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Basically to see this, all you have to do is hold down the d key and hover the mouse cursor all over a node or modifier and many of the active elements will change to a purple color.

This sometimes happens to me when I've been using the grease pencil to make notes and then move over some part of the UI quickly before I remember to release the 'd' key.

So what is this purple, and how can it be un-purpled?

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    $\begingroup$ Well, after doing some testing on this 'purple-controls' thing I started getting a message read-out at the top right statistics area. A message prompt is showing up there and staying until I click on 1 of 2 choices that have something to do with a 'driver' error state. So that much seems solved. Purple fields would appear to be driver settings that are activated in a way that is similar to how keyframes are used to animate these values which then show up as yellow instead of purple. I suppose this awaits confirmation, and also it would be nice to know how we get rid of this when it happens $\endgroup$ – MarcClintDion Jun 9 '14 at 9:09
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By pressing D over an input field you are telling Blender to create a driver for that value. A driver is a way of controlling one value (the driven value) by another value (the driver). For example you could drive the scale of one object by the rotational value of another.

To remove the driver you can either right-click on the value and choose 'Delete Drivers' or you could:

Navigate to the 'Graph Editor' from any screen area:

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Change the view from 'F-Curve' to 'Drivers':

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Shift select all the driven channels in the list and press X to delete them:

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If you want to view and delete drivers for multiple objects at the same time make sure to toggle off the cursor icon which limits the view to currently selected objects:

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