Chapter 17. Hacking Mac OS X

Chapter 8 shows you how to customize your desktop picture, error beep, and screen saver. But beyond those simple modifications, Mac OS X offers only a subset of the tweakable features found in other operating systems. You can’t record sounds, change the fonts used in the Finder, adjust the colors of your scroll bars, and so on.

If you’re sneaky, creative, or just different, however, you can indeed perform more dramatic visual and behavioral surgery on your copy of Mac OS X—from changing the startup screen image to replacing the “poof " that appears when you drag something off the Dock with a new animation of your own. All you need is a few of Mac OS X’s less obvious tools, or some free downloadable customizing software, and a few recipes like the ones in this chapter.

Some of these tricks are frivolous. Some are actually functional and useful. And although Apple sanctions not a one, all are perfectly safe.


History has shown that Apple considers Mac OS X a work in progress. A huge number of the fun little hacks that worked in Mac OS X 10.1 stopped working in 10.2. All of the tricks in this chapter work in 10.3, but may well “break” in subsequent versions of Mac OS X. The Errata page for this book at will keep you up to date.

TinkerTool: Customization 101

If you poke around the Mac OS X Web sites and newsgroups long enough, you’ll find little bits of Unix code being passed around. One of them purports to let you change the ...

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