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10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar System 10.5
One down, one to go? Steve Miner somehow managed to figure out how to disable the translucent menu bar. He posted a solution that involved editing a system-level plist, and then commenter Krioni came up with a one-line Terminal command.
Before you try this, realize it (a) requires a restart, and (b) is modifying a system-level variable, and may cause bad things to happen. I tested it on my 10.5 test machine, and it worked as described. However, proceed at your own risk! In Terminal, enter this command: You'll need to restart your Mac to see the changes, and no, this won't fix the menus. (To reverse this, I imagine you could just repeat it with a 0 at the end, or (for certain) edit the plist file and remove the added key.

I actually found the reworked menubar a bit too bright -- it's literally just a white bar, lacking the subtle 10.4 gradient. That then led me to stumble on Peter Maurer's new Menu Bar Tint, which adds back the gradient (and even lets you go wild with a completely different color scheme, if you wish -- just remember that the stock colors are all full-black, at 0%, 4%, and 10% opacity levels). That's my menu bar above, with Menu Bar Tint running to provide the gradient.

Now if someone just figures out how to make those menus solid again...
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10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar | 48 comments | Create New Account
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10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: robi26 on Nov 15, '07 02:34:18PM

YES
thank you



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.5.2 fixes translucent menu bar
Authored by: miner on Feb 12, '08 02:23:04PM

With 10.5.2 you should use the Desktop system preference pane to turn of the translucent menu bar.



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10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: mithras on Nov 15, '07 03:21:45PM

Boys and girls, we have a winner.

---
--
mithrastheprophet.net (coming soonish)



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10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: robg on Nov 15, '07 03:50:33PM

Except I posted it, and I'm pretty sure Macworld wouldn't let me win. Plus the tip didn't originate here, so it wouldn't be eligible anyway...

:)

-rob.



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10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: kyngchaos on Nov 15, '07 03:23:39PM

I believe the menus always had a slight transparency on them. But, yes, they are more transparent in Leopard, and now have the blur effect (which I quite like).

What would be really nice would be to change the transparency amount, on both the menubar and the menus. (I like the menubar transparency also, except that it's too much)

(patiently waiting for ShapeShifter...)



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Yes, 10.4 menus are slightly translucent
Authored by: hamarkus on Nov 15, '07 03:45:12PM

Black and white background (defined in my monitor's color space) creates a menu background of (230/241 or 227/237, the menus are slightly pin-striped) as expressed in sRGB.



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10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: Typhoon14 on Nov 15, '07 03:24:15PM

I'm not a fan of the transparency, but it does have the benefit of allowing you to easily customise your menubar look. I always thought the 10.4 menubar was way too bright for a permanent element. My opinion, the 10.5 menubar with black behind it gives you a solid-looking menubar with a slight gradient, and a shade of light grey that almost perfectly matches the window colors in 10.5. I've been using LeoColorBar to insert a menubar-sized strip of black at the top of the current desktop image.



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Smooth-for-CRT = ugly
Authored by: kkL on Nov 15, '07 04:11:48PM

Does it also improve anti-aliasing of menubar's font?



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The Gradient
Authored by: awatt on Nov 15, '07 04:35:07PM

My machine has an older graphics card, so I have a naturally opaque menu bar. It does have a subtle and quite pleasing gradient. So if this hint really results in a solid white menu bar, then it might be turning off more than just the translucency.

Interestingly, my actual menus *are* slightly translucent (just like in 10.4), even though the menu bar is not.



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10.5: [shaded background] Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: ddash on Nov 15, '07 04:53:42PM

I tried this one and as rob mentions, if in order to get back the original translucent menubar, you have to delete the entry from the plist file manually. By replacing the 1 in the hint by 0, something interesting happens on my system. i.e.
sudo defaults write /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.WindowServer 'EnvironmentVariables' -dict 'CI_NO_BACKGROUND_IMAGE' 0

produces a tiger like menubar without transparency which is not just white (but grey) and has a shaded texture.

Dash



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10.5: [shaded background] Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: wjv on Nov 15, '07 05:10:35PM

I too get the gradient if it's set to "0", but... there's an unsightly one pixel wide black line directly below my menu bar.

I'm off to experiment with different values...



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10.5: [shaded background] Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: cbriere on Nov 15, '07 05:28:59PM

That's great ! This looks exactly like how an older Mac displays Leopard's menu bar ! AWESOME ! tks



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10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: Pedro Estarque on Nov 15, '07 04:56:58PM

I knew it! I knew there must have been a way.
Ah, what would the OS X experience be like without those sweet "defaults write". Thank you!
Actually, with solid gray background it looks great, but now we can have colors again!



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10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: immensewok on Nov 15, '07 05:13:45PM

Awesome!



