MacOS Mojave allows you to set a range of accent colors

macOS Mojave doesn’t just provide a dramatic darkened look and UI styling, it also lets you choose between a range of custom accent colors for common user interface elements such as app menus, popup menus, dialog boxes, the menu bar, radio buttons and more.

The original version of Mac OS X used blue window chrome.

The graphite option was added later because creative professionals and developers were complaining that the bright blue highlights caused distractions when working in the dark.

UI color customization was first implemented nearly thirty years ago with the release of Mac OS 7 in May 1991, which brought out a newly colorized, optional user interface shown below.

Custom highlight and window colors in Mac OS 7

Custom highlight and window colors in Mac OS 7

Fast forward to 2018 and macOS Mojave now lets you select the accent color.

What is accent color?

The accent color affects the following user interface elements:

  • App menus at the top
  • Popup menus
  • Menu bar in the top right corner
  • Radio buttons
  • Text and file selections
  • Focus fields
  • Other parts of the operating system

Choosing your desired accent color automatically changes your highlight color accordingly. The highlight color is limited to the files you select in the Finder, text selections in apps like Safari and Mail, and more. With macOS Mojave, you can choose a desired highlight color that’s different from the accent color.

TIPS: Selecting multiple files on your Mac

For instance, you could opt for the green accent color and then set your highlight color to red to make those Finder selections stand out.

The accent color can even be used to distinguish between the different user account types in macOS. For instance, a savvy user  could set the accent color red for their admin account and green when for those times when they log in with non-admin privileges.

How to adjust the accent color on Mac

To customize the macOS accent color, do the following:

1) Open System Preferences on your Mac with macOS Mojave or newer.

2) Click the General tab.

3) Click a desired color next to “Accent color” at the top.

The following built-in choices are available:

  • Blue
  • Red
  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Purple
  • Pink
  • Gray

4) Close out System Preferences.

The default accent and highlight color is blue.

TUTORIAL: How to enable Dark Mode on your Mac

Customizing the accent color automatically chooses the right highlight color. As mentioned, the accent and highlight color don’t have to be the same.

You can customize your highlight color independently of the main accent color in macOS Mojave

Although the highlight color matches your accent color, it can be set separately

For instance, I have configured my Mac to paint the various user interface elements gray, but my highlight color is a reddish hue so I can distinguish more easily between the selected and non-selected files in the Finder and other items.

Choosing your highlight color

macOS uses the highlight color to render the text you select in apps, files in the Finder and more.

To choose your highlight color, do the following:

1) Open System Preferences on your Mac with macOS Mojave or newer.

2) Click the General tab.

3) Click a desired color next to “Accent color” at the top.

The following built-in choices are at your disposal:

  • Blue
  • Red
  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Purple
  • Pink
  • Brown
  • Gray
  • Other

The highlight color automatically changes to match your accent color. However, as I mentioned earlier, you are free to customize your highlight and accent color independently of each other—simply choose a different highlight color after picking the accent color.

The Finder showing a non-adjacent file selection in the red highlights color

The highlight color affects text, file and other selections

There are two additional options available for the highlight color, brown and Other, with the latter letting you choose a custom custom color as the highlight color.

I wish the accent color included the Other option as well…

Examples of the built-in accent colors

I went through all of the available color choices for the accent color and screenshotted each, in both Light and Dark Mode, so you can see how the accent color, highlight color, Light/Dark mode and Dynamic Desktop correlate and like when combined together.

macOS Mojave Light Mode with the blue accent and highlight color

Light Mode with the blue accent and highlight color

macOS Mojave Light Mode with the red accent and highlight color

Light Mode with the red accent and highlight color

macOS Mojave Light Mode with the orange accent and highlight color

Light Mode with the orange accent and highlight color

macOS Mojave Light Mode with the yellow accent and highlight color

Light Mode with the yellow accent and highlight color

macOS Mojave Light Mode with the green accent and highlight color

Light Mode with the green accent and highlight color

macOS Mojave Light Mode with the purple accent and highlight color

Light Mode with the purple accent and highlight color

macOS Mojave Light Mode with the pink accent and highlight color

Light Mode with the pink accent and highlight color

macOS Mojave Light Mode with the gray accent and highlight color

Light Mode with the gray accent and highlight color

macOS Mojave Dark Mode with the blue accent and highlight color

Dark Mode with the blue accent and highlight color

macOS Mojave Dark Mode with the red accent and highlight color

Dark Mode with the red accent and highlight color

macOS Mojave Dark Mode with the orange accent and highlight color

Dark Mode with the orange accent and highlight color

macOS Mojave Dark Mode with the yellow accent and highlight color

Dark Mode with the yellow accent and highlight color

macOS Mojave Dark Mode with the green accent and highlight color

Dark Mode with the green accent and highlight color

macOS Mojave Dark Mode with the purple accent and highlight color

Dark Mode with the purple accent and highlight color

macOS Mojave Dark Mode with the pink accent and highlight color

Dark Mode with the pink accent and highlight color

macOS Mojave Dark Mode with the gray accent and highlight color

Dark Mode with the gray accent and highlight color

What’s your favorite look, and why?

Making it all work together

The new Dark Mode, along with the Dynamic Desktop feature and the ability to choose between a range of accent colors, allow for some cool customization options—and that’s a pretty big deal considering Apple has traditionally neglected user customization on Macs (no wonder apps like ShapeShifter were tremendously popular back in the early days of Mac OS X).

Be that as it may, the accent color is a promising new feature for your Mac with room for improvement.

As an example, I wish there were a way to have macOS automatically match the accent color based on the colors found in the desktop background, like Windows 10. Better yet, why not have the accent color automatically change with the different cycling wallpapers?

Indeed, an avid Mac user could put together a quick script that would grab a new wallpaper every day and adjust the accent color based on the new image’s predominant colors.

Screenshot top of post via Reddit user mdnz

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