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Why does my Mutt black background look gray?

Background

My color settings look like:

color normal white black
color message white black
color hdrdefault cyan black
color attachment yellow black

color index cyan black "~Q"

# Unread messages in yellow
color index brightgreen black "~N"
color index brightgreen black "~O"

# Deleted messages in a dark color
color index blue black "~D"

# Flagged messages in red
color index brightred black "~F"


# Color information about the sender
color header brightgreen black "From: "
color header brightgreen black "To: "
color header brightgreen black "Cc: "
color header brightred black "Subject: "
color header brightcyan black "date: "

# Color the first levels of quoted text
color quoted green black
color quoted1 cyan black
color quoted2 green black
color quoted3 cyan black

# identifies email addresses
color body  brightred black [\-\.+_a-...@[\-\.a-zA-Z0-9]+

# identifies URLs
color body  brightblue black (https?|s?ftp)://[\-\.,/%~_:?&=\#\(\)\+a-zA-Z0-9]+


# GnuPG
color body black red "BAD signature .*$"

# Tag a good signature
color body brightgreen black "Good signature .*$"

# Inform the signature can't be verified
color body brightred black "Can't check signature: public key not found"
color body brightred black "WARNING: .*!"
color body brightred black "some signal caught ... exiting"
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

black is only a name for \e[40m; the real color to be shown is determined by your terminal's configuration.

If you use GNOME Terminal (I'm guessing by the color #2E3436), Edit - Profile Preferences - Colors - Palette.

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Instead of black you can use default which should effectively be transparent. For example my config looks like this:

color normal  white default
color attachment brightyellow default
color hdrdefault cyan default
color indicator black cyan
color markers brightred default
color quoted  green default
color signature cyan default
color status  brightgreen blue
color tilde blue default
color tree  red default

color index red default ~P
color index red default ~D
color index magenta default ~T

color header brightgreen default ^From:
color header brightcyan default ^To:
color header brightcyan default ^Reply-To:
color header brightcyan default ^Cc:
color header brightblue default ^Subject:

color body  brightred default [\-\.+_a-zA-Z0-9]+@[\-\.a-zA-Z0-9]+
# identifies email addresses

color body  brightblue default (https?|ftp)://[\-\.,/%~_:?&=\#a-zA-Z0-9]+
# identifies URLs
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