Gems Grab Bag for October 2, 2007

Today is one of those days where I cover, briefly, a few interesting programs that do simple things (or do complicated things simply). Today’s offerings include utilities for making your cursor vanish, customizing your folders, and keeping an eye on song lyrics.

Cursorcerer

Have you ever wanted to make your cursor disappear? For example, when watching a full-screen video using a third-party application such as VLC. Or when using Mac OS X’s built-in zoom feature (Control-scroll, by default) to zoom in on an onscreen element such as a video in a Web browser. Doomlaser’s Cursorcerer 1.0 (   ; free) is a simple System Preferences pane that lets you hide the cursor via a keystroke or after a certain amount of time that you define. By default, the cursor appears again if you move it, but you can disable that option so that it appears only if you press the keystroke again. (Set the Hide Idle Cursor After setting to one second and the cursor will appear only when it’s moving.)

Cursorcerer

Cursorcerer works well, although I encountered a minor hassle when setting its keyboard shortcut: I had to use the None option—to remove the current shortcut—before I could set a new one. And I occasionally found that after setting the Hide Idle Cursor After setting to one second, I had to quit Cursorcerer and restart it or the cursor would still disappear immediately in certain applications.

Cursorcerer 1.0 requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later and is a Universal binary.

Folder Brander

Mac OS X provides a number of useful features for quickly accessing frequently-used folders; for example, Finder-window sidebars and the Dock. However, if you’ve got several folders in the Dock, they all look the same; there’s no way to figure out which is which without moving your mouse cursor over each (which displays each folder’s name). The same goes if you’ve collapsed the Finder’s sidebars down to icon-only view.

FolderBrander

standard Dock folders customized Dock folders

You can customize the look of a folder by copying an image in a graphics application, selecting the folder in the Finder, choosing File: Get Info, clicking on the generic-folder icon in the Get Info window, and then pasting the copied image. But that’s a bit of a hassle, and you need to find—or create—the right graphic to begin with. A handy alternative is Yellow Mug Software’s FolderBrander 2.2 (   ; $10).

Just drag a folder onto the FolderBrander icon, or into its window, and you can apply a custom folder icon, as well as a text label. Several sets of folder icons are included, and you can add your own that you create or download from the Internet. You can customize the text label’s font, color, transparency, size, geometry, location, and spacing.

The result—as you can see from the before-and-after image to the right—is an icon that’s easily differentiated from the one next to it.

FolderBrander 2.2 requires OS X 10.3 or later and is a Universal binary.

DesktopLyrics

If you make use of iTunes’ lyrics feature to store the words to songs in your music library, you know that iTunes doesn’t make it easy to view those words—you have to open the Get Info window for a track and then switch to the Lyrics screen. A fun alternative for the lyrics-addicted is Julian Mayer’s DesktopLyrics 1.0 (   ; free), which displays the words to the currently-playing iTunes track on your Desktop.

DesktopLyrics

The DesktopLyrics “window” really does sit on your Desktop, so other windows, and even folders and files, float over the top. This means DesktopLyrics works best on a second display or when you’re not otherwise working on your main display. Still, DesktopLyrics integrates well with the Desktop; for example, instead of using a solid background behind the lyrics, you can set the window background to fully transparent, which make the lyrics appear as if they’re actually drawn on the Desktop. Other options include font name, color, and maximum size; text shadows; and precise onscreen positioning. DesktopLyrics can automatically hide lyrics when iTunes is paused or not running, and it can display basic song information when a track is missing lyrics.

One feature that’s a mixed blessing: DesktopLyrics resizes its display so that each track’s lyrics fit on the screen without scrolling; this works great for most songs, but if a song has long lyrics, the text can become so small that it’s almost unreadable.

DesktopLyrics 1.0 requires Mac OS X 10.3 or later and iTunes 4.7 or later; it is a Universal binary.

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