting can fail after a Windows 10 update or when the PC “awakens” from the power-saving “sleep” or “hibernate” modes.

In many of these cases, the cause of highlighting failures is a PC graphics card that is using outdated software. Try updating the card’s firmware (instructions that are stored on the card) and software driver (used to control a PC’s separate devices, such as a graphics card.)

Both should be available for free from the graphics card manufacturer. To find out which company made your PC’s graphics card, search Google for a review of your PC model — reviews usually identify the graphics card. Then search that firm’s website for updates.

Question: Can you recommend a smartphone headset that’s comfortable and has clear sound? — M.Q., Minneapolis

Answer: I don’t recommend brands, but here are some choices:

  • Headphones or earbuds (that fit in your ear). At home, it probably doesn’t matter. If you are outside, headphones probably won’t fit in your pocket, but earbuds will.
  • Wired vs. wireless. Wireless models are more convenient, but the earbuds typically need recharging every five to 11 hours and the headphones every 20 to 30 hours. (For a sample of wired and wireless devices, see
  • Whether to buy a device with built-in noise-cancellation technology. It blocks some noise around you to improve the sound of headphones or earbuds (see