Import transparent PNGs

It seems I can’t manage to import PNGs properly.

I am on MacOSX 10.14.5 in ‘dark mode’ and no matter what I try, PNGs have a white background. (Tried dragging from Sketch or hard-drive, etc…)
(I re-verified - just to make sure: all my PNGs have transparent background)

How can I get rid of the white background? (Even better, if I could import SVGs)


We add the white background. That’s because a document like a PDF is unreadable on black. Many images seem to be made with the assumption that the background will be white, and so we had to make that call.

Even if we honoured the transparency, how would the images then look when you switched out of dark mode? My guess is that any white you use just disappears.

It’s not a trivial solution. If you think you have an approach that would work, let us know. I guess a setting per image would be possible, perhaps with a global default.

Hi @drewmccormack,

thx for the insights.

But tbh. I think this behaviour is not ideal.

IMO it would be better to keep the image ‘as is’ (because it’s the user’s preference and - most likely - he/she can change the artwork to their liking) and allow an override on a per-image-basis. (btw. PDFs are also readable on black, if the text and images are white :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: )

Right now I’m stuck, because I wanted to use Agenda for my next presentation, but the images on the white background look just bad.

Any other idea (secret preference, or so) how to tell Agenda to keep the transparency?

I’m afraid there is no secret setting or anything at this point. I’m also not sure Agenda is a great presentation tool TBH.

It’s a difficult balance, because I can see there are cases like yours where you want that transparency. But most transparent artwork will not work well on both light and dark backgrounds. So if we want consistency, we have to choose one, and since you print on white, that seems like the logical choice.

The exception are Apple Pencil Drawings, which dynamically adjust (black becomes white etc). For those we do not put a white background in.

We certainly take on board the feedback. But for the average user, who presumably will switch between dark and light mode each day, rather than have their images look bad on one or the other, we just choose the standard background color. And PDFs are pretty important documents for many people.

Q: If the images you have are designed to be shown on a dark background, why not just put that background in yourself, and make them non-transparent?


Ha - because they are

  • used in other documents as well and
  • there are quite some which need to be re-done
  • I’m not entirely sure where all the source-files are :grimacing:

Lots of these images were prepared for presentation(s) on a dark gradient background, but they work equally well on light backgrounds…

Only Agenda modifies the images and puts a white background on them… So it’d be easier to use another software than modifying the images.

And to be honest: Why don’t you just leave my images alone? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Technically, Agenda does not modify the images. It just draws a white background behind them. The original files are intact, and quick looking them will show them as transparent.

Optically that doesn’t make a difference, since the visual representation is altered :wink:

Not in the app, no, but it does if you need to export or quicklook the image.

Might be, but that renders Agenda pretty useless for me for this use-case, which is unfortunate, because I liked the way how I could use Agenda on the Mac/iPad/iPhone…

For now I switched back to the old-fashioned way, which doesn’t mess with my images…

Btw: I can’t export from Agenda using a dark background anyway, so that wouldn’t help at all, because I used to keep my notes on dark backgrounds when presenting…

I think the white solution for transparent PNG file makes Agenda looks ugly. Just my two cents: Would it be possible to add a choice to the user in the pop-up menu? For example, Add a white background, Add a black background, Leave the PNG alone without background added.

The problem comes with PDF files, which are very common. You end up with black text on a black background. It is completely unreadable. And since you print to white, choosing white as a standard background makes some sense.

We could perhaps see if we can treat PDF files separate to PNGs. Will think about it. But there are downsides either way: I made a diagram the other day with black arrows, which is a very common choice in diagrams, and on a black background, it would be completely useless.


how can I even print black background from Agenda? I haven’t even found an option to do that…

I’m not sure what you’re arguing here: PDF? For me, Agenda is a very cool note-taking and note-presentation tool. So, tbh. there’s no reason to sacrifice a good feature with an edge-case: (someone exports an pdf, which maybe contains a PNG using transparent background where the alpha-channel maybe shows black)… I don’t see the downsides, except you want to export to PDF -> so why not simply put a checkbox in there: add background to transparent PNGS - and you’re done…

Btw: Meanwhile I copied the stuff to Visual Studio Code and run my presentations from there, because even in VSC, it’s possible to tweak the output using some custom css. That’s a stupid workaround, I know, especially considering the fact that I opted in for Agenda just for this reason :confused:


But surely your reason for using Agenda is not for presentations? It wasn’t really designed for that. If that is your use case, maybe it would be better to actually export the notes as PDFs and use those for the presentation.