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10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: wjv on Nov 15, '07 05:24:34PM

(I'll post this on the top level of the thread, so those with Threaded comments can see it.)

It appears you can set the value to anything between 0 and 1. This seemingly controls the colour that goes "behind" the menu bar (and is then altered by the translucency effect), with 1 being pure white and 0 being pure black.

0 gives you a flat white menu bar. 1 gives you a steel grey, shaded menu bar. 0.5 (for instance) gives you something in between.

An odd side effect - on my PowerBook at least - is that this new colour protrudes below the menu bar by one pixel. If I change the setting to 0, I have an unsightly black line below my menu bar. If I opt for a mid-grey (by choosing something between about 0.5 and 0.7) this is much less noticeable.



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10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: blukens on Nov 15, '07 06:37:40PM

If you want to replicate the appearance of the opaque menu bar that appears on older PPC hardware (my PBook G4, for instance), use the value 0.63.

This gives a 1 pixel border that is 37% black, which is exactly the color of the 1 pixel border on my PowerBook.



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10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: wjv on Nov 16, '07 12:27:08AM

The colour range doesn't seem to be quite linear. For instance, setting the variable to 0.5 gives you a grey line of colour #4d4d4d. That's already 70% black.



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10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: blukens on Nov 16, '07 07:04:55AM

It looks like the color you get may not be entirely consistent between computers. On my Aluminum iMac, setting the value to 0.5 give a border with a gray of 29.8%. If I do the same thing on my PowerBook G4 (which never supported translucency anyway), I get 37.3% which is a little lighter than the color you're seeing.

I'm using Apple's DigitalColor Meter utility to get measure the color of the 1 pixel border. So, I guess if one really ones it to be perfect, you just have to play with it. But generally, something around 0.5 or 0.6 seems to end up looking pretty good.



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10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: wjv on Nov 16, '07 01:36:37PM

How bizarre!

But yes, your originally suggested value of 0.63 looks "just right" (to my eyes) on my ageing Powerbook G4. It gives me a grey line that's #616161.



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10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: DCJ001 on Nov 15, '07 07:18:34PM

Modifying my desktop image was fairly simple. I'd prefer to do this than mess with Terminal.



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What looks good:
Authored by: Chas on Nov 15, '07 09:44:29PM

I thought I would mention that the translucent menu bar looks really good against the older desktop images, I use Panther Aqua Graphite (you can tell I haven't changed my desktop in years and years). Most of the complaints I hear are from people using the starry background that is the default in 10.5, the stars have too much contrast and are easily visible through the menu bar. But the subtle gradients in the older desktops put a subtle shading across the bar from left to right, I think it looks excellent.



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10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: mantrid on Nov 15, '07 10:06:16PM

I am so grateful for this hint. The translucency was driving me crazy, especially since the source of the irritiation is always there staring you in the face.

By the way, you can save yourself a reboot by logging into >console mode to unload / reload the com.apple.WindowServer.plist with launchctl. Just don't make the mistake of trying that while logged in to the GUI.



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10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: luomat on Nov 15, '07 10:35:36PM

If only, if only, if only we could travel back in time to the days when OS X was first announced and The Mac Faithful(TM) were wailing and gnashing their teeth at the idea of a COMMAND LINE in their precious, precious Mac.

"What is this, DOS?!?!?!" more than one of them said, thinking themselves very clever.

"No, Captain Witty, this is power like you've never dreamed of."



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10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: beepotato on Nov 16, '07 01:59:18AM

Well, actually the command line is not required at all for this hint. You can access the plist file through the GUI, and edit it using any GUI tool you like, with no problem.
So, in this case, the command line doesn't bring you any power, other than making the hint shorter to write. ;P



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: cycomachead on Nov 15, '07 10:53:39PM

Ah yes. Now why didn't I see that file. I was searching through everything to do with windowserver (being the menu bar's parent service). The menu bar just looked a bit weird, but there was still to much transparency. Actually Steve Job's idea that it makes the desktop look good is true; it does! But how often am I using my computer with no open windows. Never (unless staring at a screen counts as using it). Maybe if there were a way to say: if desktop is showing or if no open windows, be transparent.

But the contextual menus (from the menu bar, and right click, etc) are even worse. It's not that they look ugly (actually they look better than the menu bar) but it's a universal access issue- It makes things hard to read (well I have bad vision…and am using UA's zoom feature right now) - so that's what I'm waiting for. And it's appearing to be trickier, but what do I know, I missed this plist when it was right under my nose!



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I used to have opaque menus...
Authored by: a1291762 on Nov 16, '07 02:29:22AM

Back in 10.1 or 10.2 I had opaque menus. There were a bunch of replacement "themes", one of which was "opaque aqua".

