Keyboard Equivalent for Menu Choices Too Gray

I hope I haven’t given up on my search too quick to see this topic already covered. Anyway, I’m pretty old and my vision is not what it used to be. A couple of system releases ago the Mac began to display keyboard equivalents for menu choices very gray, even if the menu items are available. The point is that I can’t see them easily even when I can read the menus. Is there a way to customize Accessibility settings to affect this display feature without changing the overall appearance of the interface? I’m using latest macOS, 14.4, I think. Thanks.


I agree. It comes up on many forums, including TidBITS, from time to time. As far as I know, Apple has decided not to offer an option to re-enable black text for the keyboard shortcuts.

I suggest treating it as an “accessibility” issue and providing feedback via the Apple’s accessibility support page. Perhaps the accessibility team has more influence over something that the design team may see as “decided.”


You can try Settings / Accessibility / Display and turn on increase contrast. That, as far as I can tell, is all that darkens the keyboard hints. But, yes, it also changes the interface to be a lot more, well, “contrasty”.


Ok, thanks.

Yes, thanks. I don’t like the way the entire interface looks if I adjust enough to make the keyboard equivalents easy to see.

I spent a little time on workarounds. Accessibility shortcut does not include toggling “increase contrast”. I may resort to trying to create a macro or shortcut that will launch “System Settings”, select “Accessibility”, select “Display” and click the switch for “Increase Contrast”. I don’t think I could ever accept making that setting the default, but it does help me read the menu equivs. I don’t know, I might have to force myself to get used to it.

It occurred to me that I could point out for those who might not realize: toggling “Increase contrast” in System Settings>Accessibility>Display accomplishes a separate function from adjusting the slider in System Settings>Accessibility>Display>Display contrast. I consider the name for the toggle (“Increase contrast”) to be misleading, although that may describe part of its function.

One solution that has been mentioned here some times is CheatSheet. It will show you all shortcuts in an application with high contrast. I have not had time to try it out yet.


Thanks. There’s KeyCue as well, and while I’m resorting to workarounds, I might as well consider those kinds of things, too.


I will say one other thing about CheatSheet. It inserts itself into your login items without asking. I’ll just ask you to take my word that I didn’t start this thread to promote my blog, but that made me glad I wrote an AppleScript for managing login items in Cheetah (that was over 20 years ago), and it works just as well in Sonoma as it did then. if you’re interested, you can read it, learn from it, and use it if you like to quickly see where your login items are or delete them. It’s free, you just have to take the luck of the draw with the ads they display on free WordPress sites.
Login Items List


Sorry, but since I am not a scripter and after reading the instructions I am confused and don’t understand the need for such a program. First of all, I have never seen login items in the Finder, having owned Mac’s since the Mac II. The only place I have ever seen login items is in the System Preferences now called System Settings. That is not the Finder but a system App. True, login items often make themselves noticeable after launch in the menu bar, contextual menu, or window. Furthermore I do not see why a script is need to remove them from the login items list. All that is needed is to open the list in Preferences or Settings, select the item from the list, and then click the ‘minus’ sign at the bottom of the list. For those Apps that have a startup setting, just uncheck the box in the App’s settings. Perhaps I am missing something but I simply do not understand what it is or the instructions are unclear to exactly what the script actually does that cannot be done without it.

What I am missing which Apple took away is the ability to change the load order of the login items. That for me would be a very useful script.

Personal preference, but I enable System Settings ➤ Accessibility ➤ Display ➤ Increase contrast on every Mac I use. This setting has the effect of also enabling the Reduce transparency setting as well.

Combined, it steps back from the (to me) gratuitous use of transparency across the Mac user interface. Most noticeable in the menu bar (where transparency seems like an obvious step backwards in usability), but pretty much every change it makes seems like a subtle improvement.

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You can paste the script into a Script Editor window to try it, then save it as a script or an application if you decide that it’s worth keeping. I guess (although it could change later today, AFAIK) that its only advantage might be that it has worked for 20 years, allowing you to sidestep the task of keeping up with wherever Apple has put access to the functionality.

I’m glad to see someone else has this issue. When I first noticed it, however long ago, I thought something was wrong. Then I just shrugged and figured it was one of those bad design decisions. Seriously… what’s the point? So I just squint and bear it. And use KeyCue.

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I made a macro for toggling it in Keyboard Maestro. To me it’s similar to making a theme change when that was possible under the Classic OS and even the Aqua interface during the pre-teens. Lots of things seem very different, but it’s acceptable for a while when needed.

I tried increasing contrast under System Settings/Accessibility/Display and it seemed to help a little, but I haven’t had much problems in TidBits for a while. I starated using f.lux a while back and wonder if that might be helping. Or perhaps I adjusted it was something else I fiddled with a while back.

I think your reply calls attention to the issue I mentioned for the similarity of name for the toggle switch labeled “Increase contrast” and the sliding adjustment for increasing or decreasing contrast labeled “Display contrast”. The “Increase contrast” toggle switch makes instantaneous changes to several appearance features of the interface. The slider labeled “Display contrast” can be used to change overall screen contrast by degree. Have you tried the “Increase contrast” toggle switch alone to observe characteristics of appearance when it is enabled as opposed to characteristics of appearance when it is not?

I tried that and at first I still didn’t notice anything. Then I noticed that moving from low to high made both the vertical fine line on the right side of the Display box and the thick gray line beside it that marks the area shown on the screen disappear. So what’s happening may be that the adjustment works for grays but not for blacks. It also could be an artifact of my aging eyes. Thanks,

HELP - I tried fiddling around with color choices and now have really weird colors, with pinkish red dominating everything. How can I go back to the default color scheme? Or is there a way to reset preferences in Time Machine to – say – 8 a.m. this morning?
I’m on Ventura

I’m not sure I follow you exactly. There are a few ways to make changes to colors that can change the colors you see for the whole appearance scheme. There is a reset button near the bottom of the Display page in System Settings>Accessibility. I can’t be sure that will remove all of your unwanted adjustments.

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