Customize the Mac Finder Window Background

Jun 28, 2010 - 14 Comments

mac window background color

Did you know that you can customize the backgrounds of any Finder windows in Mac OS X? In the screenshot above, the Finder windows are set to match the color of the Finder window sidebar. Changing the window background color is a somewhat unknown feature even to frequent Mac users, as reader Karim S reminded us when he wrote in asking: “I was wondering if you have any tips to change the background color of the finder’s windows. I would like to see the white turned into a light grey.” Setting the Finder window background to something is easy once you learn how, and here’s how to do it:

How to customize the Finder window background in Mac OS X

  • To customize the background of a Finder window, open any window
  • Once inside a Finder window, hit Command+J or navigate from the ‘View’ menu to ‘Show View Options’
  • From the View Options, select ‘Color’ or ‘Picture’ under the Background submenu
  • Using the color picker, select the color you want to use for window backgrounds. If you are setting a picture, navigate to the picture you want to set as the background
  • If you want ALL Finder windows to have this custom background, click on ‘Set as Default’
  • Changes take effect immediately, and you’ll see the new color or background picture in all windows
  • Close View Options

That’s all there is to it. In Karim’s case he would want to set a grey background and then click on “Set as Default” so that all Finder windows have the same background.

You can easily remove the background customization and reverse whatever changes you made by just opening View Options again and selecting the ‘White’ background, which is the Mac OS default setting.

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Posted by: William Pearson in Customize, Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. Sheryl says:

    Am I missing something? I opened a Finder window and — both by using Command J and by using the View menu to select Show View Options — I just got a window with limited options, none of which include Color or Background. My only options on the resulting windows are:
    ~ checkbox for “Always open in column view”
    ~ “Text size” drop-down
    ~ checkboxes for “Show icons,” “Show icons preview,” and “Show preview column”
    ~ “Arrange by” drop-down
    Is this the right Show View Options window?

    • Joe says:

      I’m with you. I get nothing like whats in the photo.

      • Tomge says:


        You’ve got to choose “show as icons” in the titlebar.
        Then press ‘cmd + j’ and now you should be able to change colors or set a picture. Keep in mind, your picture won’t be resized… so your picture is too large or too small ;-)

    • drydogs says:

      Make sure you have a Finder window open, preferably like your home folder and in icon view.

      You’re in the right view options menu, it’s actually a floating window and will change to accommodate the selected window whatever it may be in the Finder, but again no icon view = no custom background.

      I have mine set similar to OP picture, but I use a gradient background I created and it looks nice.

  2. HC says:

    I really wish I could set a picture as background in my terminal, just like I used to in Ubuntu… :S

  3. oscar says:

    is there anyway of changing the text colour in each folder window in this way? i changed the background image to something very dark and now i can’t see the text unless i highlight it.

  4. jedics says:

    thanks a bunch for this, my 25 inch was burning my retinas out.

    Weird how u only see this option in icon view, which is why I never new about it as I use column view always.

    Now if I can just find a way to do this for firefox and every other app that uses white actually I will be a happy man :)

  5. Cary Rader says:

    My window is in icon mode and I have the ‘show view options’ window open and I can see the box labeled
    0 white
    0 color
    0 picture
    But unfortunately it is disabled (greyed out) so I can’t make the changes. This is true only in some of my windows. Do you have any suggestion how to enable this option? Thanks

    • Rui Valente says:

      I don’t know why but if you organize a folder by any criteria (name, size, etc.) the background colour defaults to white and the background box will be grayed out in the view options. If anyone knows a workaround for this, please let me know.

  6. Livia says:

    Why my finder window don’t show the “search for” items? I can find it even in the system preferences!

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