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Here's All You Can Do to Customize the Messages Font in OS X Yosemite

Posted by Jim Tanous on October 17, 2014

This article was updated on October 22, 2014.
With OS X Yosemite, Apple has given its desktop operating system a thorough graphical overhaul. But the company has also introduced some restrictions on user customization. One such restriction that has already been noted by many users is the disappearance of font and color options in the OS X Messages app. With the new Continuity feature that lets users send SMS messages alongside iMessages right from their Mac, the Messages app is more useful than ever, but far less customizable.
Messages Preferences Mavericks
In OS X Mavericks, users could completely customize the look of both their own and others’ chat message appearance. Users had a wide range of options including font styles, sizes, colors, and backgrounds, allowing for truly custom looks to suit virtually every user’s desire.
Messages App Mavericks
In OS X Yosemite, however, users were dismayed to find almost no options for changing the look of their chats. The “Viewing” tab in the Messages app preferences is completely gone, and the only option for chat customization is font size.
Messages Preferences Yosemite
Even then, there’s a relatively limited range of font sizes from which to choose, as demonstrated in the following screenshot, with the smallest font size on the left and the largest on the right:
Messages Font Size Yosemite
Granted, most Messages users probably left their chat viewing settings at the default values. But the removal of a user-customizable option for seemingly no reason is disappointing. Here’s hoping Apple returns this feature in a future update to Yosemite.
Update: As pointed out by bryanpjones in the comments, turning off transparency effects in Yosemite enables users to once again modify message fonts in the Messages app. To disable transparency, go to System Preferences > Accessibility > Display. There, check the box titled Reduce transparency. Now quit and relaunch Messages and then head to Messages > Preferences > General. Instead of the default slider, you’ll now see a new drop-down menu under “text size” that lets you choose any installed font or size.
Yosemite Messages FontThe downside? You have to keep transparency disabled. If you change your Messages font via this method but then later uncheck the Reduce transparency box, Messages will revert to the default font and size options.

7 thoughts on “Here's All You Can Do to Customize the Messages Font in OS X Yosemite”

beep boop says:
but can other people receiving the messages see the changed font?
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HammerSix says:
What is worst is that, whoever the developer(s), this was a deliberated decision/action. This did not happen by mistake. Bad decision. ๐Ÿ™
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bryanpjones says:
If you enable the “Reduce Transparency” accessibility setting on your mac, you can change the fonts in Messages again.
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TekRevue says:
Thanks! We’ve updated the article to mention that. Strange that such an option only appears with transparency disabled.
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bryanpjones says:
Agreed. I am a fan of the transparency effects and don’t want to sacrifice them for this.
djr12 says:
Thank you for this awesome tip, bryanpjones! This is a bit kludgy, but I’m finding that I can have the best of both worlds by reducing transparency, setting my font as desired, and then turning the reduce transparency setting off. I imagine that won’t survive a restart, but it’s the best of both worlds until you do, and it’s easy to do the procedure every time you reboot.
denny says:
Ok, anyone out there manage to figure out how to remove the ‘alias’ tails that attach to the lower left corner of new aliases that are created… I could do it in Mavericks but Yosemite has me stymied…
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Chuck Hunt says:
I hope they fix it soon.
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trurl says:
Stupid. Really stupid. By default my messages are in white font on light green background. hard to read. Really the new contrast less OSX and iOS design is stupid.
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Seelview says:
The bad part for me is that Messages uses a weird font as the main font and i can’t change it back ๐Ÿ™ so it’s almost unusable…
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bryanpjones says:
By weird font, I bet you’re using a Retina Macbook Pro. I have the same situation.
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