How do I set default background color in Textedit?

Preferences -> New Document -> Font doesnt help.

That black on white isn't too good in nights.

4 Answers 4


You could also use WriteRoom. It's based on TextEdit but has a few additional features like customizable themes.

  • For plain text editing, TextWrangler (free) can use BBEdit themes.
    – Dɑvïd
    Aug 29, 2015 at 22:55
  1. CMD + T
  2. Adjust document color.
  3. Adjust text color.
  • Unfortunately, this doesn't appear to set a custom default page and text colour (OP's question) - it only defines them for the current document.
    – Dɑvïd
    Aug 29, 2015 at 22:53
  • Not working. New files keep showing up in the default default fonts. Why white background? this is not a sheet.
    – Dr Potato
    Jan 18, 2021 at 20:56

While Louis told you the literal way to change your font and background color, the cursor will remain unchanged, making the editor practically unusable. That's just the Apple way.

Your best bet is to switch to another editor (like in Lauri's response) or simply tint your background to something less glaring than hard-white.

I know this ain't the answer you're looking for, but this is a computer for people who do NOT want the complexity of customization. Sorry.

  • Aw, I see I hurt some MacNut's feelings. But despite many people's unconditional love, Apple products are designed to work one way: the Apple way. It's like Henry Ford, "Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black." The truth hurts.
    – SMBiggs
    May 7, 2014 at 5:55
  • I'm assuming you're not trolling because I'm on StackExchange, but saying that OS X only works in the "Apple way" and isn't customizable is only a thought that is reinforced by a group of people who got mad after trying to open a .exe file the first time they used a Mac.
    – Louis Boux
    May 26, 2014 at 16:16
  • @Louis: Prove me wrong; how do you change change the color of the cursor in TextEdit? You might even get some points for a correct answer here.
    – SMBiggs
    May 27, 2014 at 17:10
  • 1
    You can't change the cursor color in TextEdit you can't in NotePad (windows) or gedit (linux). So I guess having those kind of text editors by default in your OS is not really the "Apple way" but everyone's way. If you want those features you're gonna have to use another text editor because those those kind of programs are just simple text editors that exist so you can quickly edit any text file such as config files, which is why the default font in them is monospaced. I wouldn't know what programs to recommend to the OP because I'm a software engineer. I don't write anything other than code.
    – Louis Boux
    May 27, 2014 at 20:02
  • OS X is 100% POSIX compliant, which gives you access to a limitless number of tools that lets you do anything you could possibly want with any computer. The fact that you would even suggest that OS X is not for people who want the complexity of customization could only mean that you are either trolling, or that you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.
    – Louis Boux
    May 27, 2014 at 20:21

Use TextMate.

You get all the simplicity of TexEdit (and you can easily disable all the little noise). I even find its startup speed better than TextEdit's.

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