On my new MacBook Pro (OS 10.8.5) I can set the background color of my Finder windows (as I have been able to do for years with previous OSs.) However, if I then “clean up” or “arrange by” any of the parameters (name, kind, date, size, etc.), the window background color goes to white and cannot be brought back to the color I want (the Background section of the command-J window becomes non-functional. The only way I can go back to the color I desire is to transfer the contents of the finder window to another window, delete the contents of the original window, change the color of the now-empty window and then copy the original contents back to the original window. However, if I later want to arrange or sort/clean up the contents (as often happens), the window background goes to white again and I have to go through the entire process all over again. Is there a way to stop this unwanted change of color? (It happens even when I designate the desired configuration as “Default.”)
Changing the background color of a Finder window on the Mac is one of those rarely used features that sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t. The good news is that when I tested things in the very latest version of Mac OS X 10.9 “Mavericks”, it does seem to be sticky, even across restarts.
However, it’s still the case that there are four different views for a Finder window and only one of them can have a changed background color or photo specified. Even if you do change the background, however, the other views are automatically black text on white, which is a bit weird, but apparently that’s not supposed to be part of the things we can tweak, as you’ve learned.
So let’s have a look at Mavericks and how things work, shall we?
First off, here’s a standard Finder window with its default white background:
Look closely along the top. There are four different views that have shortcuts. The first, four tiny squares, is selected. It’s the file icon view. Then the horizontal lines is a “list view”, the four vertical boxes is a “column view” and the last is the “cover flow” view that proved rather a bit controversial when it was first introduced.
Let’s change the background color in icon view first.
To do that, use the Cmd-J shortcut or choose “Show View Options” from the “View” menu. You get this skinny window:
Lots to tweak and fiddle, but it’s the lowest section we’ll need to pay attention to, “Background”.
Click on “Color” to change the background color and you’ll get the color wheel:
I like the color wheel but, as you can see along the top, there are other color picker options.
I’ll choose the light violet, which makes the Finder window quite attractive:
To continue the experiment, I’ll go back to the View Options window and choose a graphic.
This brings up a tiny drop target area:
But what’s not clear is that the background won’t tile, so if you pick something too small, well, the results are kinda dorky:
That’s fixable, though, and with a different graphic the results are quite festive:
Meanwhile, “list view” still has a white background:
As does column view:
So while the latest OS does at least remember your changed color or photographic background (which is a definite improvement!) the other views are always black text on white. And I don’t see that changing in the near term future.