How to make third-party menu bar icons look better with dark mode on Mac

By , Feb 26, 2015

Dark Mode Menu Bar Compare

OS X Yosemite introduced a new dark mode option to change the tint color of both the menu bar and the dock in OS X. While I’m a big fan of dark mode, some of the third-party apps that I use have not been updated to play nice with dark mode. This results in menu bar icons that look weird with dark mode enabled, because they don’t invert after toggling dark mode on.

If you’re someone who always uses dark mode and never switches to regular mode, there is a way to force these menu bar icons to look better with dark mode enabled…

Note: this is a quick fix for those of you who plan on always using OS X’s dark mode. If you like switching back and forth between light and dark mode, then this tutorial won’t really address the problem. Instead, contact the app developer and ask them to fix the issue. Actually, you might want to do that anyway, and use this as a temporary workaround.

Step 1: Right click on the application associated with the menu bar icon in /Applications, and click Show Package Contents

Show package contents

Step 2: Navigate to /Contents/Resources and locate the menu bar icon

Step 3: Right click on the icon image and select Copy

Step 4: On your desktop, right click, hold the Alt/Option (⌥) key on the keyboard, and select Move Item Here

Step 5: If requested, enter your administrator password and click OK

Step 6: Open the image that’s now on the desktop using Preview

Step 7: In Preview’s menu bar, click Tools → Adjust Color

Preview invert adjust color

Step 8: Use the sliders at the top of the Adjust Color interface to invert the black and white colors found in the image. Drag the right slider fully to the left side and drag the left slider fully to the right side

Step 9: Close Preview

Step 10: Drag the image from the desktop back to the /Contents/Resources folder of the application associated with the menu bar icon that you wish to modify

Step 11: If requested, click Authenticate, enter your administrator password and click OK

Step 12: Quit the application associated with the menu bar icon that you wish to change and then restart the app

Now you should be able to enjoy dark mode full time and have third-party menu bar icons that look as if they belong there. Be sure to watch the full video walkthrough embedded above to see the entire process performed step-by-step.

What do you think? Do you use dark mode on your Mac? Have you encountered any third-party app icons that cause similar problems?

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  • 9to5Slavery

    Awesome

  • Kr00

    I use menumeter to keep a watch on the CPU so this trick won’t work unfortunately.

    • Brandon D

      i used to use menumeters….until i stumbled upon iStat. way, way better than menumeters. you can change both the color of your graphs/numbers, as well as the drop down menus. very highly recommend you try it. Well worth it, for sure.

      • Kr00

        Cheers. I’ve been using Miniusage, not as extensive as istat, but does the job.

  • Elias

    Another great tip! If switch mode frequently you could simply keep the original one and switch them out whenever you change between Dark/light mode.

    • peto7532159

      I think it would be too much work for every change, especially if you switch modes frequently. But maybe someome would be able to make some Automator script or AppleScript or something similar that would automatically alter the files and restart an app everytime you change mode…

  • peto7532159

    you guys at iDB are AWESOME!

  • Hmmm

    Dude… The menu bar icon i want to change has lots of diff ones in the folder. like multiple versions and they’re not al the same… some are pure black and some are light grey….

    • Bruce Milyko

      I have more then one like that too.

  • I came here to read about Net Neutrality and all I find instead is pointless articles about changing menu colors? WTF!

  • Skoven

    Thanks for the guide.
    I have encountered one (so far) that doesn’t switch to darkmode (or should i say lightmode?), and that’s OneDrive by Microsoft… of course…

    • Of course 🙂

    • Brandon D

      there was an update a few days ago for OneDrive,.. in the changelog, one thing it fixes is adds a white icon for dark mode.

  • James G

    Great tip.

  • Julian

    I’ve used this similar tip to change my folders to different colors. It adds character to the desktop. Jeff, maybe you’d wanna check that out. Let me know 🙂

  • Tweetbot and other apps crash after make the icon change

    • Same problem.

  • john diaz

    I prefer the dark mode now. thanks Jeff!

  • IMCHEN

    super useful!!!!

  • kokeropie

    Much anticipated tip of the year
    Finally my menu bar looks a lot better….thanks for the tip 🙂

  • Fayssal Bel

    it’s really hard to do this with OneDrive

  • Alan Tocheri

    Thanks! Mint, and TVShows look like crap. Chrome Notifications too, but that might get fixed sooner than the other two

  • save the old icon in case you want to switch back to normal mode

  • Alejandro Maximo Marez

    I’ve tried this with ToneSync and FreeMemory… no success.

  • Won’t the original icons revert back when you update the app?

  • basilis

    thanx