Transparent Background in OmniGraffle

I have an OmniGraffle with a black background, and a deckset presentation with a dark but not completely black background. When I export from OmniGraffle (v7.5), I set the transparent background checkbox, but the image comes out with a black background (confirmed with Pixelmator, Preview as well as Deckset). I can’t seem to get OmniGraffle to export with transparent background in either PNG or GIF.

Am I doing something wrong, is this a bug?

I seem to be getting transparent .png’s here – not sure if any of your settings differ from mine.

( Perhaps worth experimenting with Export area > Selection ? )

This is a bug. I’ve discovered the fix is to select “Include Non-printing layers”. When Transparent background is selected, you should see the checkerboard pattern in the preview. You can then deselect Including Non-printing layers if you’d like. Hope this helps.

Weird. I selected all (Command-A) and opened export again, turned on transparent background, and the black stayed. Selected “Export area> Selection” and it went transparent (checkerboard). Put it back to current canvas, and it stayed transparent.

Now when I open the dialog, the background is already transparent, and transparent background is already selected, and if I turn off transparent background, it stays checkerboard, but if I change the export area, it goes black again.

Definitely seems like there’s something buggy going on, but as long as I can export the image with transparent background by fiddling a little, I can live with it.

This is a known issue and a bit of an edge case, but I can see why the behavior isn’t ideal.

See under “Specify a Background Fill or Pattern in the Canvas Fill Inspector” for directions to setting the Canvas Fill to “Chalk” and solid. If there is a custom color set for the canvas, it is more of an edge case to interpret what the intention is, as someone has specified the canvas should be a color other than the default, and you’ve selected to export the canvas and not just the objects on it. If you set a “Chalk” solid background, the transparent checkbox should work as that is the default canvas fill. This also explains why the selection doesn’t include the canvas fill, as the canvas isn’t included when you export a selection.

I can see how having a non-default background raises the question of intention, but here’s the counterpoint:

  • The current implementation behaves weirdly
    • Changing transparent background checkbox has no effect until I change the export area.
    • Changing the export area causes the transparent background checkbox to take effect even if I change it from “Current Canvas” to “Current Document”, which has nothing to do with selected objects.
    • Even taking your ‘intention’ argument into effect, this feels flaky.
  • On the intention front:
    • I want to insert an image into a near-black-background presentation.
    • It’s hard to compose the image without simulating the background. I can’t tell what’s white filled and what’s transparent, and white text won’t show up over the background.
    • I could find the presentation background colour and match it in OmniGraffle, but … why? Transparent is simpler.
    • I could set the background, compose the image and then set it back to chalk, but … again, why? I just want to set the background to transparent on export for the same reason that almost anyone does – to match have the content match the document into which it is inserted.

Anyway – I was able to get my image exported, so my problem is kinda solved. I do think the current implementation is flaky even if you don’t want to support transparent background on non-default canvas fills, and I think my example is a reasonable explanation of why you might want to support transparent background on non-default canvas fills, but I’ll leave that part, and how to address the fact that someone else might have different intention up to you guys from a UX/development perspective.

I agree the current implementation isn’t an ideal solution for handling canvas fills with flexibility. This issue has been reported and new behavior requested. Thank you for explaining your intent, as that always helps.

It seems that the ambiguity around a non-default canvas fill could use some more consideration. I hope export refinements are something we see in the future! Feel free to drop us a line from Contact OmniGroup in your help menu if you have any other suggestions for us. Thanks for sharing your experience.

1 Like

OmniGraffle 7.7 seems to have the same issue when exporting to PDF. In my case, I’m simply placing black text & shapes on a default white (chalk?) canvas, and I’d like to export these objects to a PDF with transparent background so that a designer can re-set them on another background of our choosing. The preview looks like what I want when I select “All objects” and “Transparent background”: I see my objects on a transparent background. Clicking Export yields a PDF with my objects on a white background.

Is there a workaround involving Ghostscript or Preview or sips or something?

1 Like

Same problem on OmniGraffle 7.10.2. Tried all the workarounds above, but when exporting drawings (all objects or selected objects) as PDF (transparent background checked!), I always get a white background in the output PDF. Same for Copy (to clipboard) as PDF…

If you open the PDF after export in Photoshop you will see the background is transparent. It doesn’t look transparent because the page size is defined inside the PDF, so Preview and Adobe Acrobat assume you want to print and put a default white page behind your PDF content. I got the same result in Photoshop if I copied as PDF or if I exported and selected transparency. If you are viewing in Acrobat, you need to turn on the transparency grid in the viewer as described in I’m not sure if there is a way to do this in Preview.

Hope this helps!


Hi, I am using 7 and trying to export a logo in png and cant get a transparent background at all. I have ticked transparent, used selection and it still comes through with a white block behind the text logo. I tried changing the canvas fill but it only has colour options with no transparent option so really stuck. I am on a trial and was about to buy Pro but this is a showstopper if it cant do transparent backgrounds?