Stupid Stack Tricks

Written by Chris Weiss (hotiron) in Tips and tricks

Here we go again, another useless OSX trick. This time it’s stacks (again). if you caught my previous overview of customizing your stack overlay icons then you probably already have some cool looking stacks going on. Here’s another tip for tweaking them to the max. This will let you run a customized graphic for the icon that appears on your dock when you open a stack. Read on.

Custom Stack Icon

I used to think that once you’ve customized your stack overlay icons you were done, that was all you could tweak. But last night I started looking at the graphic that shows on your dock when you open a stack. It’s just a PNG image file that your dock app uses to replace your stack when it’s open. So if it’s just a PNG we can customize it right? But how should it look, how should it behave? Well why not have it be an empty stack icon when your stack is expanded? It empties out right? So I exported my stack icon (usually a Mac icon file) as a PNG from within CandyBar and replaced the PNG file in my dock app. And guess what, I think it looks very cool! Check it out for yourself.

More Custom Stack Icon

This is one of the easiest mods to do. All you need is a 128 pixel PNG version of the stack overlay icon you are using. Rename it pileArrow.png and copy it over the default PNG file you will find at (Drive)/System/Library/CoreServices/ You should make a back up copy of the default file first. Once you have overwritten the file with your own PNG, restart Finder and reload your dock (or just log out and log back in). Now when you open your stack, instead of getting some odd white rectangle with a down triangle, now you have an open stack icon with it’s contents above. Why not try it now!

Stupid Stack Tricks, 3.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating


  1. NightLion says:

    Great — but which Stack icon are you using? Is it available for download?

  2. NightLion, the stacks you see here are simple mods of Plastic Box by Tomek Omelan available to download right here on I just saved it as a 128px PNG and made it black-and-white in Photoshop (really I just reduced the saturation to zero and then changed the brightness a little to darken it up for that minimalist look). The files I used are here if you want to check them out.

  3. Cerise says:

    I had to get in my mac to figure out what your were talking about. This is such a great idea. I never would have thought to look to change that file. :D

  4. Cerise, that’s what I was thinking. I was poking around in and saw that PNG and recognized. I thought why can’t that look like an empty stack instead. How easy!

  5. Sekera says:

    You can even do more with your stack in Drive)/System/Library/CoreServices/ It is very easy to change your Stack background, the black box with the white edges. Just change the files: stackbackground-bl.png, stackbackground-bm.png, stackbackground-br.png, and so on to get a unique stack background. You have to design it on your own since there are no designers out there who think of designing a stack background :)

    Dont forget to back up the original files though! And refresh your dock with terminal “killall Dock” to get your new stack background.

    Chris, if you are interested in doing a detailed tutorial on this I would appreciate it to support you with replaceable files of my own stack background.


  6. Sekera, yeah that’s a great Snow Leopard mod that I love too! I usually use the great Inset Dark by ~theBassment download here or the original Inset mod by Rakundo you can download here and both are very well made. I like their dark transparency and thin subtle borders. The way stack backgrounds should look on a minimal desktop.

  7. Sekera says:

    Thank you Chris for the links, they are great! Hope to see more “stupid” tricks!

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