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…


Into this…


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.