Trevor Burnham 4 years ago • updated by Nikos Kanellopoulos 7 months ago 141
In TextMate themes, you can easily indicate partially transparent colors on both background and foreground elements by specifying a 4-channel hex code. (For instance, #ffffff88 would give you a partly transparent white.) ST2 currently ignores these.

I'd love to be able to define alpha channels in my color schemes, preferably with the TextMate convention.
This would be absolutely fantastic for coding graphical applications.  If you set up a build method that watched your files for changes and then recompiled / reloaded whenever you changed a file, you could have your application constantly visible in the background updating as edit your code.  I've done this before and believe me, it's as cool as it sounds.
Well, most UX/front-end dev use auto-save and, if they can, dual screens to handle this. They alt-tab and switch between their editor and the browser to get an instant (or at least quick) feedback.

Not sure this is a killer-feature, but this sounds cool anyway.
This is good for more than just GUI apps. It's great to be able to refer to documentation or other information behind the code you are currently working on.
Open a copy or a screen shot of code in the background. Lay your sublime text over it and see the differences immediately.

Making it easy to spot code differences, instead of playing "what's different between these two" all day long. Even with git GUI programs, it isn't as clean and easy.
Bumping this only because it's such a fundamentally awesome UI change.
Happy to bump this idea too after a Google search for this exact thing landed me here
+1, been waiting for this for a long long time... with gnome moving away from compiz, my hack to set transparency on the whole window doesn't work anymore.  : P  Currently trying to figure out how to configure xmonad to do that.

As @Drew and @Dave said earlier, there are very practical applications for this type of functionality--things that people would love to be able to do with ST2!

I really liked this about the old TM. I'm gushing over Sublime Text 2, this would be icing on the cake. I know it sounds fluffy, and I'd be lying if I didn't admit that was a large part of it, but it was pretty cool to see the photoshop rgb/hex beneath my window (it's a stretch, but trust me, this is a useful feature)

This is one of the first things I looked for when loading TM themes into ST2.
Would be awesome.
+1 Missing this feature a lot, coming from textmate.
I don't know what you're doing wrong but this has been working for me ever since (2 month ago). For both background and foreground colors.

Twilight.tmTheme for example has "<key>lineHighlight</key><string>#FFFFFF08</string>" which is truly not an #ffffff white when I enable line highlighting. I also used this for my own scope definitions.
This makes colors in ST2 transparent for me, but it does not make the overall window background transparent.
You mean you want the whole window transparent? Or only the background?

The first would be quite easy to achieve, the latter is tough. Still, they both require some OS-specific tweaks while the latter would require even more. On Windows I assume you'd have to either use a multi-layered window and a bunch of layers on that window and stuff (I never completely got it) or capture the to-be-rendered area behind it and draw it below the actual program's output. If you can even do that.
And that's only one OS.

This isn't something you'd program application-based for multiple plattforms. Try some methods espacially made for your OS (there are a bunch of programs that can set window's transparencys) if you really need it.
We do mean adjusting the opacity of the main view's background--so we can see other windows behind our code (to reference things, see test results, or see updates to graphical things while we code, etc..)

I don't see why it couldn't be done.  At least in both OS X and Linux (gnome-terminal, even when not using compiz) the window managers support it... and ST2 is already compiled for different platforms.  There must be OS-specific stuff in the code already.  If ST2 were open source this probably would've been done already.  : )
If ST2 were open source...

Then it wouldn't cost me any money to feed my unicorn. I'm a HUGE fan of open source, but I can't think of a single free app I would trust as much as I do ST2. Skinner is doing a fantastic job of keeping this up to date. When my biggest bitch about his software is that the background isn't transparent (and that may be it)...

I'm really happy with ST2. Every now and then I get nostalgic and open TM, but I'm sold on ST2 100%. However, I would like to note that TM didn't make the entire window transparent. That's ugly to a distracting degree, it just looks wrong. There is shareware out there which enables you to do this on the Mac. 

