Mac users and Windows users tinker with their computers. Mac users tinker to make it better. Windows users tinker just to get it running.
What’s the latest tinker tool to tinker around on your Mac and unlock some cool secrets? The free Tinker Tool.
Alright, just to be fair, Tinker Tool isn’t all that new. It’s been around a few years. But so have babies and everyone ooohs and aaahs over a new baby.
And to be even more fair, not all Windows users have to tinker to get their PCs to run. Some have to tinker just to keep the PC running.
So, to be even more fair than that, tinker isn’t really what we do when we tinker anyway. “Tinker,” as my husband pointed out, is best left to men, but usually means “to fiddle with, play with various configurations of something, randomly and perhaps destructively.” Uh. Those verbs can be nasty.
Apparently I’m not getting any respect as a Mac tinkerer from Webster, Wikipedia, or anyone else. Even the dictionary is giving me grief about tinkering, as in “an act of attempting to repair something.” That means it should be broken before I tinker? What’s with that? My Mac is hardly ever broken, yet I tinker.
Marcel Bresnik’s popular Mac utility is called Tinker Tool. It gives you access to a bunch of preferences in Mac OS X that Apple hid from us, obviously fearful of our tinkering around under the hood.
You see, tinker also carries a warning within the meaning: “tinker—attempt to repair or improve something in a casual or desultory way, often to no useful effect.” Whew. That describes what I do with my Mac.
All the dangerous implications aside, what can Tinker Tool do for you besides blow up your Mac? Well, according to Marcel (and my own investigative journalistic efforts—but on my husband’s Mac first) Tinker Tool can’t even do that. Mostly.
Tinker Tool doesn’t dink with the operating system, doesn’t mess with anything except the current user, and doesn’t even require administrator privileges to work. Whatever you dink when you tinker can be reset to Apple’s OS X defaults.
So, what good is Tinker Tool? Besides being free, there are four things I truly enjoy using out of a list of over 40. Only 4 out 40? I would have used more except some of them I don’t need, don’t like, don’t want, and don’t even understand.
#1 on my list is Show Hidden and System Files. You can’t do that in the basic Finder. Tinker Tool lets you do that. It’s benign and won’t harm anything. Unless you continue to dink around and destroy a hidden file which OS X needs, and then you’re hosed. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
#2 on my list Enable Dark Labels of desktop icons. I have a very light photograph of my daughter for my Mac’s background on the desktop. It’s light enough that you can’t see the text on the desktop icons. Now I can. Tinker away.
#3 on my list is Place Both Scroll Arrow Buttons at both ends of the bar in a window. You gotta do this. Unless, of course, you mess up your Mac. Then I’m not responsible.
#4 on my list is Set The File Format For Desktop Screenshots. No conversion necessary. Just choose what you want and it stays that way. Until you need something different, then you have to convert.
Since Tinker Tool is free for you to tinker around on your Mac, here’s my list of Honorable Mention items.
#5 on my list is Automatically Activate Terminal Windows by pointing at them with the mouse cursor. OK, you got me. That’s not really mine. It’s my husband’s and he likes it so I’m making him feel good by including it as an Honorable Mention item. Men!
#6 on my list is Disable The Database of Web-Site Icons in Safari. When you do, Safari runs faster, especially if you’re loaded down with a few thousand too many bookmarks.
Tinker Tool is pretty slick and there’s plenty more options where those came from. Your mileage may vary. If your Mac catches on fire, then I will disavow all knowledge of Tinker Tool.
Got a favorite Mac utility that does cool things like make your Mac run better, or helps to end hunger and promotes world peace? Share your secret in the Comments section below.