How to disable transparency effects on your Mac


The release of OS X Yosemite in 2014 gave the Mac’s user interface a fresh coat of paint in part through adopting much of the transparency effects that Apple added to iOS 7 in prior year.

Transparency is used throughout macOS and can be observed on the desktop and seen in drop-down menus, title bars, sidebars and toolbars.

This post will teach you how to disable transparency for all user interface elements that have a translucent appearance on your Mac.

Why reduce transparency throughout macOS

It’s of course a matter of personal preference.

Not everyone is a fan of translucency effects, which Apple uses subtly to let users see what’s behind their active windows. Still, there are definitely people out there who find macOS’ frosted glass appearance overbearing.

Also, the nostalgic types who’ve become accustomed to years of macOS’ understated grey appearance may have trouble getting used to transparent UI elements.

Here’s an example of how drop-down menus appear with transparency enabled…

Transparency on Mac

…and without transparency. As shown, after reducing transparency certain UI elements like menus will no longer pick up color cues from content behind them.

Same menu without transparency - reduce transparency mac

Although transparency on Mac is realized through GPU-accelerated graphics, these effect take a toll on the battery so that’s something to consider as well. In that regard, disabling transparency may even boost the frame rates of the user interface, especially on older hardware.

People who suffer from motion sickness may also prefer a more opaque appearance of their Mac’s operating system. Whatever your reason for hating frosted glass appearance may be, here’s how you can reduce transparency effects throughout macOS.

How to reduce transparency of the Mac’s user interface

Step 1: Launch System Preferences on your Mac.

Step 2: Select the Accessibility preference pane.

Reduce Transparency Mac

Step 3: Click Display in the lefthand column.

Step 4: Tick the box next to the Reduce transparency option.

This will turn the transparent areas of the desktop and app windows gray so instead of the default UI elements like a transparent Dock…

Dock Transparent

…You’ll now have an opaque one.

Dock Opaque -reduce transparency mac

Transparent window elements like sidebars…

Windows Transparent Mac

…will adopt an opaque appearance.

Windows Opaque Mac - reduce transparency mac

Windows titlebars that used to be transparent in apps such as Photos…

Photos app Transparent

…will no longer provide visual cues as to what’s behind them.

Photos app Opaque

You can also make the borders of buttons, boxes, and other items on the screen darker to make them more visible by ticking the box next to the Increase Contrast option in System Preferences → Accessibility → Display.

Increase Contrast on Mac

What are your feelings on transparency on Mac? Would you choose opaqueness over transparency or are you content with macOS’ frosted glass appearance?

For more customizations, check out how to change the look of Terminal on your Mac.

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