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

Select "Other" in the search criteria pop-up menu to choose from a treasure trove of additional possibilities, including:

  • The file label assigned to items in the Finder

  • The album or artist information assigned in iTunes

  • Support for specific foreign languages in items

  • The number of pages in a document

  • All manner of information included by digital cameras, such as camera model or whether a flash was used

To build a search that relies on multiple criteria (all image files that were created in the last month, for example), hold down the Option key as you're making your selections.

To save a search for later use, click the Save button in the upper-left of the search window and in the Save dialog, choose to add it to the sidebar.

If you want access to more searches in the sidebar, but don't want to expend the time and effort to create them yourself, you're in luck. Apple ships a number of prepackaged Spotlight searches with Leopard that don't appear in the sidebar by default; these can be added to the sidebar in a few easy steps.

Change the log-in window

Leopard's starscape backdrop for the log-in window is pretty spectacular, but how about using a picture of the family dog or a favorite vacation memory? Visage (US$9.95 from Sanity Software) makes it easy to change not just the background behind the log-in window, but also to customize the window itself.

For example, you can insert a customized message for you or your family -- or in a business or education environment, an acceptable-use policy or new user instructions. Another option: Replace the Apple and Mac OS X icons with pictures of your own.

Visage, which you can try for free for seven days, has some other cool features. You can set a screensaver as a "desktop effect" that displays continually in the background while you're working, instead of a static desktop picture (really great with some of Leopard's new screensaver options).

Visage also lets you customize the text of a number of system alerts. You can add your name or favorite phrase, which is a lot of fun if combined with Leopard's text-to-speech function: Have your Mac read alerts to you when they're displayed.

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Ryan Faas

Ryan Faas

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