Feature request: turn off sidebar colors in v2.1

I’ve resigned myself to the lack of customization of OF2, but the new sidebar colors in v2.1 are beyond annoying.

Do I really have to stare at dirty pink every time I look at Forecast? If I can’t customize it, can I at least turn it off?

And I’m really annoyed that Yosemite’s bleed-through sidebars have now infected OF. The bizarre blobs of color bleeding through the dirty pink do nothing but add to visual noise. I don’t care how sexy Apple thinks it is, it’s distracting to those of us who are visually sensitive.

Please, a checkbox to turn off this behavior!


There’s an option in your system preferences to reduce the transparency that could help with areas like the OmniFocus sidebar.

We’re always happy to hear your suggestions, if you email them to OmniFocus@OmniGroup.com we’ll be sure to add them to our development database.


I quite like the transparency option myself. Great update, Omnigroup!

No. This is not about transparency, it’s about the dingy background colors that change based on what perspective you’re looking at. Even with transparency turned off, these colors still show up in the sidebar. They simply make it look like something is wrong with my monitor, or my eyes.


+1 for this request. The sidebar colors are an absolutely ugly distraction. To promote this request, send a few separate feature requests to support …

  • Please change the colors in the sidebar (back) to flat gray or neutral white
  • Please allow users to select the colors for the sidebars

The cynical side of me wonders who in the heck at OG proposed that sidebar colors make the UI more efficient to use (rather than entirely distracting to that purpose), how many support requests or internal votes at OG were accepted for this change, and (now that this change is a de facto standard in OF) how many “feature requests” by users it will now take to have the sidebar colors removed and/or made a user-selectable option.



After some further use, I find the real headache is to have a washed out color on leftmost sidebar buttons. I can no longer distinguish the icons to the buttons as effectively. The greater headache is to have the background color change depending on the button chosen (Forecast mode is light blah-pink/red and the other buttons are light blue). This behavior is absolutely annoying. These two changes alone cause a real, extra level of anxiety trying to read past them to see true content, especially for folks like me who need strict visual consistency in a UI to work productively.

Here are the voices in my head when I work now in OF 2.1 …

Me: “Gosh … I cannot distinguish the icons on the buttons on the far left-most pane as effectively now as when their background was just neutral gray”.
The Other Me: “Oh. That happens because OG thinks colors should be consistent across the entire left pane. That is now standard behavior. Perhaps you need to clean your glasses”.
Me: “Hey … The color changed when I clicked this other button. Something must be dramatically different now in what I am supposed to see or do”.
The Other Me: “Nah, not really. That just happens because someone at OG thinks pink and blue are too cute not to use both whenever possible. IOW, it just mean, you clicked a different button”.
Me: (sigh)

So, basically, the “feature” request to OG should be this …

  • Remove color entirely from the left-most button strip (return its background to neutral gray ALWAYS) AND
  • Use ONLY ONE COLOR (light blue as with the Mail app) for the intermediate organizer pane that shows Folders or Contexts, regardless of what “mode” the user chooses.


Personally I like the changes to the side bar. If there was an option to turn it off, I wouldn’t mind. But I see no reason to remove this feature.

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Hmm I’d prefer an option to turn it off, too. Maybe it’s already possible with some command-line option?

Should be easy to implement (transparency/fancy colors ON or OFF)…to having this as a feature won’t hurt ;)

I can live with those colors but at the same time think “weird” each time I see it. Just can’t figure out why this could be an improvement…maybe after a few weeks you know where you are because of the colors? I doubt this will be the case for me though and I’m in “Today” about 95% of the time anyway…

I really like the background colours, too!

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Yes, I like the colours. I’ve found them to be a good visual reminder of where I am in OF when I switch back to it from another app.

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Visual design of an app should not be about what some folks might “like”. It should be about properly addressing two key questions …

  • Is this UI design essential to accomplish a core task?
  • Is this UI design the best way to accomplish that core task?

I agree that color is somewhat useful to separate visually the center organizer pane from the left-most button bar and the right-most task list pane. I have only to see how the Mail app does it to appreciate this point. Otherwise, the use of color on the left-most button bar is redundant and/or entirely distracting. The button bar is already distinguishable from the central organizer pane by a sharp vertical line. Once color is blended left across from the center to the left-most button bar, that vertical line distinction is washed out. Your brain will fight subconsciously to make sense of this ambiguity between vertical bar distinction and uniform color, regardless of what you consciously think you like about it.

Now, let’s select a different button. Your mind has decided to make that specific change. So you already know where you going and why. Why does the entire UI color change? To “remind” you of what you already knew you where doing? Or to tell you that something different will be required in your comprehension of what you see now before you? In what way is the color change essential to core function (rather than distracting from it), and is color change really the best way to indicate a new core functionality? Regardless of what you think you like about it consciously (or tell yourself that you like about it), I assert that your brain will be subconsciously fighting to figure this “new” color change information. And it will do so every time the color changes, essentially because there is no real good, principled, core functional reason for the color change (just rationalizations that you try to accept to move forward with what you think you like).

IMHO, OG failed rather poorly to pay attention on this change to good UI design practices. The color blur across both the center and left-most button bar causes ambiguity to process conflicting visual content, and the color change as new buttons are selected raises anxiety to process its core meaning.


As is often the case when we make these kinds of changes, the response has been generally (though by no means universally) positive - and those who dislike the change are very passionate in their articulation of their stance.
We are tracking requests for both of the proposed options, and sending in emails as suggested is excellent advice for anyone who feels as @drjjwmac does.

My eyesight has recently degraded just a tiny bit more, and today I noticed that I was really struggling to read the OmniFocus sidebar. It’s impossible to adjust the size of the sidebar text, and the lower contrast because of the awful colors makes it even harder to read.

The icons are impossible for me to read at my normal distance from the screen, as they suffer from an smaller text size, a font with skinnier strokes, and aren’t even black.

At this point my only option is to change the display resolution. I’m not going to do that, as everything else (barring Adobe apps) are working just fine for me. Very disappointed that Omni still is prioritizing glitz over usability. Keep the colors by all means, but give us a way to make a beautiful but usable interface for those of us with less than perfect vision. I will email them again today.