How to remove the faux leather in iCal for OS X Lion

Among the many changes to iCal in Apple’s OS X 10.7 Lion is a rather horrible leather effect.

Sometimes dressing up software in this way is useful – it makes it approachable, fun or easier to understand. But in this instance it clashes badly with the rest of OS-X which takes a minimalist approach. The leather-effect is distracting and out of place.

iCal with horrible leather effect

Fortunately, fixing this is fairly simple – just a matter of changing a few graphics files hidden inside your Mac.

What might go wrong

First, a word of warning. Alongside the graphics files you will have access to files that can have a profound effect on iCal. If you follow the instructions you should be fine. But if you accidentally move, rename or delete those files, iCal might stop working properly or you might lose data from your calendar. If you’re the kind of person who accidentally deletes files, don’t try this.

I’m not providing any technical support around this hack. If you choose to try it, it’s entirely your responsibility if you lose any data, waste time, need to re-install iCal or purchase any software or services to fix things.

How to get rid of the leather theme in iCal

You’ll need an administrator password. For most people this is the password they use to log on to their Mac, but if someone else administers your Mac (meaning you’re not allowed to install software and so on) then you’ll have to ask them for help.

  1. Make sure iCal is closed and that you have a backup of iCal.
    You can do that by creating an empty folder on your desktop, selecting iCal and dragging it into the folder whilst holding the ALT key. If you do this, you’ll see a little plus sign in a green bubble when you drag it. Make sure you do it this way, otherwise you won’t copy the iCal properly, you’ll just get an alias. 
  2. In your Applications folder, click on your original copy of iCal while holding the CTRL key so you get a pop-up menu and choose ‘Show package contents’.
    This lets you see ‘inside’ iCal and look at some of the files it’s built from.
    iCal pop-up menu 
  3. Open the folder ‘Contents’ and then within that, open the folder ‘Resources’.
    Inside, you’ll find the icons and background images which are used to draw iCal on your computer’s screen. 
  4. Download ical_lion_silver.zip, open it up in your Finder and Select All.
    These are plain grey versions of the background and buttons you will use to replace those that Apple shipped with Lion. 
  5. Drag the files into the iCal: Contents: Resources folder.
    You will likely have to authenticate this action (i.e. enter your password). You’ll be asked whether you want to ‘Keep both files, Stop or Replace’. Click ‘Apply to all’ and ‘Replace’ then enter your password.
    Click on 'Apply to all' and 'Replace'
  6. Close the ‘Resources’ and ‘Contents’ folders if they’re still open, start up iCal and hey-presto! you have a plain silver theme.
    iCal silver theme

And that’s it. Good luck!

(PS I’m not the first, or the only person to do this – MacNix has done the same thing for Address Book and  Stu has a choice of red or silver themes at his website.)

117 comments

  1. Thanks Giles – this is welcome news!

  2. Timichango

    Any way to change the font color? I can still see the brown/beige hinting around the edges in the top bar… FUGLY.

    • gilescolborne

      No I don’t – but I’ll keep looking.

      • sue fusco

        you are a genius for making this so easy. i am a computer idiot and have actually managed to follow your perfect instruction without deleting anything and now have peace as opposed to esthetic panic every time i open up ical. thank you so much

  3. Arthur Wrigth

    Thank you.

  4. daniel peter

    Good! … Thanks!

  5. Excellent! Exactly what I needed. That leather tile definitely looked out of place. thx!

  6. Awesome, much more like it. Don’t understand apple’s thinking with the leather – Thank you!

  7. Mark Mason

    Great! Much welcomed. Now, if only the calendar box and calendar date numbers could be legible. The light-gray boxes and numbers are nearly invisible on my laptop. Has anyone replaced the calendar date box image using plain vanilla black?

  8. Jonathan Smith

    THANK YOU!!!

  9. How many animals had to die for Apple to create the new iCal out of leather? Disgraceful!

  10. Thank you!

    Anyone know how to stop the all-events having to be scrolled if there are more than say 5? We use this feature extensively and so far, it’s the only bad thing with Lion.

    Can anyone help?

    Cheers

    Jon

    • Susan WOB

      >Anyone know how to stop the all-events having to be scrolled if there are more than say 5?

