Getting Rid of the Translucent Menu Bar in Leopard

February 20th, 2008

Filed under: Computers and Technology

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With the latest OS X Leopard update (10.5.2) Apple finally added an option to turn off menu bar translucency. I much prefer an opaque menu bar as I find it much more legible. There is only one problem with this fix: Apple, in their infinite wisdom, decided to hide this option on computers that “don’t support transparency” due to having lower-end graphics hardware. After upgrading to 10.5.2 my MacBookPro laptop has the option to turn of menu bar transparency, but my newer and more powerful MacPro Desktop does not. After much searching and forum-reading I found that most of the people with this problem (menu bar is translucent, but the option to make it opaque is missing) had MacPro desktops with multiple monitors and video cards.

The problem it turns out, is that while one of my video cards (that drives my two primary monitors ) is a high-end ATI Radeon X1900XT that supports transparent menu bars, the second (that drives my two outer monitors used mostly for notes and email) is a cheaper NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT. The presence of the lower-end card in the system was causing the “Translucent Menu Bar” option to be hidden, even though it was supported by my other card.

Steps to fix:

  1. Turn off computer
  2. Remove low-end video card
  3. Start computer
  4. Go to System Preferences –> Desktop & Screen Saver and un-check the “Translucent Menu Bar” option
  5. Turn off computer
  6. Replace low-end video card
  7. Start computer

It is a pain in the butt, but it works to get the damn translucency turned off.

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