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mac finderApple is famous for its simple, clean and minimalist look on their products. Not only the hardware, but also the user interface of its operating system and applications. I’m sure most Mac users are fine with that, otherwise they wouldn’t choose Mac, would they?

But some people – especially those who switched from the Windows world – are accustomed to an interface makeover and want to change their Mac appearance every once in a while.

Mac OS X comes with features that will allow you to change its look. Even though these features are not on the extreme level, they are sufficient to give your feline a fresh new look.


Here are several quick things that you can do to change the face of the app that Mac users use the most: Finder.

(Slightly) Alter The Appearance

Logically, when we want to change the System Appearance, the best place to start is the “System Preferences – Appearance“, isn’t it? Surprisingly, there are only two options available here.

mac finder

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There’s “Appearance” which consist of two options: Blue and Graphite. This option will only change the Red-Orange-Green button on the top left of every window to shades of Grey.

apple finder

And there’s also “Highlight color” that will change the – um – highlight color of selected item(s) in the Finder.

apple finder

So you can choose another color aside from the default blue.

apple finder

Playing With Icons & Colors

You can change a folder’s or another Finder Item’s icon with another icon just by dragging and dropping. To do that, right-click the item/folder that you want to change and choose “Get Info” (or select the folder and hit “Command + I“).

02a Get Info.jpg

Then after the Info window is open, drag and drop the icon that you want to use to replace the icon located on the top left corner of the window.

We’ve discussed this topic more comprehensively How To Create & Change Mac Icons Quickly & Easily How To Create & Change Mac Icons Quickly & Easily Read More before so be sure to check that article out.

Info window is also the place to change the color code. Choose a color from the “Label” and your Finder item(s) will be coded in color.

02c Color Code.jpg

It’s a nice and colorful way to group similar folders or finder items.

02d Colorful Finder Items.jpg

Go Inside The Folder

If you go inside the folder, you can customize other things such as the font and icon size and the background. Hit Command + J (or Right Click and choose “Show View Options“) to open the “View Options” window.

02e Show View Options.jpg

From this window you can change the icon size (small or large) and the size of the font (from 10 up to 16). There are also checkboxes giving you options on what columns you want to display.

02f View Options 1.jpg

If you want to apply the settings to other folders, click the “Use as Defaults” button.

But something amazing happens when you switch from the list view to icon view.

02g Icon View.jpg

The View Options window will give you other different options, such as sliders to change the icon size and the grid spacing, icons arrangement, and the ability to change the background.

02h In The Icon view.jpg

You can choose to use the default white as the background, or you can change it to one of the available colors from the color picker. Click the “Color” radio button within the “Background” section of View Option window and click the color box to summon the “Color Picker” window.

02i Color Background.jpg

You can also use an image as the background. Click the “Picture” radio button and click the image box to browse for the image file that you want to use. You can also drag and drop any image from the Finder to this image box.

02j Use Picture As Background.jpg

And you will have a unique folder that you can brag about to your friends.

mac finder

This customization is perfect to quickly tell you what kind of content the folder has. For example, if you saved your 2009 Christmas holiday pictures inside a folder, you can use one of the pictures as the background.

But please note that the background image size is static and can only be applied in the icon view. Meaning, it will not be resized automatically when you resize the Finder window and will disappear when you switch the view.

And another thing is, I also found out that you can’t use an image larger than the screen size as the background. So you might need to resize the image a little bit to fit the background.

Have you tried customizing Finder? Do you have your own tips and tricks to customize Finder’s appearance? Share your thoughts and opinions using the comments below.

  1. Hephases Birch
    November 7, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Nice guide, good tips that most seasoned users should -hopefully- know. I tried the background image in finder windows trick (had forgotten about that) and although I really enjoyed the change, it dramatically increased the time required to open a window (Core2Duo iMac). I tried reducing the image size; didn't seem to make much difference. Too bad, I used a mostly white snow day image - it really looked great, but gearhead that I am, the speed hit wasn't worth it.
    Thanks for a great article.

  2. Hephases Birch
    November 7, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Nice guide, good tips that most seasoned users should -hopefully- know. I tried the background image in finder windows trick (had forgotten about that) and although I really enjoyed the change, it dramatically increased the time required to open a window (Core2Duo iMac). I tried reducing the image size; didn't seem to make much difference. Too bad, I used a mostly white snow day image - it really looked great, but gearhead that I am, the speed hit wasn't worth it.
    Thanks for a great article.

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