I'm not really sure what happened to themes. I haven't actually used them for years but if the ability to define themes remains, a theme is what will be required to make the menus opaque.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: gork on Nov 15, '07 10:55:51PM

I have been grepping through 'strings WindowServer' desperately trying to figure this out. You guys are the absolute best!



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10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: NB on Nov 16, '07 12:23:45PM

Yeah, same here !

How did you find out that???



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10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: gr8tfly on Nov 15, '07 11:09:28PM

Thanks for the tip - at least it's a workaround.

Aperture, Soundtrack and Livetype all manage to override the transparency when they are in the foreground. When they do, it matches the normal Leopard gray window style.

It seems like they do it through a different method, but perhaps this plist field is related.



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10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: derPlau on Nov 16, '07 01:40:54PM

Actually, Aperture (and presumably the other Pro apps) doesn't disable translucency. It increases the opacity of the menu bar to approximately (to my eye) the level of two "standard" menu bars, one on top of the other... but high-contrast desktop images still show through.



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10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: gong on Nov 16, '07 12:39:01AM

unfortunately the Menu Bar Tint shows up if you're watching full screen video.



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10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: jdoyle on Nov 16, '07 05:56:17AM

I have a much easier way to do this that involves no system tweaks.

Choose your desktop of choice.

Open in photoshop.

Place a strip of white with a subtle black to white gradient on it across the top the exact size that the menu bar is.

Choose this as you desktop. Voila! No more transparent menu bar!



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: n8gray on Nov 16, '07 10:47:23AM
I have a much easier way to do this that involves no system tweaks. Choose your desktop of choice.

Open in photoshop.

Place a strip of white with a subtle black to white gradient on it across the top the exact size that the menu bar is.

Choose this as you desktop. Voila! No more transparent menu bar!

You forgot the rest:

Connect your portable Mac to an external monitor where the menu bar is on a different screen.

Enjoy the glaring white bar across the top of your secondary screen.

No thanks, I'll take the simple plist edit.

[ Reply to This | # ]

10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: mm2270 on Nov 16, '07 06:13:39AM

Best. Hint. Ever.
Well, actually the best hint for me will be the one that brings back the pre-Leopard folder-in-Dock behavior in favor of Stacks.

But to me, this is awesome. I actually don't mind the somewhat more translucent menus themselves. Just the menubar bugged me.
Between this and the defaults command to un-3D the Dock on the bottom, some sanity to Leopard has been reinstated.



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10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: acc on Nov 16, '07 07:21:07AM

Let me suggest a thought here about the menu bar 'translucency'. It really isn't translucent, but rather, the menu bar is tinted by the colors of the screen background. Why do I suggest this?? Try sliding an icon partly 'under' the menu bar. You cannot see through the menu bar to see the the portion of the icon under the menu bar... the menu bar is not translucent. Certainly it is tinted by the colors of the background of your desktop picture / color. The menus themselves are translucent which is another problem.

I am glad that someone found a 'fix' for this. Like many others, I find may parts of the new look annoying, and the tinted menu bar is certainly one of them. Sometimes companies insist on fixing what isn't broke and call it progress.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Reverting to the Defaults
Authored by: blukens on Nov 16, '07 07:24:54AM

As we've seen, setting the value to 0 just changes the color. To actually remove the change, and go back to a translucent menu bar, run:

sudo defaults delete /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.WindowServer 'EnvironmentVariables'

But, for goodness sake, be careful. If you leave off the 'EnvironmentVariables' bit, you'll delete the entire file and your computer won't boot.

If you just want to convert the file to plain text XML, so you can edit it manually, run:

sudo plutil -convert xml1 /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.WindowServer.plist

Then you can _carefully_ edit it with the text editor of your choice. Be sure to use "sudo", or you won't be able so save your changes.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Reverting to the Defaults
Authored by: hstaniloff on Jan 22, '08 07:37:12AM

Hello;
I implemented this "hack" and loved the result. But my understanding is that Leopard 10.5.2 will have an option to disable the translucent toolbar. So after successfully implementing the hack I wanted to back it out - cleanly.

So back out the change, I did this:
ENTER ALL COMMANDS AS YOU SEE - USE AT YOUR OWN RISK

1. Copied the current com.apple.windowserver.plist file out of /System/Library/LaunchDaemons to my desktop - just in case!

2. In Terminal:
sudo defaults delete /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.WindowServer EnvironmentVariables

enter your psw when promted.

3. Fix the permissions:
sudo chmod go+r /System/Library/LaunchDaemonscom.apple.WindowServer.plist

- you're restoring group and other to "read" access again.