What I want is just the background. Open terminal and set it pro and then adjust the background opacity, that's what I'm talking about. 
It really does need to be the background, not the foreground text.  Transparent backgrounds are awesome, transparent text is hard to read.  There's some examples here that show useful and good transparency versus bad and hard to use transparency.
While I definitely agree, I've actually gotten used to transparent foreground text. It makes it easier to read the text behind the code, which is at times useful. 
I'm not quite sure what the purpose of that link is. Although thank you for the share, really it was quite interesting though absolutely off of the topic.
I'm on Linux. Making the whole window transparent would work for me. I sometimes like editing in vim because I have my terminal set to specific opacity.
Full window transparency would be just fine for me. Sure, maybe this could be handled at the OS level, but most people do not know how to turn on that sort of thing and set it on a per-application basis. Would doing a blunt full window transparency feature require much of a serious shim per-OS?
This would be totally amazing, googled to find this very thing.  I have been using VIM which allows me to have the background transparent, but doing a lot of python stuff, I get sick of trying to keep tabs on the ahem, tabs.  +1 if ST2 had a transparent background :)
A minor feature. Cross-platform probably not easy to implement at all, so possibly only for the OS X folks (since I bet the majority of those upvoting are coming from TextMate).
Not me - I'm coming from Ubuntu, and I like beauty. :) One of Sublime's great strengths is being cross-platform. I'll take compromises (like having the whole window be transparent, rather than just the editing pane) if it means including Linux.
Coming from Vim, Linux and OS X user. Just upvoted it.
I would love to see this on Windows as well, I have been using Metapad, Emacs and some of Vim just for this feature,  probably it will not be easy but I really hope they find some way to make this a cross-platform feature, that would make me so happy.
I want it too. Once reason I've been holding on to textmate
Voted. its an awesome feature to have.
Please include this feature as transparency is very helpful on smaller laptop screens to be able to watch the progress of a console or debug session taking place behind the editor. Thanks!
Would love to have transparency like in iTerm2, having a hotkey to toggle between transparency would be awesome as well. 
I do miss this in Sublime (probably the only thing I don't get with Sublime that I want).  When you don't have a lot of screen real estate it's nice to be able to look through your editor to the reference you are using or the content you are working on.
Legalize it!! :)

Yes, I want it very much.


So, is this feature being considered for upcoming releases, if so, when? If not, why?



Ditto.  I am curious why @Jon Skinner hasn't said anything in this thread...?  It's been over two years and we haven't heard a peep.  Jon, what's up?  If there is some serious issue in doing this, please let us know!  If not, let us know why it's either taking so long, or you are unwilling to do it.  Thanks!


That's his style. He works more or less on lone wolf mode, following a roadmap that we have no idea of. But he did create a high quality product that thousands love.

The community is suffering though. We have absolutely no idea of what is his long term view for Subilme, what is in the future for Sublime, what is important and what is superfluous in his opinion...


+1 - really need to be able to see windows in the background (it helps to observe terminal output, progress bars, and the like)


+1 Yes please. Totally useful feature, especially on smaller screens, when observing terminal output, color hex values, text on websites, emails, you name it. Plus it looks cool when you've got a nice wallpaper in the background :-)



It's shameful that such a feature-rich app doesn't support this already!

This is the only reason I have not switched to ST2 because it doesn't support transparency.  My Textmate theme uses transparency for almost all syntax (for example HTML attributes), and since ST ignores these it just ends up being a big grey blob.

Add this and I purchase ST2.  I won't be switching until I can use my TM theme properly.

+1 for me too!!

Subtle but really opens up the desktop like mirrors in a room :)


 Being able to set transparency for the background colour would be very nice. And as some other commented - I'd also prefer that the foreground colour (text colour) remains opaque.


Where's the vote button. I WANT.


Background transparancy and a hot key to toggle it would be money in this app.


This would make the shift from emacs on a transparent terminal to sublime text soo much easier... 

Would love this feature!


+1... I was searching for this feature on net and landed here.  If it can possible then please make it happen.

I also want a transparent bg!, it's very productive to be able to see your browser behind your editor.

Yup.. me too please +1

+1 I'm interested in this as well


+1 miss transparent background. everything else has it!


Would love to have ftp in the background and be able to see confirm auto uploading on saves.  This feature would be especially useful to me when working remotely on my laptop, where screen space is limited.

+1 for background transparency!

+1 for background transparency!


