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  1. #1


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    How can OS X be customised?
    Hello guys,

    I'm writing an assignment that compares Mac with PC, to the conclusion that both have become two very different systems. It's not an arguement in favour of one over the other, it's instead just an analysis of how they do things differently.

    I'm a PC user, and am currently writing about customisability. With Windows, you can change font sizes, re-order your start menu, apply sounds to things like maximising applications, and so on.

    I'm stuck on writing the part about Mac's customisability features. I remember you can add colours to files/folder labels, and that's about it (purely because I haven't used a Mac in a few years).

    If anyone could suggest some other points that would be great. Remember this isn't Windows VS OS X by any means, and is just a comparison.

    Many thanks.

  2. #2

    PowerBookG4's Avatar
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    You can reorder the dock, make it auto hide, magnification etc. You can choose for it to be clear or colored, reflective or not reflective, etc. There are hundreds of programs (menumeters, weather snitch, etc.) that put things in the menu bar to keep the user informed. You can have different programs for different spaces so that the user is always organized. Some stupid things include whether or not the close zoom and minimize buttons are colored for grey, what the order of the menu bar is in, and the clock is analog or digital, those kinds of things.

    Like windows you can assign sounds to certain events.

    You are correct when you say you can add colors to the labels finder items. You can choose red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, or grey.

    You can also change the icon size on the desktop which is pretty awesome, I hated having small icons. I love huge ones. Not because I can't see, because I can, just how the larger icon looks on the desktop is something I really like.

    You can also change the way your want to view your stacks (grid, fan, list), and if you want to get creative with terminal, date modification, and some icons you find on the internet, you can even create some cool drawer like icons on them.

    With programs like Onyx (all os 10) and shapeshifter (pre 10.5 for now) you can change a lot more. Onyx gives you control of special features of the OS that you would have needed terminal to change, and shape shifter allows you to change your theme.

    Programs like candybar allow you to change your system icons. So if you change lets say how you want your foler icons to appear they will change system wide, not just that particular folder. With out candy bar you can change any icon you want, easily right in finder, your hard drive, folders, applications, disk images, etc. These icons can be found on interfacelift.com where you can also find modifications for windows which might be helpful for your paper.

    If you have any other questions let us know. good luck comparing the two.
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  3. #3

    Lifeisabeach's Avatar
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    I'm using an app called FruitMenu (only recently released for 10.5) to customize the "Apple" menu to my liking. I have a cascading folder of my Apps and System Preferences; display of my IP address; Shut Down/Restart/Log Out options that are immediate (no "are you sure" dialog boxes); and more. It can be just as full-featured like the Start Menu is in Windows.

    And speaking of the Apps folder... did you know you can rearrange your Apps into subfolders? No need to reinstall anything... just move them and OS X keeps track of where they went! I categorize all my apps, making things more organized. Also makes it easier to navigate my FruitMenu item.

    Virtually any UI item in any app can be modified. Don't like the Home icon for, say, Firefox? Well just find the app, right-click to "Show Package Contents", find the actual icon you want to replace, and do it! The same goes for any number of items. You can actually replace the wallpaper the system uses for the background of the log-in screen; replace the icon used for menu extras like the Display; and much more. You just have to know where to look.

    One other neat trick I use is to customize my date/time display on the menu bar. Without using any 3rd-party software, I have the full date/time displayed, not just the time and day of week. And this is such a simple trick... it merely involves copying/pasting data from one panel to another in the System Preferences.

  4. #4


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    You can also disable the Aqua UI completely, and boot into Gnome or KDE or any of the usual open-source x11 window managers.

    Not that most people would, but you could.

  5. #5

    Derek McNelly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by technologist View Post
    You can also disable the Aqua UI completely, and boot into Gnome or KDE or any of the usual open-source x11 window managers.

    Not that most people would, but you could.
    O_O

    I could seriously boot into KDE?

