I just checked in Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer, on Windows, and all three default to blue background and white text when the user highlights some area, perhaps for a search google for, copy or inspect element operation.

What is the reason for this choice? I'm looking for direct info from a browser vendor or strong evidence from elsewhere that supports this choice, rather than opinion.

  • 4
    I'm pretty sure this is an OS-level thing--not a browser implementation.
    – DA01
    Mar 8, 2015 at 23:23
  • @DA01 ok, I don't think that effects the ux element of the question
    – Toni Leigh
    Mar 8, 2015 at 23:25
  • 1
    Probably not. I don't know the answer, but have a strong hunch it is "because someone on the OS UI team decided to make it that way"
    – DA01
    Mar 8, 2015 at 23:27
  • 1
    If you don't like it, there's a CSS pseudo-element [::selection], which allows you to change the color of selected text highlight.
    – dnbrv
    Mar 9, 2015 at 0:22
  • just checked my Mac at work and it's a lighter blue with dark grey
    – Toni Leigh
    Mar 9, 2015 at 8:51

2 Answers 2


This is also just an opinion but it is based on some facts.

Just like @DA01 has a hunch on question comments, most probable answer is "because someone on the OS UI team decided to make it that way". But why such a choice was made? The same can be asked about links, why they are blue.

I have always explained the reason for these color choises to be the limitations of the hardware. Some might remember that back in the day monitors (graphic cards) had a little less colors on their disposal.

In two-tone you probably use inverted colors to show the selection. With 16 colours you use something else (other than black when text is black or white when text is white), thou the palette is limited. So someone decided on blue because it seemed more neutral than red or green.

  • No idea if it's true, but certainly a plausible theory!
    – DA01
    Apr 8, 2015 at 21:44

I don't think it's a random choice, Red and green are the colours most affected by colour-vision deficiency. Almost no one has a blue deficiency. And (but I doubt that's that) we use Blue because of science : http://www.fastcompany.com/3009317/why-is-facebook-blue-the-science-behind-colors-in-marketing

  • But it's a highlight color. All that is important is that it's different than the non-highlighted text. As such, colorblindness isn't an issue in this context.
    – DA01
    Apr 8, 2015 at 21:43

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