Customise the Dock with the Dev. Tools


Search for a file called Double-click it and it will open in one of the apps installed with the dev tools (I can't remember the name of the app right now ;)). Click on the toggle triangle next to the word root and set showforeground to a boolean and set it to yes. Do the same with showhidden. Logout and log back in. The dock will now dim hidden apps and the active app will have a blue triangle. :)

Hope all of you enjoy this,
You may have to type "defaults write showforeground 1" and "defaults write showhidden 1". Replacing 1 w/ yes might work instead of editing in property list editor.

Enjoy this added usability :),
There's an easy way to do this from the terminal:

defaults write showforeground -boolean YES
defaults write showhidden -boolean YES
You can read the full scoop on the osxhints site, if you like -- there are a couple of other interface article hacks there, too. See the .sig for the URL...


Okay... not terribly familiar with editting plists... i got it working now, but my question is:

1) How did you figure out that you could add these properties? (or can you simply add any properties you want?)

2) If it *is* possible to hack this Dock setup so easily, how easy/hard would it be to add a darker shading (as when an icon is directly clicked in the Dock) to the active application.

By default it is nearly impossible to figure out the active application by glancing at the Dock, and even with the Blue triangle hack there is plenty of room from improvement - ie: see operation of the OS 9 Application Switcher.


I have found the dock to be a bit annoying

I think I will find it useful (when the apps I use are developed for it) to quickly switch between apps as I tend to run a few at the same time :) to many for OS9 sometimes

anyway os there any way to get a list of alias's for my apps to be called up on the dock? Have too many apps to put them all on there and it is wasting my time having to use the finder to open apps I want to use, even if I keep the app folder hidden in the dock.

Would be very usefull if you could have a pop up list of your apps maybe even nested folders inside much like can be done with applemenuitems in OS9

Would be very useful and time saving to those of us who are constanly using different programs.
Not just saying this because it is different to OS9!
About plist "hacking":

When you modify a plist, you're just telling the program to do something that it already knows how to do. Its just that perhaps the programmers haven't (or never will) put in a checkbox in the "preferences" window to let oyu change the pref from the GUI.

How do people find these things? Well, I have a suggestion and a thought.
Suggestion: Use strings on the app binary. This searches for embedded strings, which lets you know what the app may be looking for when it reads a plist (among other things)
Thought: Apple engineers may have anonymously posted suggestions for the cooler of the hacks, like the translucent terminal, preceisely because they thought it was cool.

About the Dock in general:
After a few months of fighting osx to make it like os 9, I just surrendered, and began using it as it was designed. No apple menu. No disks on desktop. Just seven of my absloutely most used apps in the dock. And lo and behold, I began to really like the simplicity and minimalism of the interface.
Of course, accessing the other fifty apps I use on a weekly and daily basis is a bit more tough, and I agree that stashing a folder in the dock isn't the best way, because it really is a lot slower than pop-up folders.
I made this suggestion to apple, and I believe that it would do a lot of good:
1) