Tiger's first tweaks

Tiger’s been out less than a week, and there are already a number of interesting utilities to customize it—in subtle ways—to your preferences; here’s a rundown of some of the first. (Note that some of these products are still in development, so the usual “use at your own risk” caveats apply; that being said, I’ve tried all of these utilities on my own system without incident.)

Cage Fighter 1.1 (free). I actually like the new look of Mail in Tiger, even though it’s quite inconsistent with the interface found in the rest of Mac OS X’s applications. But judging from the reaction around the ’net, I may be in the minority. It seems more than a few people are unhappy with the new design, especially the toolbar buttons, which really don’t match any other Mac OS X toolbar buttons, “brushed metal” or Aqua. If you’re not a fan of the new button style, Cage Fighter will replace them with “borderless” buttons similar to those used by Panther’s Mail—you’ll still be stuck with the rest of Mail’s new look, but at least the toolbar will be a bit more subtle. Or, if you want to revert even further, Cage Fighter can replace Mail’s button icons and title bar with their actual Panther equivalents. You can also change the mailbox highlight from pale gray-blue to the bright blue used by most other Mac OS X apps.

Mail before Cage Fighter
Tiger’s Mail, untouched

Mail after Cage Fighter
Tiger’s Mail with “borderless” buttons

Mail after Cage Fighter with Panther icons and title bar
Tiger’s Mail with Panther buttons and title bar

Safari Buttons 0.4 (free). One of the most popular features of Safari and other modern browsers is tabbed browsing. As a result, one of the most requested Safari features has long been a “new tab” button in the Safari toolbar. Now that Safari 2.0 (included with Tiger) allows you to customize the toolbar like many other Mac OS X applications, many people held out hope that a “new tab” button would be one of the options. Alas, no. But you can get such a button using Safari Buttons, which replaces Safari’s Report Bug toolbar option with a New Tab button. (You lose the Report Bug button, but now many people actually used it?) As a bonus, Safari Buttons also lets you enable and disable image-less browsing (which disables images for faster page loading) by pressing Command+Y, then Command+R.

Safari with Tab button
Safari with a New Tab button added

Amnesty 0.5b (free beta; final version price to be determined). Much has been made about Tiger’s Dashboard feature as compared to Konfabulator —there’s no sense revisiting those debates here. However, one difference between the two is that Dashboard works only as an “overlay”—you can view Dashboard Widgets only when the Dashboard layer is activated—whereas Konfabulator Widgets are, by default, visible on your screen even when you’re working in other applications. In the Macworld forums alone I’ve seen a number of requests for similar functionality from Dashboard, and Amnesty offers it: When launched, a new Amnesty menu appears in the menu bar, listing all available Dashboard Widgets. Choosing one from the menu opens it on your screen without the need to invoke Dashboard; it remains onscreen until you choose to close it. For each Amnesty-induced Widget, you can decide whether it floats above all applications, acts as a standard application window, or becomes part of your Desktop; you can also customize the Widget’s opacity. Amnesty is in early beta, so it’s still very rough—for example, the developer has a list (available from the Amnesty menu) of known issues that you should read before you start activating Widgets willy-nilly.

Calculator Widget via Amnesty
The Calculator Widget as a standard application window

Dasher 1.0.1 (free). To be honest, the idea of a Dashboard screen saver never crossed my mind. But it evidently crossed someone’s, because that’s exactly what Dasher provides. With Dasher installed, after a period of inactivity—set by you in the Dasher preference pane—Dashboard is automatically activated. Move or click the mouse, or press a key, and it disappears, just as it would if you’d activated it manually. Dasher even cooperates with Mac OS X’s screensaver—if you’ve enabled the latter, it will take precedence over Dasher’s Dashboard activation.

Dasher preferences

These are just a few of the first Tiger “enhancements” I’ve seen, but I expect these types of products to come fast and heavy in the weeks and months ahead. Stay tuned for periodic overviews of new Tiger tweaks. And let us know of any new ones you’ve found by posting a comment in the Macworld forums via the link below.

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