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

Really trick out your Dock

So far, I've talked a lot about customizing the Dock to make it look and act more as it did in earlier Mac OS X versions. But that isn't your only option. If you like the idea of a 3-D Dock but not the glass-shelf look, check out the options at LeopardDocks.com and Dockulicious. Both of these sites maintain dozens (if not hundreds) of alternate Docks that you can download and easily install with tools available from either site.

Instead of the glass shelf, you can have an iPhone-inspired Dock, a Dock that looks like a patch of lawn, one that looks like the icons are sitting atop a wood-paneled coffee table or even a Dock that looks like a tattered old pirate map. There are endless options ranging from stylish to whimsical to downright weird.

If you're not into themed Docks, you can also use DockColor to simply change the color of the standard 3-D Dock.

Make Stacks look and act consistently

In the Leopard 10.5.2 update, Apple responded to criticism about Stacks by making the feature optional. Users can now choose to display a folder placed in the Dock as a hierarchical pop-up menu of the folder's contents (as previous Mac OS X versions had done) rather than as a stack.

While this choice is an improvement, the update didn't address the major problem with Stacks: the changeability of their icons in the Dock. By default, the icon displayed in the Dock for a Stack shows tiny icons for the first few items (documents, image files, applications, folders, etc.) contained within the folder, stacked three-dimensionally, one in front of the other. The icons included in a Stack's representation in the Dock are arranged in alphabetical order of the items inside the folder.

Apple's intention here seems to be that a Stack icon will always reflect the contents of the folder that it represents. Unfortunately, this means that every time you add a new item to a folder represented by a Stack, the Stack's icon in the Dock may change. As a result, there is no real consistency for folders whose contents change often.

Even when folders don't have constantly changing contents, it can be difficult to tell which Stack is which without mousing over them to see their names highlighted. For example, two of the Stacks in the screenshot above look identical simply because they both contain folders and Word documents, and both happen to have folders within them whose filenames are alphabetically listed before any other items.

Although it doesn't change the overall behavior of Stacks, Stacks in Da Place is a great donationware tool for solving the problem of making each Stack look consistent regardless of its contents. It lets you select a single icon that will be perpetually displayed as the front icon in a Stack so you'll always know which Stack is which.

A great companion to Stacks in Da Place is one of several series of drawer-style icons for Stacks by Yasushi Chida (note that the majority of text on this site is in Japanese) that make your Stacks look like filing cabinet drawers or bins containing the icons of the items in the folder being displayed.

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?