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Create a solid any-color desktop background Desktop
Apple provides 10 or so solid colors to use as backgrounds in the Desktop system prefs panel, but what if you wanted a different shade? There appears to be no way to pick a solid color other than the 10 provided. Starting with a hint submitted by abrin523 and after some follow-up emails, he and I have figured out a fairly simple way to have a color picker available to create a solid background in any color you'd like to use.

In 10.2, when you use a non-screen-sized image in the Desktop prefs picture well, you'll see a pop-up menu offering choices for what to do with the image: Fill Screen, Stretch to Fill Screen, Center, and Tile. If you select Center, you'll then get a color swatch that, when clicked, displays the standard Apple color selector. Of course, this just gets you a small image in the middle of your screen surrounded by the color you picked ... but if the image you use is a "nothing" image, then you get a desktop covered with the color you chose.

I used Photoshop Elements to create a new 1x1 pixel TIFF image. I then saved it without doing anything to it at all. When I dragged this into the image well, the desktop went white. When I switched to Center mode and chose a color, though, the chosen color covered 100% of the desktop.

You could, of course, do this by creating an image swatch of the color you wish to use and then using "Tile" to fill the screen with it. But you'll have to create a swatch for each color you wish to use. If you use a blank image, though, you can select your own color through the Apple color picker each time your mood changes.
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Nice tip!
Authored by: mm2270 on Oct 02, '02 11:54:26AM

Good tip! Tried this and it works well. There's only one small problem. That is, at least in my case, you get a small 1 pixel white dot in the center of your screen. I used Photoshop 7 to create my 1x1 pixel image, since I don't have Elements. Maybe that's why? There doesn't seem to be a way to save the image as a transparent document, unless I'm not aware of something. I have to play around with that a little more.

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How Apple Does It
Authored by: faisal on Mar 18, '05 10:09:58AM
It turns out that the solid color choices in the Desktop & Screen

Saver system preference pane are actually PNG files stored on disk:

/Library/Desktop Pictures/Solid Colors

If you don't like the choices presented, open the folder, copy one of the files and rename it (e.g. to "Solid Black.png"), open that in a graphic editor (e.g. GraphicConverter), fill it with the color you want (e.g. black), save it as PNG, then re-open the system preferences pane and pick the new prefered color.

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another way
Authored by: DavidRavenMoon on Oct 02, '02 12:16:54PM

You can also make a small image the color you want (say 128 x 128 pixels) and stretch it to fill the screen. This is how Apple does it.

The actual files Apple uses for solid color desktops are 128 X 128 pixel .png files, located in /Library/Desktop Pictures/Solid Colors/

As long as you are creating an image, you might as well make one the color you want. Fewer steps involved, and you always have it.

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another way to make the color tile image
Authored by: osxpounder on Oct 02, '02 01:10:26PM

It occurs to me that you don't need an image editor like Photoshop Elements to do create the image.

You could pull up the color picker in any app, even the Finder [just pretend you're about to change a folder's background color with CMD J].

Once the picker is on the screen, choose your color, then make a screen capture of the color chip [perhaps using CMD SHIFT 4].

In general, this trick helps me when I need a color to match that of a website or interface, since Photoshop's eyedropper won't sample colors outside Photoshop's workspace. I make a screen capture, open it, and sample from there.

Hope this helps,


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another way to make the color tile image
Authored by: jda on Oct 03, '02 05:44:44AM

"Photoshop's eyedropper won't sample colors outside Photoshop's workspace."

It can: click and hold with the eyedropper in the Photoshop document, drag over the part of the screen you want to sample and then release.

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another way to make the color tile image
Authored by: osxpounder on Oct 04, '02 04:00:34PM

Thanks so much! Encountering a Photoshop tip as useful as this one has made my day... no, my week. Listen, it's saved me a bunch of steps. Thanks!

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Authored by: wwwboynyc on Oct 02, '02 02:14:37PM

I thought about this for a moment, then it dawned on me. With a PDF, you can create any image you want, with a transparent background, then change the color to anything in the rainbow with the apple color selector. VERY COOL.

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pdf works great
Authored by: mclbruce on Oct 02, '02 08:56:31PM

I just made a 32x32 pixel transparant pdf in photoshop. Works great in the Desktop Preference panel. When I use center it doesn't show up on the desktop at all. Nice tip!

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Authored by: mikedavidson on Oct 03, '02 02:48:15PM

Exactly. I posted on evangelist digest a week ago that transparent desksops are back in 10 if you make the image a pdf, specifically a photoshop pdf with transparency. The problem is that 1 ) the image has to be smaller than the screen and 2) alpha transparency only really works with white.

1. Create an image in photoshop that is smaller than your screen
2. leave a transparent background layer
3. draw objects in layers above.
4. Solid black or see through shades of white are good choices. For some reason see through shades of black come out whitish
5. Save as a photoshop pdf, with transparency checked
6. Drag into desktop image well. Choose centered, pick a color.
7. Magic, you can see through the image to the color.

:) enjoy

Brought to you by Mike Davidson

(Anybody remember Mike Davidson's Mac File Library)

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1 pixel is still too big
Authored by: wuf810 on Oct 02, '02 06:46:00PM

The problem I found is that by even having a 1 x 1 pixel image, a small dot would appear in the middle of my screen. As photoshop won't let you have an image smaller than this, I instead used Graphic Convertor's resize option. Resizing the image a couple of times to 1% of its original size means that it essentially becomes invisble. Centre it on screen and use the picker to set the background and all it AOK.

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Authored by: blippo on Oct 29, '03 04:02:58PM

Related to this there's a bug. If you choose Center while using a desktop picture, this will stick when you go to a solid color. But the popup menu is gone so you can't change it back. Either the popup menu should always be there or solid colors should override the choice to fill the screen.

The workaround is to go back to choosing a picture, choose fill screen, then switch back to solid color.

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Solid color desktop, easiest way.
Authored by: simbolon on Jun 11, '07 04:26:14PM

Take a screencap of a preffered area on your desktop using command+shift+4. Before doing so, go to system preferences and choose a (any) picture as your desktop. Center the picture and choose a color surrounding it ("strawberry" is nice). Take the screencap of that color, save it, use it as your desktop picture, tile it or fit it to the screen.


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