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OS X Mavericks: The Missing Manual by David Pogue

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Designing Your Desktop

In some ways, just buying a Macintosh was already a renegade act of self-expression. But that’s only the beginning. Now it’s time to fashion the computer screen itself according to your personal sense of design and fashion.

System Preferences

Cosmetically speaking, OS X offers two dramatic full-screen features: desktop backgrounds and screen savers. For details, see Chapter 9.

Graphic Designers’ Corner: The Gray Look

One of the earliest objections to the lively, brightly colored look of OS X came from Apple’s core constituency: artists and graphic designers. Some complained that OS X’s bright blues (of scroll-bar handles, progress bars, the menu, pulsing OK buttons, and highlighted menu names and commands), along with the red, green, and yellow window-corner buttons, threw off their color judgment.

Apple has been de-colorizing OS X ever since. The pulsing effects are subtler, the three-dimensional effects are less drastic, and the button colors are less intense. In Snow Leopard, both the menu and the Spotlight menu went from colorful to black, and in Lion, the Sidebar lost its color.

Tip

The Highlight Color pop-up menu lets you choose a different accent color for your Mac world. This is the background color of highlighted text, the colored oval that appears around highlighted icon names, and a window’s “lining” as you drag an icon into it.

But in case the color scheme still bothers artists, Apple created what it calls the Graphite look for OS X, which turns all those interface elements gray instead of blue. To try out this look, choose System Preferences; click General, and then choose Graphite from the Appearance pop-up menu.

Desktop Sounds

Desktop sounds are the tiny sound effects that accompany certain mouse drags. And we’re talking tiny—they’re so subdued that you might not have noticed them. You hear a little plink/crunch when you drop an icon onto the Trash, a boingy thud when you drag something into a folder, a whoof! when you drag something off the Dock and into oblivion, and so on. The little thud you hear at the end of a file-copying job is actually useful, because it alerts you that the task is complete.

If all that racket is keeping you awake, however, it’s easy enough to turn it off. Open System Preferences, click the Sound icon, and then turn off “Play user interface sound effects.”

And if you decide to leave them turned on, please—use discretion when working in a library, church, or neurosurgical operating room.

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