Disable Front Row menu items in 10.5

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When OS X’s media center app, Front Row, was first released, it sported an icon-based interface that was quite unique, if nothing else. Then the original Apple TV shipped, with a different—and obviously more thought-out—interface. So when Apple released OS X 10.5, it redesigned Front Row to sport Apple TV’s interface. (Ironically, of course, Apple TV now has a completely redesigned interface, once again leaving Front Row on its own.)

In the new Front Row interface, you choose your media from a series of menus—Movies, TV Shows, Music, and Photos. These menu items are actually just plug-ins, and can be easily disabled for things you may not use. In my case, I never listen to podcasts on my Mac (and only rarely on my iPod), so the Podcasts menu is never used. Here’s how to disable any Front Row plug-ins that you may not want to see in the menus.

In the Finder, navigate to System -> Library -> CoreServices. This is where the actual Front Row application lives; the version in the Applications folder is just a stub that launches the program you’ll find here. Select Front Row, then Control-click on it and pick Show Package Contents from the pop-up menu. In the new window that opens, navigate to Contents -> PlugIns. These .frappliance folders control which menu items you see in Front Row’s interface. If you’d like to remove a menu item from Front Row, first make a backup copy of that particular .frappliance folder, in case you want it back someday. (In my example, that’d be the Podcasts.frappliance folder.) The easiest way to do this is to just drag the folder in question to your Desktop. As you don’t have rights to change the CoreServices folder, the system will simply copy (not move) the chosen folder. Then highlight the folder to be deleted, press Command-Delete, and enter your password when prompted. Feel free to do this with any of the folders you’d like to disable, though I strongly discourage you from disabling the FRSettings and FRSources folders—without these, it will be impossible to configure Front Row.

To make your changes take effect, you need to restart Front Row, which is an always-running background application. You can do this in Terminal, but it’s just as easy to do using Activity Monitor (in Applications -> Utilities). In the list of processes, find Front Row, select it by clicking on it once, then click the Quit Process button in the toolbar.

When you relaunch Front Row, its menus will reflect only those folders you left in place—for me, no more useless scrolling past the Podcasts menu item. If you ever want your disabled menu items back, simply move the backup folder back into the PlugIns folder. You’ll be asked to authenticate, so supply your password when prompted. After putting the folder back, run Disk Utility and use its Repair Permissions feature to set the correct ownership and privileges of the replaced folder.

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