Simplify the OS X Finder to Look Like a Retro Mac OS Classic Style

Mar 20, 2012 - 10 Comments

Retro Mac OS Desktop and Finder

Many years ago before Mac OS X, the Mac OS Finder was much more simple. There was no toolbar, no sidebar, no drop shadows, and each folder opened in it’s own window showing you only the icons in that Folder. That was basically the default desktop experience from Mac OS 1.0 through Mac OS 9, and you can bring much of that traditional simplified Finder styling to OS X with a few minor adjustments:

Simplify the Finder

Open a Finder window and right-click on the toolbar, select “Hide Toolbar”, while at the same Finder window, hit Command+/ to show the status bar

Ditch Drop Shadows

Use a free third party tool like ShadowKiller to remove shadows from OS X windows and menus

Use Graphite Appearance

In System Preferences’s Appearance panel, choose the Graphite theme to remove the color stoplights and dull down the OS appearance

Use Gray Wallpaper

Select the classic “Solid Gray Medium” desktop background color from System Preferences’s Desktop panel

Hide the Dock

From the OS X desktop, hit Command+Option+D to enable automatic Dock hiding, move the cursor near the bottom of the screen to reveal the Dock

Suddenly OS X Finder looks more akin to retro versions of Mac OS from long ago, and each folder will open in a new window too, behaving like Mac OS System 9 and prior.

Mac OS 7

Mac OS 7 and the latest versions of OS X are now not so far apart, are they?

OS X Retro Style

So going retro is fun and all, but is there a practical reason to simplify the OS X appearance? In some cases, yes. Disabling window shadows and using a plain color background uses less system resources and can actually help to speed up older Macs, though they’d be best combined with some other tips to breathe new life into an old OS X machine.

Mac Pirate Flag desktop wallpaper retro Mac desktop


Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Customize, Mac OS, Retro, Tips & Tricks


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. Hitokiri says:

    When I hide the toolbar folder no longer open in tabs (TotalFinder) but they open in new windows. Is there a way to change this?

  2. […] sorts yourself by applying a few system tweaks. We’ve shown you how to do this before with a retro-inspired Classic Mac OS appearance and making OS X look like iOS, and now we’ll show you how to bring a nice looking modern […]

  3. […] (BTW the light desktop background image looks great with a retro-fied Classic style Mac OS X desktop) […]

  4. TrekCaptainUSA says:

    Never mind, it works fine. No need for alarm.

  5. TrekCaptainUSA says:

    Tried using ShadowKiller. For some reason, it just force quits on me upon launching it.

  6. fancy pants says:

    nerdiest thing I’ve seen all day, how cool.

  7. Ryan says:

    How did you get ShadowKiller to work with what I’m guessing is OS 10.6 or 10.7? That app hasn’t been compatible with a current mac OS since 2006.

  8. scsimodo says:

    How did you get the status bar on top of the finder? Mine is placed on the bottom.

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