My point is just that most content is designed to work on white backgrounds, because traditionally that is what people have (white paper). Most transparent artwork will not work on a dark background, whereas almost all artwork will work on a white background. That is why we default to white backgrounds.

We will consider options for the future. We could probably add a preference to not draw in any background, the problem being then that if you switch between dark and light, many transparent images simply won’t look good in one or the other. Perhaps a per image setting would be possible. We will think about it.

While I do understand your reasoning, the question still

Why does Agenda change background heuristically based on assumptions.

First, let me cite your slogan:
‘Date-focussed note-taking’.

There’s no mention of PDF or print-optimization. It’s note-taking, that is.

Second: If I prepare my documents, it should be MY responsibility to make sure the output works on whatever format I chose. If I draw a black arrow on a black background, that surely won’t work - I know that… If I draw a white arrow on a transparent background and I want to present it that way, I know it will work. If Agenda messes with my images, I have NO influence on the proper output of my presentation/notes, because I have no control over the output (except creating special versions for Agenda). Agenda simply modifies the intended output for some reason.

IMO Agenda should not heuristically make assumptions on how I use the note. This is MY responsibility.

If there are some options (e.g. like in other Markdown tools) to tweak the output, that might be okay, but I should not be forced to use that setting, which might not match my use-case at all.

I’m using Markdown tools mostly to present ideas to other (teams). I really enjoy Agenda for that, because I can keep my notes/ideas organized and synching works like a charm over all my devices. Bit I don’t want to be forced to put my stuff on white backgrounds, nor do I want to change my graphic-workflow to output Agenda-specific images.

And as already mentioned: for me right now there’s a point where I must think about how to proceed. My (usual) imagery works on both - black and white backgrounds. And I have no intention to modify those assets and create special ‘Agenda’ versions. For me that simply doesn’t make sense…

Why does Agenda change background heuristically based on assumptions.

That’s where we differ. Agenda does not modify the background. That is the whole point. It makes the background independent of the Agenda UI. Why would an image look different based on what your macOS settings happen to be? If we were allowing our note background to change the way an image looked, that would be changing the background. Agenda preserves the background, regardless of system setting.

There’s no mention of PDF or print-optimization. It’s note-taking, that is.

A note taking app that can’t print is not that great.

But that wasn’t the point I was making about PDFs. I was talking about PDF attachments. A lot of people drag in PDFs, and yet 90% of them can’t be read on a dark background, because they are transparent. (We know, because we initially drew no background, and got a lot of complaints about it.)

If I prepare my documents, it should be MY responsibility to make sure the output works on whatever format I chose.

Yes, it is. You can put in any background you choose in your images.

And as already mentioned: for me right now there’s a point where I must think about how to proceed. My (usual) imagery works on both - black and white backgrounds. And I have no intention to modify those assets and create special ‘Agenda’ versions. For me that simply doesn’t make sense

Have you tried Deskset? It’s a great markdown tool for quickly making presentations. Seems like it would probably be better for your purpose.

I agree that for a tool like Deskset, it would not make much sense to draw a white background behind images. Indeed, in that case, the user should be in total control of the presentation.

But Agenda is not a presentation tool. Your notes in Agenda have to be readable regardless of whatever system setting you happen to be using that day. You should not be forced to always use dark mode just because you have setup certain images to only work in dark mode. To me that doesn’t make sense.

Ideally, we would just have a setting on each image as to whether to draw a background. That is probably something we need to add, and would give you the control you want, without jeopardising the other 90% who are not using the app for presentation purposes, but do need to have their PDFs and other transparent documents readable regardless of the system settings.

I think we’ll never agree, because our povs are different

That would be a note-printing app. I for one, haven’t printed a note in at least 5 years - if not longer…

If printing is important: simply just draw the white background when printing and leave the images (and their backgrounds) alone while showing on screen :wink:

Btw: Saving dark notes to PDF would even be a great option! :wink:

What does it help, if I put a transparent background in my images and then the background gets underlayed with a different color than my note?

Nope - I haven’t. Maybe I over-used the word ‘presentation’. With presentation I mean: present my ideas to fellow developers without the need to create a dedicated presentation…

Good point! My notes are NOT readable, because they are meant to be shown on and the images are NOT readable, when drawn on a white background.

Again: I don’t do presentation per se using Agenda, but - and I am pretty certain you do something similar: if you present your ideas to your collegues or fellow devs, you just want to connect your computer to a beamer or conference-tv to let everybody read your outlines/notes/whatever. - All of which I happen to write on dark backgrounds… (like we did years ago on KeyNote, PowerPoint, etc…)