Btw, I just found this plugin adjusting the transparency for Windows users posted by @SublimePackages: https://github.com/vhanla/SublimeTextTrans


This is nice and helpful for interim, but just to be nitpicky -- this plugin uses the Win API to set the opacity of the entire application, not just the background.


Apparently, you are right about that. Judging by the screenshot in the readme it looked like it only affects the background but after downloading and trying for myself I saw it was affecting all the windows. Still, worth being mentioned.

Added an issue where i give the fix to make it work in winxp (as it didn't work for me until I changed that line)


I belive it is possible to create such plugin for linux/mac but I'm not familiar with what DLL's look like in these OS.

+1 The only thing I miss from Textmate.


You know, there is this awsome "up arrow" next to the issue where you can "upvote" an issue. This makes it absolutely obsolete to post "+1" in the comments and spam my inbox when I am waiting for helpful comments on an issue.

Here, I made a small illustration: http://i.imgur.com/nCOTMAA.png


Seems like every single issue tracking system I've ever seen has led to endless +1's. The onus is probably on issue systems to do a better job of channeling human nature. Perhaps a comment beginning with "+1" could just strip out the +1 and upvote the issue - and if it's just a +1, don't post the comment at all (just upvote). Or, overhaul the comment entering system to hit people over the head with "upvote rather than '+1'".


+1, do want, will do terrible, terrible things to get


Sublime Text 3 Beta is out. Does it work now? If not, maybe we can help get it in there before release?



+1..... I miss my wallpaper.

+1 ... just because I think it looks badass.


This would be an awesome feature.


+1, would love to see this in 3.


Please, stop with +1, it only makes people get notified about your useless comment. Instead, upvote this topic by clicking on the green counter's arrow at the top.


PS : For windows users that want this feature, check SublimeTextTrans by vhanla  and apply my fix :

+1 really craving this feature!


Under any linux with Compiz, you can use Opacity, Brightness and Saturation Setting to make an application transparent.

compiz is heavily bugged though

+1 - I'd find this useful.


I would dig this, especially if you had the browser underneath you could instantly watch changes...


Usually I never bother to vote any of these up and check up every so often to see if the feature has emerged.

But in this rare case, this happens to be the only feature stopping me from switching to Sublime. I currently use TextMate.

On a daily basis, I have various code windows and terminals overlapping one another. While coding, at the same time I'm monitoring what's going on in the background for activity. This is a deal breaker for me. Implement this, and consider me a user.

+100 It is VERY important for developers :)

+1 — This would be awesome for my workflow.


+1 This is literally the only feature keeping me from investing fully into sublime text.  I love everything else.  

Yes yes all these +1's are great.  Did you click the upvote thing at the top of this page?  It's a green speech balloon, and you can upvote there!  That's what'll get this issue to the top of the list--not +1 comments... and we'd all like to see this issue get to the top of the list!

\\ I think that the balloon is blue until you vote. Once you vote it turns green.  \\

I have transparency set up in all of my terminal windows and apps (i.e. PAC Manager). This is very useful when overlaying terminal windows on top of other windows to check commands or differences in files. I would love this feature to be in sublime. 

+1 This will be really cool! Thanks!

+1 Exactly like how iTerm2 works would be great.

Is there any way to do this under Windows?

Yes, there is a plugin created by vhanla and posted in these comments 8 months ago by FichteFoll that allows you to use a Windows specific DLL to set the transparency. I answered to the post here to give a fix for an error it had on Windows XP but vhanla still didn't update the plugin to reflect the change as this might also cause problems on other versions of windows. Still, you can get the plugin from the above link and check my post to resolve the issue (you only have to edit one line in a file).

It seems to me that nobody cares anymore about this feature as not even the Mac and Linux users are willing to look for or try to adapt the way this plugin works although i'm not sure if it is possible.


There are many of us that still care about this feature. It remains the sole roadblock between me and Sublime as my primary text editor (also a roadblock between me and purchasing it).

As people stated when that plugin was posted, it does not provide the functionality we are looking for. It makes the entire window (text included) transparent. It is hard to imagine anything at the OS level will be able to do anything short of making the entire window transparent. The desired feature is background transparency, so that the text is still entirely opaque. This likely will have to come from Sublime text itself.


