Alternating Row Colors in Apple Mail

October 08, 2007

There is absolutely no reason for this wonderful bit of advice to be buried in a comment to a blog posting so I’ve repeated it here for the search bots to find.

What am I talking about? By default there is no row divider in the message list of Apple Mail. No alternating colors, no divider.

Turn this…

mail_before

Into this…

mail_after

However, Jon Hicks figured out how to do it and I’m repeating his steps here:

  1. First you need to install (if you havent already) Apple Developer Tools from the CDs that came with your Mac.
  2. Next browse to Applications in the Finder.
  3. Control-click on Mail and select Duplicate so you have a backup.
  4. Control-click on Mail and select Show Contents.
  5. Browse to Contents -> Resources -> English.lproj.
  6. Open MessageViewerContents.nib. It should open in Interface Builder.
  7. Select the list view at the top by clicking it once.
  8. Bring up the Attributes in the Inspector (Apple-Shift-I).
  9. Tick the box for Use Alternating Row Background third from the bottom.
  10. Save and reopen Mail.