By GlezSeoane

2018-09-25 15:03:59 8 Comments

In High Sierra I used some custom icons for my folders in the Finder; but with the new update to Mojave and the dark mode, the predefined icons also become darker. However the custom icons don't.

Inspecting an element you find a dark preview, but when you extract the icon this is the clear, the same as there was in High Sierra. E.g.:

  • Previously visualization of the developer predefined icon. It's dark: Previously visualization of a predefined icon. It's dark.

  • But if you extract that icon, it's clear: Extraction of a predefined icon. It's clear.

There are no dark icons in the system library, at least not in the same directory as always:


Are they being actively obscured by the operative system without there being icons with that real appearance? In this case, any idea to apply this method to the custom icons without modifying it into a new coloration?


@jaume 2018-09-25 16:22:29

Are they being actively obscured by the operative system without there being icons with that real appearance?

Folder icons are indeed displayed an a darker shade of blue and with a darkened tab when using Dark Mode.

In this case, any idea to apply this method to the custom icons without modifying it into a new coloration?

I think you will have to modify your custom folder icons, but beware the darker look is not consistent: Folder icons are darkened when placed on the desktop and previewed with Quick Look, but when displayed in a Finder window, they maintain their bright appearance, as you can see in the following screenshots:

Folder on Desktop:

enter image description here

Same folder in Finder window, with a Quick Look preview to its right:

enter image description here

So you are out of luck if you want your custom folders to match the way Finder folders look like. I think this behavior is more of an omission than a deliberate design decision, and checking "Reduce Transparency" in System Preferences>Accessibility>Display doesn't change how folders are displayed, that is, this is not caused by Desktop Tinting (more on Desktop Tinting below).

About Desktop Tinting

There is a new Mojave feature called Desktop Tinting that only is activated when using Dark Mode. Desktop Tinting slightly modifies the color of windows to match your desktop picture.

If you want to disable Desktop Tinting, Graphite Mode will disable the color tinting altogether, according to, for example, Apple's Introducing Dark Mode WWDC 2018 Session and Ars Technica Mojave review.

You can find additional information about Desktop Tinting in the Introducing Dark Mode WWDC 2018 video (select the Transcript tab and search for "desktop tinting"):

[D]esktop tinting (...) causes the window's background colors to camouflage themselves with the desktop picture.

We found that completely desaturated gray colors have a tendency to have a color temperature that was sometimes in conflict with what your desktop picture was, and this effect was magnified when you have a translucent sidebar area, for example, against a solid opaque area of your window, and so desktop tinting helps mitigate that.

Once applied, the desktop tinting gives the whole window a harmonious color scheme, which helps it to blend in with the surrounding areas and really reduces that color temperature disparity.

and the Ars Technica Mojave review:

One separate but related feature exclusive to Dark Mode is called Desktop Tinting, which goes beyond the translucent sidebars and other UI elements.

Each window samples an “average” color from whatever piece of your desktop wallpaper it’s on top of and uses that color to subtly tint every single window in the operating system. (...) Apple says that it’s meant to keep the bold Dark Mode windows from clashing with your chosen wallpaper.

@GlezSeoane 2018-09-25 16:44:53

Great contribution. But if it's a feature of the operative system that harmonizes all the colors, why does it only affect the predefined icons and not the custom ones? Don't you think it should correct both?

@jaume 2018-09-25 16:55:23

That's a good question. I haven't updated to Mojave yet so I can only guess, but It seems that Mojave modifies a subset of UI elements that doesn't include app icons, or are the icons of built-in apps also darkened?

@GlezSeoane 2018-09-25 16:59:22

No, only are darkened the predefined folder icons. Apps don't change.

@jaume 2018-09-25 17:04:05

That would explain the behavior: app icons are untouched while folder icons in the Finder are tinted to match the desktop picture/background, That's because they are part of Finder windows: Desktop Tinting applies to windows, and folders icons are elements within windows, I guess that's the rationale. I'll make that clearer in my answer.

@GlezSeoane 2018-09-25 18:09:52

The most logical thing according to what we have investigated is that it uses some list to darken some icons. These turn out to be the predefined ones of the folders and the trash bin. The custom ones of the folders or those of the apps, for example, do not get darker.

@GlezSeoane 2018-09-25 18:11:59

One more point: the graphite mode doesn't affect this feature, as you comment in your answer. I'm not saying what you're saying is wrong, but it doesn't affect the coloring of the icons even if it disable Desktop Tinting. I have checked it.

@jaume 2018-09-27 10:21:47

Thank you for your comments, I installed Mojave yesterday and it is indeed a "feature" independent of Desktop Tinting, I've modified my answer accordingly, please take a look at it.

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