I like simple, uncluttered desktops, and I realized a long time ago that I
was among a very small group of users for doing so. Most of the computer background
desktops that I see are usually filled with documents, links and programs to a
point that I wonder how these users ever find what they’re looking for.
Well, I’m sure they find their documents eventually, but do they really visually search
through the rows of 10×10 icons on their desktop to do so, or do they rely on
the Explorer or Google Desktop for this? On top of this, most users
typically have the picture of a
sunset, a waterfall or their sons playing soccer, further degrading the
readability of whatever text they used to name their documents.
If you have more than twenty icons on your desktop, I am betting that you are
only clicking on four or five of them regularly.
For all these reasons, I like to keep my desktop relatively uncluttered.
All the programs are neatly gathered in the Quick Launch bar and the few icons
that you can see on my background are usually temporary files that I need to
refer to either a lot, or just for the current week.
With that in mind, I recently set out to modify my Mac Book Pro desktop in
order to show my favorite
background: solid black. And I mean black as in 0x000000,
which is the only background color that allows me to identify icons and
texts without any impediments.
So I right-clicked on the background, selected "Change Desktop Background…" and I was presented with a dialog box offering me
various options, among which "Solid colors", which I promptly selected.
The dialog shown above appears, and here is my first surprise: it looks
like I have a choice of ten preset backgrounds, but solid black is not one of
them. "No problems", I think, I’ll just find the color chooser and I’ll
set the color myself.
Problem is… there is no such thing.
That’s right: no color chooser.
Mac OS X won’t let you set your background to an arbitrary solid color:
you have to choose one that Apple decided for you. And by the way, did you
notice the dotted rectangle above? It represents a solid white background.
The trouble is… this dotted line is not shown in reality (it was added
manually to this picture). The background is there for you to select, but
it’s completely invisible because shown as white on white. How silly is
Anyway, back to my problem.
I can’t select my own background color. That’s pretty retarded.
You know, I can almost imagine what went on in the meeting room when this
decision was made:
Steve Jobs: "Okay, I want the following ten choices for
background colors: dark gray, solid aqua blue, …."
UI designer: "Great, we’ll give the user a quick way to select
the colors that work best with our Aqua theme. Where shall we put the
"There shall be no color chooser."
"There shall be no color chooser."
"But… What if they don’t like any of these preset colors?"
"I don’t care. The Mac OS desktop is the quintessence of beauty.
I don’t want any of our tasteless users to ruin it with their own crappy
<uncomfortable silence, then forced grin> "Ah… good one sir…
Very funny. Now, seriously…?"
"I was being serious."
So you can’t choose your own background color on Mac OS. That’s the way
it is. Of course, there are workarounds, such as creating a 1×1 image and
use it as a tiled background as explained
but if I hear one more time that Mac OS is the most advanced desktop currently,
I’ll simply challenge the zealot to set the background color of their desktop to
solid magenta and watch her suffer in agony while I enjoy my black Windows
desktop which took me all of three seconds to configure.