HTML Colors

Color Modes

Most personal computers ( PCs ) offer a choice of settings for screen size and color depth. The amount of memory available to drive the display is fixed, but users can choose a large screen size ( resolution ) with a reduced number of colors, or a smaller screen size with the maximum number of colors.

The table on the right shows the choice of color modes and resolutions which might be found on a low-specification PC. The table below shows the standard range of color modes. Note that 32 bit color mode doesn’t increase the number of colors available, but it does allow video memory to be updated faster.

Maximum colors Bits per pixel Comments
16 4 bit Virtually obsolete
256 8 bit 216 web-safe colors
65 536 16 bit High Color
16 777 216 24 bit True Color
16 777 216 32 bit True Color

Web Safe Colors

A few years ago, when most computers supported only 256 different colors, a list of 216 Web Safe Colors was suggested as a Web standard. The reason for this was that Microsoft and Mac operating system used 40 different “reserved” fixed system colors (about 20 each).
We are not sure how important this is now, since more and more computers are equipped with the ability to display millions of different colors, but the choice is left to you.

216 Cross Platform Colors

The color management system currently used by Web browser software is based on an 8-bit, 216-color (not 256) palette. The browser-safe color palette is a solution devised by Netscape to solve the problem of displaying color graphics in a similar way on many kinds of display screens, with browsers running under different operating systems (such as Macintosh, Windows, and UNIX). Because a majority of the Web audience years ago had 8-bit display screens, 256 colors was the upper limit for the color palette. But the various versions of the Windows operating system (which currently represent about 95 percent of the microcomputer market) reserve 40 colors for displaying such graphic interface elements as windows, menus, screen wallpaper, icons, and buttons, which leaves just 216 colors to display everything else. The 216 colors chosen by Netscape are identical in both the Macintosh and Windows system palettes. Although the browser-safe color scheme originated at Netscape, at present both of the dominant Web browsers (Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer) use the same color management system.
Most Web users have computers and monitors set to “thousands” or “millions” of colors, so the importance of the so-called Web-safe palette has sharply diminished in the past few years. When the user has a monitor set to thousands or millions of colors all colors display properly, so there is no longer any need to restrict your color choices to the 216 Web-safe colors.

216 Web-safe colors

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