How to Change the Color of Notification Badges in OSX

By John-Henry | March 24, 2019

One way companies get you to click on notifications is with bright red colors. It is hypothesized that because red is the color of urgency, the color red does a good job at hijacking our prehistoric brains into reacting quickly and clicking on the notifications.

I’m not on most social media websites, but I do spend a lot of time on my laptop, and I felt like I checked my messages too much. I experimented with turning off my message notifications full stop, but that didn’t work for me because I became anxious about missing messages, which caused me to start checking my messages even more because I was never sure if I had any or not. I also experimented with using gray-scale on my computer. This also didn’t work for me, because I found that I needed color for a lot of my basic computer tasks. I recently changed the color of my notification badges to a dark blue and I can’t overstate how much this really helped.

Now whenever I get I message it now looks like this:


Getting a message now has a more ocean-y, soporific, feeling where I know it exists, but I don’t feel like I need to see it right away. The feeling is too good to fully elaborate on, and my guess is we’ll see this feature becoming more common over time. For example, I see that YouTube uses blue dots now for subscription updates:

To make this change on my mac, I used a modified form of this guide, here’s how it works:

Get to the location

Open finder and click type the key board shortcut Shift ⌘ G to open the “Go to folder” options. Go to:


Copy and edit the files

If you scroll down you’ll find two relevant files. The statuslabel.png and the statuslabel@2x.png. Make a copy of these files onto your desktop and edit them however you wish. Personally, I had no experience editing images before this but I ended up using Pixlr a free online photo editing tool. Your goal should be to make both images the same (I didn’t do this step so well, so my images are actually marginally different, but in practice, I’ve never noticed any issues).

If you want to sidestep photo editing step, you can just take mine.

statuslabel.png statuslabel

statuslabel@2x.png statuslabel2x

Move the originals out of the way.

We are almost done! Press ⌘ I on one of the original files, and under the “Name & Extension” part see if it’s editable.

If you are like me, you’ll see they are not editable and this is where you find out your computer has System Integrity Protection (SIP) turned on. No worries!

(If you are unsure you if SIP is turned on, you can type csrutil status into terminal to double check. It needs to be disabled).

The way you can disable this feature is by restarting your computer while pressing ⌘R to put your computer into recovery mode. Once in recovery mode, you can click Utilities from the banner to open terminal and type the following command:

csrutil disable

Restart your computer, and you should be able to edit your files. (If my instructions are unclear you can see here for a clearer guide.)

Great! Now go back to the same file location as described about and edit original the file names so that they are statuslabel.backup.png and statuslabel@2x.backup.png respectively. You will probably need to type in your password. Copy in your newly edited files, and give them the original statuslabel names.

Voila! You’ve now changed the color of the notification badges on your computer!

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