Automating Grayscale Mode

In January, I experimented with using the grayscale color filter as the primary mode on my iPhone. I’ve written about the experience over at mnmlist·me, but I wanted to expand on the tech angle of how I made the process much easier with the use of two iOS features; Personal Automations in Shortcuts and the triple-click side button Accessibility shortcut.

Here’s a visual on the setup via the Personal Automation in Shortcuts. The example shows the automation for the photo editing app Darkroom, but you can create it with the same flow for any app. By using toggle in the Set Color Filter action, you avoid having to set a separate explicit “turn on” and “turn off” for the opening vs. closing the app. This is a single automation that covers both events.

Now on to the failsafe method that can be used for any ad-hoc enable and disable of grayscale mode. This is useful for when you’re on a website and need full color or for when the Shortcuts automation doesn’t behave properly for a given application (that does happen, but infrequently).

Here’s the settings for that:

In iOS, the Color Filter setting defaults to Grayscale. There are other options, but unless you have changed it in the past, the above items should all set or unset the grayscale mode. If you see a different behavior in what color profile gets toggled, just search Color Filter in Settings and tap into the menu to check that Grayscale is the option selected.

I didn’t realize until writing this post that when you take screenshots or screen capture recordings, the color profile is ignored. That’s handy, since when sending screenshots to other people, it may confuse them if they are in black and white if they aren’t in the know about your choice to use grayscale mode.

While I’d argue it could be a conversation starter, that’s better in person when someone notices that your screen lacks the vibrance that your life may not (if you’re using grayscale mode for the same reasons I am).