Leopard tamers: 9 terrific interface tweaks

With a host of new tools and add-ons available, changing the look and feel of Mac OS X 'Leopard' is easy

When Apple shipped Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" in October, Macintosh users were divided about some of the interface changes Apple had made from prior Mac OS X releases. Chief among these love 'em or hate 'em changes were the newly translucent menu bar and the 3-D, shelf-like Dock, as well as the new Stacks feature, which, when you mouse over a folder in the Dock, displays the folder's contents as a column of icons or a rectangular grid.

It didn't take long for power users and shareware developers to find ways to tweak the new user interface. At first, modifying Leopard required a level of comfort and experience using the Mac OS X command line and/or modifying system files. Over the past six months, however, the options for tweaking Leopard have become more sophisticated and easier to manage.

Today, most changes can be done easily by any Mac user without trepidation. Here, we'll highlight ways to make Leopard more Tiger-like, customize its look and feel to reflect your personality, and show you how to improve certain Leopard features.

Get back the look of Tiger

Apple's response to complaints about the translucent menu bar came with February's 10.5.2 update, which allows you to turn off the translucent look. If you preferred the look of the menu bar in Tiger, just uncheck the Translucent Menu Bar option in the Desktop & Screensaver preference pane.

You can go even further with a free tool from MD Softworks called LeoColorBar, which performs a handful of tweaking functions, including restoring the familiar rounded edges to the menu bar -- another subtle change in Leopard. It also lets you choose a color besides Apple's familiar brushed-metal gray for the menu bar, a nifty tweak in its own right.

The Leopard 10.5.2 update did not address complaints about the 3-D look of the Dock when it is positioned at the bottom of the screen. (When placed on the right or left of the screen, Leopard's Dock reverts to a 2-D style.)

LeoColorBar comes in handy here as well -- it can restore a 2-D look to the 3-D Dock. For those who like the Tiger look, this tool is a must.

Replace the glowing Dock indicators

While LeoColorBar can give you a 2-D Dock, it doesn't change the indicators for running applications. In Leopard, these indicators were changed from simple black triangles to glowing dots.

If you want to get the triangles back, a free tool called Dock Delight allows you to do so with just a couple of clicks. Again, it's a great tool for anyone who preferred the pre-Leopard Dock.

If you don't want the glowing dots but weren't crazy about the triangles either, you can customize your Dock with an indicator icon of your choice by replacing the default images the Leopard uses to create the indicators. Though not difficult to accomplish, this does require some minor changes to the Leopard system files, as detailed at the Silver Mac blog. You can even download a handful of free prepackaged alternate indicators to use.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Ryan Faas

Ryan Faas

Computerworld
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?