The Mac is a personal computer, right? Mac OS X Leopard unifies the Mac’s look and feel on screen, but what can you do to pimp up and trick out Leopard?
Does Apple make it easy to customize the most personal of personal computers? In a word, no. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make your Mac look the way you want.
If there’s one subtle change that I truly like about Leopard vs. Tiger, it’s the unified windows. Gone are the brushed aluminum windows, replaced almost all over with Apple’s new unified platinum plastic look.
Except for the Menu Bar, which, on some Macs with the right graphics cards, has a Gawd-awful translucent look. I’m convinced that Apple doesn’t want Mac users to muck around and customize OS X Leopard.
Apple gives Mac users a few customize crumbs here and there. There’s the desktop pictures; wallpaper to Windows switchers. Not only does Apple give us plenty of desktop options, we can even customize the desktop with our own photos from iPhoto.
See? That’s customization, Apple style. Forget the fact that most of the desktop is covered with windows from various applications and utilities.
What else? How about those great screen savers. Apple gives us a few, each with a couple of options that Mac users can select.
Some Mac developers have created a few screen savers that go beyond the offerings in Leopard. Again, it’s user customization, Apple style.
How about that Dock? Apple provides a handful of options for Dock customization. Left. Right. 2D. Bottom. 3D. Magnify or not. See? Not many options from Apple for customizing anything on Leopard. Apple may be the most anal retentive, obsessive compulsive, control freak computer maker on the planet.
When they’re right, they’re really right. But, when Apple is wrong…
In System Preferences there’s the Appearance Pane. Not much going on there for those of us who desire a more than stock, out-of-the-box Mac. Blue or Graphite. Change the highlight color.
Expose and Spaces provides for a measure of Mac customization, though always within parameters provided by Godfather Steve and the design geniuses at Apple. We’re allowed to choose which hot corner we use to invoke Expose or Spaces. There’s additional options on the Mighty Mouse.
But you see what’s happening? We’re given Options, which we use to Customize our Macs. Options are not really customizations, are they?
For the sake of argument, lets take a look at the areas where we truly are allowed by Apple’s design overlords to customize our Macs. Desktops. What else? Not much.
Mac users and developers to the rescue. No Mac that’s truly pimped up and tricked out would be complete without some modification to the Dock that goes beyond what Apple provides. Enter Leopard Docks, the little site that could.
With some work, Mac uses can modify the Dock over 100 ways. Make the Dock uglier than it is, or add a Dock theme that suits your taste. Drag and save and drag and drop and drop down and pray you don’t screw up the Dock forever.
Leopard Dock carries an assortment of Dock designs in a variety of styles and themes, at least one of which will be better than the one Apple gave us.
Leopard Dock won’t fix the issues with Fan or Grid or lack of hierarchical menus in the Documents section of the Dock, but it’s a start toward true customization, Mac user style.
Some Dock customizations are quite innovative, including those from Optica Optima. Brush up on your Japanese. Still, regarding customizations, someone is thinking outside the box. The bento box.
Leopard brings Mac users plenty of new and candy coated features to get used to. But when it comes right down to it, the Mac doesn’t offer much for true personalization, the customizing that makes the Mac truly personal. Not yet, anyway. If necessity is the mother of invention, expect Mac users to come up with more ways to pimp up and trick out the Mac.
Got a beef with the lack of customization capability in Leopard and Tiger? Got another cool way to make a Mac even more personal, truly customized? Talk Back to Mac360 readers in the Comments section below.