      Did you ever get a reply to this, or find out somewhere how to make the all-day events area bigger? I have been hunting for an answer and so far have not found one.

  11. Great! Thank you! Now, can you do the same for AddressBook?

    t.lo

  12. ian waddell

    excellent, thank-you.
    surely apple are going to make this an option.

  13. AHHHH! MUCH BETTER…… :D
    Thanks!!!

  14. Has anyone figured out the brown font thing yet… ??

  15. Awesome! Worked like a charm.

  16. Dead simple – thanks for the link

  17. To copy the file from the Dock I had to hold down the Command key while dragging, not the ALT key. When I selected all the new files from the zipped folder and entered my password, the files simply moved over. There was no dialog asking if I wanted to replace the files. The relaunching iCal is unchanged.

  18. Thank God for that! You’re a lifesaver!

  19. Thanks for the instructions – I’ve updated 2 x Macs and it worked perfectly both times. The beige fake leather look is the most hideous thing I have ever seen on a Mac.

  20. Avenged110

    Hey, please don’t stab me for it, but is it possible to add the faux leather files to iCal 4 in Snow Leopard? If so, can someone post the files? Thanks, and again, I just have strange tastes in this sort of thing.

  21. Hello,

    This is a great tip that unfortunately has not worked for me. Now when I open iCal, though it looks lovely and leather-less, it becomes completely unresponsive after about 5 seconds. Can’t click on anything, can’t even quit it. Have to force quit.

    Has anyone else had this problem or have any ideas to fix it?

    Thanks.

    • Charles Burns

      I guess that’s the reason you started by making a back-up copy…

  22. Good! Very good! One ugly visual removed from my Mac.

  23. I can’t get it to work…it doesn’t say ‘Keep both files, Stop or Replace’. Help!

  24. Dan Clark

    THank god someone has done this, I cannot believe apple have gone down this route of making their usually awesome UI so bad taste. What next, walnut and velvet curtains for dashboard?

    Thanks Giles!

  25. Charles Burns

    Thank you for this. Now why on earth don’t Apple make it easier by offering a range a ‘themes’ as they used to, allowing users to customise the appearance in iCal preferences? I recall that (once, long ago) Apple used to be rather good at this!

    • YES. I really love doing this, and though I understand their desire to establish their branded look everywhere, I believe they could still do that across the board with clean looking options everywhere that would still give everyone awesome options.

  26. Jeff in Vancouver

    Thanks for this. I hate tacky crap like the leather skin or old brushed metal. I prefer the clean silver look.

    The wooden borders on garage band make it hard for me to take it seriously. Apple never played the tacky crap card years ago but they have a few times in the last few years.

  27. I don’t like the leather design either.

    It does look better in fullscreen mode, however. In fullscreen, the leather border becomes much narrower, and on my widescreen monitor, the calendar looks kind of like one of those big old “month at a glance” desktop blotter calendars that people kept on their desks in the old days (20 years ago).

    I think that’s what Apple was going for — not that that was a good choice :-)

  28. Thanx for getting rid of the brownie….. Has anybody found a way to change the font colors back to the same colors as the calendar color ?

  29. thanks ! my eyes were bleeding ! ouch Apple is really on a bad way

  30. got it ..thanks

  31. thanks! worked like a charm

  32. worked great thanks (: the only thing I’d like to do now is stop that annoying page flip when I want to quickly flick through the months – ridiculously over the top animation!

  33. THANK YOU! That is a relief – For a while there I thought I was stuck in a world of fake Louis Vuitton.

  34. Thank you!

  35. Thank you! Tried it and it worked great. I also tried using a tropical themed png file from Firefox but cannot seem to get the sizing right. Do you have any idea how to utilize a themed type graphic like that on the header in Firefox for Windows?

  36. What a Relief !
    Thank you so much
    I truly appreciate your support.

  37. that is so much better, thanks for an easy fix.

  38. Thanks! I couldn’t believe my eyes when the need for iCloud sync forced me to “upgrade” to Lion. It’s unfathomable that the fake leather design of iCal and Address book could slip past whatever control mechanisms there are at Apples interface design department.

    Apple was once a leader in user interface design (both in terms of usability and graphic design). This however I can’t find words for. I’m shaken and very very disappointed.

  39. alan green

    Thank you. What a relief!

