Creating Custom Backgrounds in the Notes App

One of the many things I love about Mac OS X is the ability to customize just about anything. While it's possible to customize just about anything, sometimes it's difficult to know just how to customize it.

Let's take, for example, the Notes app. It's a great app for taking notes in meetings or creating lists of things to do. The default look for Notes in OS X Mavericks looks like this:

While's it's not a bad design necessarily, it can be a bit bland for most. Fortunately, there's a relatively easy way to add your own flare to the look and feel of the app.

First, we need to find an image to use as a background (this will replace the yellow background that currently acts as the background in the Notes app). This image would preferably be a seamless image, meaning that when you stitch the image next to itself over and over again, you won't see seams from one image to the next. The easiest way to find a good seamless background image is to Google "background texture seamless". You should find plenty of images with that search criteria.

Next, we need to convert that image to a TIFF format. Most of the images you will find online will be JPG. That's fine, but for this customization, it needs to be converted. To do this, open the image you want to use in Preview. Then go to File | Export... and choose to save the file as a TIFF format. When you save the file, you will want to call it "paper.tiff" (this is important to keep in mind). If you prefer to make this conversion using your favorite image editor, you are welcome to convert the file that way as well.

Next, we will perform the customization. As you can imagine at this point, the default yellow background is nothing more than a TIFF file that repeats itself over and over again to fill the space. All we need to do is replace that image with the new one (before continuing, be sure to close the Notes app). The file we're looking for is found here:


Note: In order to browse for this, you will need to right-click (Control+click) on the Notes app in Finder, then choose "Show Package Contents". At this point, continue browsing for the paper.tiff file.

Rather than simply replacing the paper.tiff file, I strongly recommend renaming that to "paper_old.tiff" (or something along those lines) so that you can revert back to it if you ever want to. It's also important to not make any other changes to other files within these folders. Doing so could cause unexpected problems when running the Notes app.

Now that we have customized the Notes app, it's time to give it a try. Open the app, and you should see your new background!

Posted on March 24, 2014 and filed under Design, How To, Mac.