Speed up Mac OS X for Free

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One of the reasons why I fell in love with the PC back in the day, was because I could tweak it. I loved playing with configuration. I love to mess around and discover speed tweaks that are turned off by default. I was talking with Jeff the other day, and he mentioned that he would be using Safari on his Mac, if only he could enable a single window mode (which is NOT a visible configuration option). I am completely with him there. The only reason I don’t use Firefox as my default browser is due to a GUI that just isn’t “there” yet for me, as well as a few speed issues.

So as I’m talking to Jeff, I mentioned Secrets, which is a database of hidden settings for Mac OS X. When installed, it will scan your system and look at everything you use. It will then recommend what you need to enable in order to make your experience a better one. Think of it as a “TweakUI” that continues to grow as more of these tweaks are added to the central database. All these different things are pulled in from across the Internet and added on a regular basis.

That’s the great thing about OS X. You can tweak certain things. All the tweaks that are surfaced inside the Secrets preference pane are usually only able to be toggled on the command line. This application surfaces them all into a GUI. It’s free, and it’s easy. This is definitely one of the best freeware apps for Mac OS X I’ve come across. Here are just a few of the tweaks you can apply:

  • Grab File type for screen captures
  • Every App Scroll bar type
  • Safari Use circular progress indicator
  • Dock Dock Appearance, minimize effect and pinning
  • Xcode Organization name
  • Safari Enable debug menu
  • Dashboardlauncher Drag widgets out of dashboard
  • Finder Show stripes in list views
  • GlobalPreferences Login window desktop picture
  • Finder Show hidden files
  • iTunes Arrows link to library instead of store
  • Terminal Make focus follow mouse
  • Frontrowlauncher Enable high definition movie trailers
  • Safari Show Link URL in Tool Tip

As always, do your homework. Make sure you know what it is you’re toggling, and that you make a good backup prior to making any changes.

What other tweaks and tips do you have? If they’re really good ones, I’ll definitely pass them along to the rest of the world.

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