    Is it possible to communicate to Apple what a profoundly naff design that false leather calendar thing is? How can a company whose whole success is built on cool, minimalist design allow something like that to be put out as part of its newest OS?

    Now to deal with Address Book!

  40. Phew! Couldn’t bear to look at the faux leather. Thanks for a great tip.

  41. Worked like a charm! Love the sew silver look!

    God I’d never believe Apple would make anything this ugly – ugly ugly leather-look-a-like.

  42. Worked very nicely – thank you. Now if I can just change the Address Book back to how it used to be… Gotta love progress!! ;-)

  43. David @ 26

    Thanks Giles. I knew I could rely on you.

  44. This is a really great article on the subject of why Apple’s hardware is so fantastic and it’s UI is going backwards

    http://madebymany.com/blog/apples-aesthetic-dichotomy

  45. charlieREd

    genial muchas gracias

  46. Gee, thanks loads!!! What a relief that was horrible!!! Now I want to change the calendar!!! I sure hope Apple doesn’t go on with this kind of stuff!!!!!! Thanks, Elvi

  47. I changed both the calendar and the address book and I’m soooo relieved!!!!! Thanks loads!!!!

  48. Thanks very much – it worked like magic. Naturally it required a restart to take affect, but that’s common sense.
    Would it be as easy to change the iCal gridlines and text to make it more visible (darker)?

    Thanks again.

    • gilescolborne

      Probably not so straightforward – not something I’ve looked into, to be honest.

      • monjott

        Please consider looking into changing the calendar line and date (font) color, it is impossible to make out any date if there’s no events – so SO frustrating! I can’t believe that the whole (Internet) world is going to lighter and lighter font coloring.

  49. Thanks!! That was quick and easy.

  50. fantastic…thank you.

  51. Hey, I forgot to make a backup :S I know it’s stupid but now I want to change it back… Any way of doing it without reinstaling lion?

  52. Thank you. It looks great.

  53. Corky Aucreman

    It worked fine, so far, but, it didn’t change it in iCloud, which is what I use. Is there a fix for this?

    Thanks

  54. Seth Kelly

    Thank you. I can start using Ical again.

  55. Just curious – is there a way to restore the old look if you want to?

    • Eric Fauque

      The copy you made of the original iCal before doing the changes will still open with the ugly leather look.

      You did make a copy of the original iCal richt? :-)

  56. Hi,

    with 10.7.3, ical with silver theme installed, now has brown ‘shadows’ around buttons.. like its fighting the silver theme ;)

    would be nice if there would be a fix on the horizon..

    thanks for the great work

  57. I was horrified when I upgraded to Lion and opened my iCal. The fake leather is butt ugly and the stitching is horrid. It’s a Ye Olde World redesign. Steve Jobs must have been on his death bed when they snuck this one thru. How on earth did this got approved?

  58. I can’t thank you enough. What was apple thinking?

  59. Thanks for this! I hope Apple realizes they don’t need to go this far to make us feel warm and fuzzy about our digital life all the time.

  60. Eric Fauque

    By the way, thanks a lot for this easy solution!
    That leather look looked so wrong in Lion!

  61. Thanks a lot ! this was so uggly i could not use iCal any more

  62. Thank you! :) wery helpful!

  63. happy bunny

    Thanks! You made my day. Actually you made at least my coming two weeks. Couldn’t believe it when I opened iCal last night. What were they thinking, indeed.

  64. Thank God for that! I thought I was going to have to buy a Filofax again If I must be subjected to this dreadful design disaster.

    I guess Sir Jonny doesn’t have mates in the OS software development department.

  65. Sarah Smith

    Aarrgghh! I HATE HATE HATE the leather-look diary pages with a vengeance. Why did Apple do this?

    Also, I’m reluctant (too old and too computer unsavvy) to want to bother changing it all. It seems to go against everything that Apple ever stood for.

    Who’s neck needs to go on the line for this.

    And why can’t Apple just develop a software upgrade to deal with it?

    Grrrrrrrrr!

  66. Reiner Schlenker

    Thanks a lot. The iCal leather theme is really bad. Cheap effects with no benefits at all (especially the tear-off animation). Poorly designed and programmed. Looks like an internship project.

