Change A Website To Black And White With (un)clrd

(un)clrd removes all the color information from a website at the touch of a button, turning it into black and white. This could be useful for those who suffer from color blindness (up to 10% of men do).

It may also benefit those with a black and white themed desktop – or if you just want to tone down garish colors on a particular website. This browser add-on for Firefox and Google Chrome works slightly differently on each so I’ll review both versions separately.

(un)clrd for Firefox – available to install from Mozilla Add-ons here. No restart is required after installation.

It adds an (un)clrd icon to the navigation bar – press it to instantly change the view of the current webpage to black and white (the icon changes color too). When the button is in black and white mode, if you navigate to a new page it is shown in color initially but is automatically (and very quickly) refreshed to black and white.

Therefore the add-on is primarily designed for a single webpage but you can also use it if you want all web pages during a browsing session to appear in black and white – although the refresh effect may be a little jarring.

Videos: The effect on embedded videos is different depending on the site – YouTube videos do not change to black and white but videos from some other sites tested do change e.g. PopCornFlix.

There don’t appear to be any hard-coded rules within the add-on to determine this behavior so, presumably, whether videos change to black and white depends on the exact technical method using to stream them (or it’s a bug).

Web links: links to other webpages are in a different shade of grey to the main page text so it is still fairly easy to identify them in black and white mode.

unclrd

Example black and white page

(un)clrd for Chrome –  available to install from Chrome Web Store here.

It works in a similar way to the Firefox version by adding an (un)clrd icon to the address bar. As in Firefox, navigating to a new page whilst in black and white mode causes an automatic refresh of the page after the initial color version.

Videos: unlike in Firefox, YouTube videos do change to black and white, and videos from other sites I tested. So it appears that color is removed from all videos when in black and white mode. It is unclear if this is the developer’s intention i.e. the way Firefox handles some videos in black and white mode is a bug, or vice versa.

Web links: links to other webpages are in a different shade of grey to the main page text.

Errors: when visiting a website from a Google search (with colors disabled) I found that occasionally some did not appear in black and white – refreshing the page or toggling the (un)clrd icon off and back on resolved this.

Tip: I will add this add-on to my ongoing list of quick tips for color blind users.

Conclusion

(un)clrd provides a quick way to view webpages in black and white.

The main difference between the versions for Firefox and Chrome is how videos are treated. Firefox automatically keeps some streaming site videos in color whilst viewing webpages in black and white – Chrome users would need to toggle the icon back on to show the video (and whole page) in color. Each method has its own merits depending on your preferences.