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Safe Colors

The Windows and Macintosh operating systems each have their own default set of 256 colors, of which 216 colors are shared by both systems. These 216 colors are known as the safe colors, because there will be no adverse affects when these colors are displayed on either operating system. When using the hexadecimal system for the safe colors, there are only 6 color intensities for each of the additive primaries, red green, and blue (6 x 6 x 6 = 216), instead of the 256 levels for each primary in 24-bit color. Because there are only 6 intensities, each of the three primary color components must be one of the following values:

00  or  33  or  66  or  99  or  CC  or  FF

The table below shows how these hexadecimal values relate to the intensity of light they represent, both as a percentage and as a number value (0-255) for the red, green, and blue color components.

Hexadecimal Value

Percentage of Light Intensity

RGB Number Value

00

0%

0

33

20%

51

66

40%

102

99

60%

153

CC

80%

204

FF

100%

255


If you use these values for your Web colors, you should not have to worry about any adverse affects when the colors are displayed on different operating systems. However, if you use a value not within this 216 color range, then the color may not look the same on different systems. Example, 9D99D2: 9D, which represents the red component, and D2, which represents the blue component, are not hexadecimal values that are listed on the table above, so they are outside of the 216 safe color range. You may want to change the red component to 99, which is close to the 9D value and the blue component to CC, which is the closest value to D2 on the table. This would result in 9999CC, which is a safe color.


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