The fourth developer beta of macOS 11 Big Sur was released yesterday, and it brings a small but notable change. With the latest beta of macOS Big Sur, there is a new option in System Preferences to disable Desktop Tinting while using Dark Mode.
If you’re unfamiliar with the wallpaper tinting feature of macOS, it essentially allows window backgrounds to pick up color from your desktop wallpaper when in Dark Mode, which Apple says “helps windows blend more harmoniously with their surrounding content.”
The design was introduced in macOS Mojave alongside Dark Mode, and it has proven to be a rather polarizing change. Some people like the additional color that the tinting can bring to otherwise bland interfaces, but others complain that the changing tint can be rather polarizing, especially when used in conjunction with Dark Mode.
Here’s how Apple describes the Desktop Tinting feature:
Apps running in Dark Mode benefit from Desktop Tinting. When active, Desktop Tinting causes window backgrounds to pick up color from the user’s desktop picture. The result is a subtle tinting effect that helps windows blend more harmoniously with their surrounding content. Users who prefer not to have the additional tinting, perhaps because they work with color-sensitive content, can disable this effect by choosing the graphite accent color in System Preferences.
In the past, the one workaround to disable Desktop Tinting was to select the “Graphite” accent color for macOS, but this setting came with the tradeoff of losing various other accent colors throughout the interface. The new option introduced in macOS 11 Big Sur allows users to disable Desktop Tinting without compromising other aspects of the macOS interface.
If you choose to disable wallpaper tinting in windows, what you get is essentially a much darker version of Dark Mode. This is because the backgrounds of your various macOS windows are not affected by your wallpaper choice. For example, with Desktop Tinting enabled, very little of a macOS window is actually pure black. Instead, it’s a dark shade that incorporates accents from your wallpaper colors.
One thing to remember is that Desktop Tinting is not the same as the macOS Vibrancy feature, which allows background color in areas like the Finder’s sidebar. Stephen Hackett has a good write up of these different features over at 512 Pixels.
To access this new setting, open System Preferences, and choose “General.” From there, look for the small checkbox that says “Allow wallpaper tinting in windows.” The box is checked by default, but you can uncheck it to disable the feature.
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