4. Reboot

In the end, your toolbar will be back to Leopard-original.
/Hal



[ Reply to This | # ]
0.62 = a winner!
Authored by: shuffle on Nov 16, '07 08:34:26AM

I measured (hexadecimal) and compared the suggested 0.63 value with the horizontal grey horizontal pixel underneath the menubar on an old PPC running 10.5. The results:

0 = #030303

1 = #989898

Older PPC = #5F5F5F

0.63 = #616161 (almost there...)

0.62 = #5F5F5F (Bingo!)

So if you want to look like an old PPC, copypaste this into your Terminal:

sudo defaults write /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.WindowServer 'EnvironmentVariables' -dict 'CI_NO_BACKGROUND_IMAGE' 0.62



[ Reply to This | # ]
0.62 = a winner!
Authored by: blukens on Nov 16, '07 08:23:50PM

It's seems to be a bit inconsistent between computers. The target value is definitely #5F5F5F (that's what I'm seeing on my stock PowerBook G4), but I get that on my iMac when using 0.63 as the value. Using 0.62 gives me a value of #5D5D5D. Not sure what's causing the variation, though I suppose that reality is either one is really close enough. Just kinda funny it's different for different computers. Go figure.

For what it's worth, I'm using Apple's DigitalColor Meter utility to get the color values on my 20" Aluminum iMac.



[ Reply to This | # ]
consistency with other UI elements
Authored by: mclbruce on Nov 17, '07 02:55:58PM

The idea of using DigitalColor Meter, located in the Utilities folder, is a very good one. I agree with another poster who mentioned that numbers may not be the same from computer to computer. In addition I suggest switching to a solid white desktop background before doing any testing with DigitalColor Meter.

Every window has a gray line at the bottom. I have found that these lines have two different color values in DigitalColor Meter: one when the window is active and one when it is not. The color values seem to be consistent for every window.

Anyone can use their own DigitalColor Meter on their own machine to find the two color values. They can change the 0.6x number to get the menubar gray line to match the gray line at the bottom of their own active or inactive windows.

On my computer 0.66 or 0.67 nearly matches the value of the active windows.



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: jaysoffian on Nov 16, '07 01:21:39PM

For anyone who wants to experiment

AND KNOWS HOW TO FIX IT THEMSELVES IF THEY MAKE A MISTAKE

CI_NO_BACKGROUND_IMAGE appears in /System/Library/Frameworks/QuartzCore.framework/QuartzCore.

Running strings on this file leads to the discovery of a couple other potential environment variables:

CI_NO_ACCEL
CI_USE_SHADINGS



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: Guntis on Nov 17, '07 08:02:27AM
Here's one application that promises menu bar opacity, textured opacity, translucency, and option to undo changes: Leopaque
http://www.macupdate.com/info.php/id/26268/leopaque

---
"In a world without fences and walls, who needs Gates and Windows?"

[ Reply to This | # ]

10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: MacParc on Nov 17, '07 03:49:37PM

I may even implement a slider to adjust values from 0.00 - 1.00 in version 2.0.
To be honest the app is based on this article. ;-)



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: theinterned on Nov 29, '07 10:14:07PM

Hi, I used the command line to deopaqueafy the menu bar, but now when I look at the plist file, at

/System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.WindowServer.plist

it appears garbled and my text editor is saying that it is not utf-8. can someone post what their original plist file looked like?

thanks



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: kd8cyb on Dec 04, '07 05:46:13PM
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple Computer//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">;
<plist version="1.0">
<dict>
<key>Label</key>
<string>com.apple.WindowServer</string>
<key>ProgramArguments</key>
<array>
<string>/System/Library/Frameworks/ApplicationServices.framework/Frameworks/CoreGraphics.framework/Resources/WindowServer</string>
<string>-daemon</string>
</array>
<key>MachServices</key>
<dict>
<key>com.apple.windowserver</key>
<true/>
</dict>
</dict>
</plist>



[ Reply to This | # ]
10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: DavidRavenMoon on Jan 22, '08 12:22:50PM

I installed Leopard on my G4 a few weeks ago... I don't have a translucent menu bar. Did Apple change something? I was quite surprised, and happy too!

---
G4/Digital Audio/1GHz, 1 GB, Mac OS X 10.5.1 • www.david-schwab.com • www.myspace/davidschwab • www.imanicoppola.net



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10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: monstergarden on Apr 22, '08 06:35:15PM

It sounds like the following might have been included with a recent Leopard update...
System Pref.s > Desktop & Screen Saver: At the very bottom you can check or uncheck "Translucent Menu Bar"



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10.5: Get rid of the translucent menu bar
Authored by: morespace54 on Apr 23, '08 07:03:29AM

Well, it is on my iMac Intel pref pane but not on my iBook G4 PPC...
Although, on my G4, it's full, no transparency



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