I have bunch of white, transparent png icons in my folder and I find no way to see them clearly even if I change the background in view options (still white overlay on the image stays):

enter image description here enter image description here

I know some of you may suggest Coverflow view but it is not satisfying at all because you can not see much of the images at once. I know it looks good but it is useless for serious browsing.

enter image description here

I have tried all browsing options I could find but none lets me accomplish this simple and basic task.

How can I make finder let me see my icons?


@harrymc solution removes white border from the PNG icons so it merges with the background (as alpha png should) and all was left to do is just to change background color in Finder's view options. Then I discovered that after adding thumbnails, Finder does not allow to change background color anymore!!!! (this option is grayed out - look below). Why? This is quite hilarious!: enter image description here


I have found the reason for background color lock. It was not a fault of adding thumbnails but "Arrange by". It turns out that "Arrange by" must be "none" to be able to change Finder's background - odd.

Mentioned here: http://www.mac-forums.com/forums/os-x-operating-system/264376-finder-background-colour-buttons-locked.html

Now everything looks as I wanted:

enter image description here

  • Have you tried in Cover Flow to set icon sizes to large?
    – harrymc
    Jan 31, 2014 at 13:01
  • It doesn't change anything
    – Lukasz
    Jan 31, 2014 at 19:25
  • See if this can help : Replace older grainy thumbnails in Finder Desktop.
    – harrymc
    Jan 31, 2014 at 19:45
  • I do not understand. It is not what I asked about at all.
    – Lukasz
    Jan 31, 2014 at 19:48
  • To resume: Your icons are hard to see, no matter what background color you use, black or white. I thought this was a problem with low-resolution icons, but was apparently wrong. So what kind of a solution are you looking for?
    – harrymc
    Jan 31, 2014 at 21:07

3 Answers 3


The thread How can I get rid of the white border around picture icons in Finder window contains a long discussion regarding this problem. Here is one excerpt that explains the problem :

It's admittedly a very strange issue. It deals with how Leopard sees the icon - if the file preview is already embedded in the icon, then it displays with no border, if not, then it uses the white frame. Test this by going to that folder with both in it and click View/Show View Options. In there, de-check "Show icon preview", and you should see the bordered icons go to default file type icons and the unframed ones remain the same.

The solution therefore is to use Automator to add thumbnails to all the images that will be used by finder. One method is :

Get Selected (or Specified) Finder Items --> Add Thumbnail Icon to Image Files.

Another guy used this method and automated it :

OK- great and I was able to "write" an automator 'script' and even batch converted about 300 jpg's from one folder.

This changed all the photos in that folder to the current time and date for both MODIFIED ON and CREATED ON.

Here is the screenshot of what the Automator workflow should look like:


  • Yep, but unfortunately I had to revoke acceptance of your answer because I discovered 2 things: 1. Adding thumbnails marks files as modified which shows in my CVS which is not a good thing at all for tracked projects. 2. It does not help much because after adding thumbnails Finder does NOT allow to change background color in view options so i am still stuck with white on white (I will edit my answer soon). I may accept it later if there is not better solution.
    – Lukasz
    Feb 3, 2014 at 8:41
  • 1
    (1) The change to the modification date is in my answer. (2) Strange, the nature of what is displayed shouldn't affect the view options.
    – harrymc
    Feb 3, 2014 at 9:27
  • I have found the reason for background color lock. It was not a fault of adding thumbnails but "Arrange by". It turns out that "Arrange by" must be "none" to be able to change Finder's background - odd. Mentioned here: mac-forums.com/forums/os-x-operating-system/…
    – Lukasz
    Feb 3, 2014 at 9:42

You won't like this solution. But from what I can see, it's your only solution.

Open up each icon in Preview.app, and copy the entire image to your clipboard, then perform "Get Info" on each icon and click and paste your clipboard onto the top-left icon of the Get Info window.

So, you will go from this (default):

enter image description here

To this (note the transparent background):

enter image description here

Now, when you set Finder's background colour to something other then white, the thumbnail will be transparent thus showing you your white icon:

enter image description here

Note: Obviously, this will only work if the icon has a transparent background.

  • 1
    I'm thinking an Automator action might be possible that will replicate this automatically for an entire folder.
    – Michael P
    Feb 1, 2014 at 5:38

Preview application makes it easier:

1) select all your images in Finder (you can sort by type in Finder)

2) right click on selection, choose Open or Open in Application Preview

All files should be opened in one window with side scroller. At this scroller transparency images will be showed with gray background.

enter image description here

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