Just like previous Mac OS X versions, Mac OS X Lion doesn’t allow users to modify native utilities’ behaviors, tweak with system settings, and make changes to its UI elements. For this reason, many power Mac users opt in for third-party system tweaking applications,, such as Lion Tweaks, OnyX, Deeper, Lion Designer, Lion Secrets, to customize their Mac. If you’re looking for an application that lets you easily access advance system preferences to change OS user interface elements, tweak desktop environment, edit advance Finder settings, view and configure hidden Safari features etc., then TinkerTool is worth a shot. The application is primarily developed to let users easily access the hidden advance system preferences built into Mac OS X Lion. While It comes packed with a sheer number of system tweaking features, you don’t need to gain administrative privileges to change system core settings. The application doesn’t make any system-wide level modifications, and therefore, the changes you make to Mac OS X via this application will not change anything for other user accounts. Details to follow after the jump.
TinkerTool attempts to reveal almost all the hidden features of Mac OS X UI and its utilities’ features. Using the tool, you can turn off any annoying feature of system utilities, like Dock, iTunes, FInder, etc.,, and calibrate general UI settings, such as Font, scroll arrows placement and more.Perhaps, the most distinguishing feature is its ability to tweak system settings without requiring users to log in to the Mac as administrator. When you toggle a hidden feature on/off, it makes changes to only the current account without modifying system wide settings.
Like aforementioned tools, Deeper and OnyX, the main interface shows system tweaks in the form of toggles. All the available tweaking options are categorized into tabs, including Dock, Finder , iTunes, Safari, Font Smoothing, Resume, QuickTime X. These categories provide an easy way for navigating to system utilities, which you want to customize.
The main window includes Finder-related tweaks, including Finder Options, Animation effects, Network access, Quick Look, Restricted Finder ( to enable/disable Finder features and menu items). In order to tweak Mac OS X Lion Finder, you first need to enable the tweak option, and then restart Finder. After you’ve enabled the required Finder feature, just hit Relaunch Finder button present in bottom right corner to close all instances of Finder and a start a new one.
Under Dock, you will find a wide range of dock-related tweaking options and hidden settings. It enables you to use transparent icons for all hidden apps, disable 3D glass effect and animations, restrict changing dock size manually and modifying its content. There are numerous Stacks-specific options available, which let you enable large, grid-style for list view, use scroll wheel / gesture to access content, highlight selection in grid view etc.
The General window includes tweaks for default Mac OS X functions and behaviors. You can choose to select screenshot output format, and forcibly include app window shadow. Moreover, it enables you to change the default output location (Desktop) to any custom, local location. Here, you can also set Window animation and resizing options, change number of entries in recent menu, configure delay for text dragging in Cocoa apps and delay before displaying help tags.
The Desktop related tweaks include displaying Unix path over desktop wallpaper, disable keeping help window in foreground, and changing post application crash behavior. You can also add eject button for optical discs in menu bar. After adding this button, click Update menu bar to close the menu bar instance and re-launch it.
The Applications tab includes tweaks for various Mac OS X default apps, including Address Book, Terminal, Disk Images, Spotlight, Mail, Mission Control, Quick Look etc. All the available tweaking options are organized into application section. If you, for instance, want to tweak Mail app, just enable the options from Mail section. The changes you make to apps are applied in real time. For example, if you enable Don’t display content of attachments inline option, it immediately stops displaying the content. However, you might need to restart Terminal, Mission Control, and Time Machine to apply the related tweaks.
The Font and Font Smoothing windows deal with system font settings and tweaks. From Fonts, you can change system default fonts for different categories such as System headlines, Application, Fixed-pit5ch, Messages, Labels, Help tags, Window title bar etc. The Font section changes only the system fonts, including those which are designated for applications, but if an application comes with its own font set, then you may need to disable the font settings for the application, to apply the defined system font and settings. Under Font Smoothing tab, you can disable font smoothing for specified font size, and choose the default font smoothing style.
Under Login Items window, you can manage all the applications that start up at Mac OS X login. It lets you create a list of items that you want to deactivate at system login. Although Mac OS X natively supports disabling application launch at login, sometimes applications manage to skip the defined startup settings and launch themselves at startup. The auto-launch behavior of such applications can be easily managed from Login Items window. All you need is to add the login item (app or script) to list to prevent it from starting at startup. Moreover, you can hide the application at startup, rearrange login items order, and temporarily disable any login item.
The Safari and iTunes tabs let you enable hidden Safari feature, specify number of history items to show, disable warning message when closing unsubmitted form, and change iTunes View setting and enable playback while importing or converting media files, respectively. Similarly, you can change numerous Quick Time settings from QuickTime X tab including appearance, on launch behavior, and reveal some hidden features, such as allow multiple concurrent recordings, maintain full screen mode while switching to other apps.
The Mac OS X Lion Resume feature can be enabled/disabled for almost any application from Resume window. It lets you change the application resume behavior with a click. Just find the application whose Resume feature needs to be disabled, and select No from Restore windows? column.
TinkerTool not only lets you revert to pre-TinkerTool state, but also reset all system and application settings to defaults. Clicking Reset to Pre-TinkerTool state requires you to log off, and log back in to the system, so that all the changes you made can be reversed.
In short, TinkerTool is a massive Mac OS X 10.7 system and application tweaking utility that makes changes to User Account files in order to apply UI and applications specific tweaks. Unlike other Mac OS X personalization & tweaking utilities which only allow reverting to default system and application settings, you have the option to reverse application preferences and system changes made only by TinkerTool. It’s worth mentioning here that some tweaking options will not work on Mac OS X Lion. You can check out complete list of supported tweaking options for Mac OS X 10.7 here.