I understand, I was expecting my post to cause some reactions because of how little votes this feature has gained over these past 8 months (not even 100).

I'm ok with how the plug-in works on windows as I set up the transparency to about 90% which is enough to still make the text clearly visible on the black background while the menus are completely opaque (not sure if it's related to the dll).

It's not perfect but at least I don't have to alt+tab to check my updates anymore, (that cube is rotating).

I do hope a more viable solution comes up though. : s

I can speak for most Linux users in that, although this is a very desirable feature, we can make the entire window transparent easily with a compositor like xcompmgr or compton, and bind that to a keystroke--so the plugin is of no interest to us, only the feature as specified in the first post.

I understand and even though the plugin is nearly perfect in some cases (at least in mine), I do hope to see a real background transparency functionality coming up.

Thanks so much!  I'm using the same exact version of Windows that supposedly was used to create this plugin, Win7 64bit.  However, I think I'm doing something wrong.  After I install/load this plugin, I do see the new menu options for the plugin; unfortunately, all the Opacity level settings are greyed out/disabled.  Even the plugin's "About" info is greyed out. 

I also tried changing like 78 to "HDesktop = GetDesktopWindow()".  However, that didn't help any.

Is there something I need to do in addition to just placing the package file in my user "packages" directory?

Well, I don't know why but you should probably try to re-download it and be sure to have the following folder structure "Sublime Text x.y.z\Data\Packages\SublimeTextTrans\" containing all the plug-in files. I don't remember doing anything else.

@TheSlider2, I dont have a directory called "Data" anywhere under, "C:\Program Files\Sublime Text 3\*" or under, "%appdata%\Sublime Text 3"

I already tried putting the, "SublimeTextTrans.sublime-package" package file under my, "%appdata%\Sublime Text 3\Installed Packages\" directory.  However, all the opacity submenu options are still greyed out/disabled.

All I did was copy the "SublimeTextTrans.sublime-package" package file into the same directory as all my other Sublime Text 3 packages that I added.

I've tried this on two separate PC's (Win7 64bit) with full transparency/Aero Glass support; however under both cases, the menu options are greyed out for this package.

It appears something fundamental is missing or wrong.  Im pretty sure I put the package in the right directory; or, I wouldnt have seen the newly added Opacity menu options.

Does it go without saying that this package works for both Sublime Text 3 and Sublime Text 2?  I dont have Sublime Text 2 installed.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Oh, I don't know about ST3, i'm using ST2 so there might be an incompatibility there. You can try looking for the problem by comparing file contents with a different plug-in and checking is the right packages are imported in SublimeTrans.py. I can't help you much with that. : s

If you want to try with ST2, be sure to wait a few seconds that it generates it's  basic folder structure on the first launch (mainly the contents of the DATA folder) before copying the plugin in there.

Very useful feature, would love to see this in Sublime Text.

sometimes i use Vim instead of Sublime just for the transparent background.
Like so many of you, this feature for me is the only thing preventing Sublime from getting my money. Add this feature please!! It's so valuable to be able to see what's going on in the background. I'd upvote a million times if I could. Please implenment! 
I also really want this feature!
That looks like the equivalent of Stardock Windowblinds; which is what I use.  Unfortunately, these enhancements dont have a way to add transparency ONLY to the ST3 coding window.  I tried adding transparency to ST3; but it just added transparency to the whole darn window (which doesnt look as good as you would think).  Getting transparency on the titlebar/borders/dropdown menus is about as good as it gets.

Look at the screenshot:

It looks different. The whole window isn't transparent just certain areas/controls. I could be wrong though, I've never used it.
Please make this happen!
+1 Please do this!
Look like a windows plugins got released, no Mac/Linux though:

Nope, that only sets transparency to the window, not the text area only. We can do that ages ago with lots of apps on the internetz.
Menu doesn't look transparent to me. It's useless for me though; I'm a Mac guy.

Yes, would be a nice feature
I can continue to code with Sublime Text while the background coding video / tutorial etc. is playing.
Is there anything about MAC OSX users. ?
I ended-up here, trying to figure out how I can have a semi-transparent block caret.
This is currently not feasible in ST.

You can make your caret wide by using, say,  "caret_extra_width": 6
However, having a caret that completely hides the character beneath it, is... pointless.