  67. Great! I did not like the leatherly look at all. Now it’s the nice plain look again!

    JJ

  68. Hi, great post, easy to follow and got rid of the new iCal horridness, much appreciated, Jay

  69. This worked like a charm! Thank you!

  70. ttyymmnn

    Thank you so much for this hack. Kudos to you.

  71. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!

  72. Thanks! This worked great, and I don’t cringe anymore when opening ical.

  73. Thank you soooooooo much!
    it’s the first thing i really hated when i change to Lion…
    What an ugly design for once from Apple!

  74. Thank you so much. I had a Macbook Pro previously that was stolen in March. I purchased a new one in May and hated the new (leather) look in iCal. This is exactly what I needed and wanted. I appreciate it so much. I’m going to save your link so I can let other people know how to do this on theres. Thank you again.

    Victor

  75. THANK YOU!!!! I wasn’t even using iCal since it was SO damn ugly. What were they thinking? Couldn’t they provide a choice of themes? This is the greatest, thanks so much.

  76. This doesn’t fix the Retina version for ical :( all their files have @2x for example: “iCalTBSeg_On_Left@2x.png” which is what’s used for iCal Retina.

    • I found that with the Retina on MBP, there are a few more files that need to have the color change. I just copied the existing images to replace the “2x@” images. it may not have the resolution, but it worked for me.

    • Had same problem, so simply deleted ALL “@2x.png” ‘s thinking this would do it…but didn’t.

      After another look through the Resources folder I found these two files had not replaced because they are named differently (LeatherTileFullscreenStitchless.png & LeatherTileStitchless.png) and new .png named (LeatherTileFullscreen.png & LeatherTile.png) were not being used.

      Soooo, copy word “Stitchless” then delete (LeatherTileFullscreenStitchless.png & LeatherTileStitchless.png) then paste word “Stitchless” into (LeatherTileFullscreen”HERE”.png & LeatherTile”AND HERE”.png)

      Worth the hassel to make all these manual changes though :)

  77. Great fix, why did they make it so damn ugly? So un Apple like.

  78. Thanks so very much!

  79. Seems to work. Although I agree that it’s the command/apple button, not the control button, that you need to hold down while copying ical to the desktop folder. Holding down control did not produce the little green arrow.

  80. SargentPaul

    Thanks for posting. Worked great.

  81. Fonts still have brown edges

    Is there a fix for the font that still looks brown? Pointless to do this if you have a silver interface with brown font highlights. Thanks.

  82. Is it possible to change the font of each event to the color of each event? Instead of just having the colored dot next to it? (Like it used to be)

  83. Running Mountain Lion…

    There were four files that did not change when I added the new files. All four files started with “LeatherTile…”

    I modified the permissions on each of these files so that I could read/write.
    I then opened the files in Photoshop and modified the colours.
    Then, I saved them in a separate file and copied them over to the resource file.

    Worked!!!

    Now I’ve got to figure out how change the colour of the font. :)

    Thanks for doing this!

  84. Used it a few times, thanks, but now it seems it doesn´t work on the new Macbook Pro Retina (OS 10.8.1). Any ideas?

  85. Thanks so much for sharing– great!

  86. Why doesn’t the info popup open automatically as it used to when you clicked on any day in the previous version? Now you have an additional step in order to put in times and alerts. Does anyone know how to fix this?

  87. Thanks a lot.

  88. God bless you

  89. Thank you!! So easy to follow and worked great!

  90. Worked like a charm! Many thanks!

  91. Hiya, this worked when i changed it on my laptop, but not on my iMac, any ideas?

  92. Thank you.

  93. It works perfectly.. Thank you very much … I can start using my calendar again..

  94. I followed instructions but the look didn’t change. I looked at the replaced files and they are the proper gray ones. Did anyone else have this problem?

  95. Unfortunately this doesn’t work anymore. Even changing permissions won’t let you overwrite the original files.

  96. Thank you thank you thank you. I was horrified when I just opened ical in lion for the first time. Thank you. I want function, and good design not some mickey mouse fake leather, that adds nothing to function.

    Worked like a charm,

    Thanks,

    for you work. By the sounds of things I will be having to fix other apps too!

    Nancy

  97. Shawna Quinton

    Thank you! The leather was hideous.

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