There are a number of different kinds of computer tinkerers. Mac and PC. Tinker for fun. Tinker to fix. My preference is to tinker around on my Mac for fun, just to see cool new things that I might use.
Oh, and I prefer to tinker in such a way that it doesn’t cost me more money. Is there a Safe Not Sorry™ way to tinker on your Mac, make it do more, not break anything, and have no price tag?
Explore Your Mac Through TinkerTools
I come from a very large family; plenty of sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles. That means hand-me-down clothes, hand-me-down toys. Yes, along with plenty of girly toys, my family had Tinkertoys and Erector sets.
I’m proud to say that I’m a tinkerholic.
I’m not just about rearranging furniture, or collecting every kitchen utensil known to humankind, or checking out every last control on our Prius.
The tinker gene even extends to my Mac and TinkerTool lets me rearrange features, unlock hidden capability, and generally tinker until I’m tired. Here’s the deal. Apple has dozens of nifty, handy, hidden features and preferences that are turned off, so most Mac users don’t even know they exist.
Why? Apple’s engineers love secrets, I guess.
Tiger, Leopard, And Snowy, Oh My!
If your Mac has any of the last three Mac OS versions, TinkerTool has something you’ll like. Of course, there’s more trick in the tool bag for Snow Leopard users, so I’ll start there.
Some preferences are simple and don’t do much, but others are quite useful. For example, let the Mac’s Finder display the Unix path of whatever you’ve selected. Or, change the maximum number of label lines in the Finder’s icon view.
Check out the TinkerTool toolbar in the image above (click for a larger view). All the hidden features are grouped by category ranging from the Finder and Dock, to various Applications, to system wide options.
Change the Dock icons to display hidden applications, or simply disable the 3D look in the Dock. Put spring-loading in the Dock. Let the Dock show hidden files.
See how that works?
There are options for Safari, QuickTime movie player, the Dashboard, even iTunes.
iTunes? Sure. Wouldn’t it be nice to have Half Star Ratings in iTunes? Click. Done.
Annoyed when copying an email address in Mail (it includes the email address and the name)? Click to force it to drop the name. Annoyed with Time Machine keeps asking to bother any hard drive you plug into your Mac? Click. No more annoying messages.
Annoyed when the Help Viewer always stays on top of every window until you dismiss it? There’s a click for that. In fact, there’s more options that you’ll care about, but the effort is a simple toggle. Click to turn on, click to turn off.
TinkerTool is one of a dozen Mac utilities which unlock those hidden features and preferences. You’re not going to need every hidden preference or each secret tool. But you’re bound to find a dozen or so which make your Mac a little better. And TinkerTool is priced right, too (as in free).
PS – there’s really more than 27 features and preferences to change or unlock, but I lost count.