    You're, you're kidding me, right?
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  6. #6


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    Quote Originally Posted by Derek McNelly View Post
    O_O

    I could seriously boot into KDE?

    You're, you're kidding me, right?
    Certainly you could. It would behave just like any other BSD-like Unix.

    It would also be of very little practical use. You'd lose the ability to run OS X applications like Photoshop or iTunes. You'd essentially have a poorly supported BSD system.

  7. #7


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    Thanks! Plenty of points for me to work with, most appreciated

  8. #8


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    Another question if I may, guys?

    I was on an iMac at university today and was mucking around in the Finder. With Windows Start > Run, you can potentially delete Windows if you wanted to.

    It seems like Mac has its OS more secured from user access, although, it may have been the university computer disabling me from accessing "important" stuff... but, is it possible to really mess around with data in the depths of the Mac?

    Thanks!

  9. #9

    jdgti's Avatar
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    Yes you can mess around with the Mac OS, but you would need to be the root user for most OS sweeping changes, and I would also recommend that you be very knowledgeable to do something like this, just like I would recommend you be the same if you were doing it in windows.

    But if you are the administrator on the computer then you can do a lot of deleting of files that might potentially harm your computer, but most people don't really know what will and won't harm/change it, so they stay away from these files. most of this stuff can be found in "/System/" or "/Library/" within the highest directory on the hard drive.

  10. #10

    Alexis's Avatar
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    Bear in mind OS X is purposefully not as customisable as Windows out of the box. It has it's own very Apple-esque look and like a company brand, consistency is all.

    Microsoft has a very weak brand in comparison - you only have to visit the website to see.

  11. #11

    Aptmunich's Avatar
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    This comparison wiki might come in handy:

    http://www.macvswindows.com/index.ph..._Customization

  12. #12

    rogerinlondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lifeisabeach View Post
    And speaking of the Apps folder... did you know you can rearrange your Apps into subfolders? No need to reinstall anything... just move them and OS X keeps track of where they went! I categorize all my apps, making things more organized.
    Is this for 10.5 only or does it work in 10.4.x as well?

  13. #13

    Lifeisabeach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rogerinlondon View Post
    Is this for 10.5 only or does it work in 10.4.x as well?
    Yes. 10.5, 10.4, 10.3...

  14. #14


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    Quote Originally Posted by Alexis View Post
    Bear in mind OS X is purposefully not as customisable as Windows out of the box. It has it's own very Apple-esque look and like a company brand, consistency is all.
    Would you mind expanding that point? Why isn't OS X as customisable out of the box? are you saying, it becomes more customisable when you introduce 3rd party applications?

    If so - i'm comparing XP to OS X as they are "out the box", with no additional downloads etc.


    Thanks for the Wiki GUI comparison, it was an interesting read.

    And thanks to everyone else for being so helpful to me for this paper.

  15. #15

    Lifeisabeach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by christoffah View Post
    Would you mind expanding that point? Why isn't OS X as customisable out of the box? are you saying, it becomes more customisable when you introduce 3rd party applications?

    If so - i'm comparing XP to OS X as they are "out the box", with no additional downloads etc.
    That's probably true to an extent. Apple doesn't provide "GUI" tools to make a number of changes to the OS that otherwise can be done. Let's take the Dock, for example. Nowhere in the Dock's menu or elsewhere in the OS can you find an option to anchor the Dock to a corner. Normally you can only have it "in the middle" on one of the four sides. Many people use a 3rd-party utility like TinkerTool to make the Dock anchor to the corner, myself because I like having the Trash can in one spot. But all TinkerTool does is modify the Dock's preference file to tell it to anchor in the corner. You "can" do that yourself using TextEdit... just find the right pref file, find the right string, and make the appropriate change. There are a great many things that can be done that way, but using 3rd-party utilities that do it for you is far simpler. The OS is riddled with undocumented features/options that are accessible if you know what yer doing. The little trick I mentioned earlier to put the full date in the menu bar is another example of this.

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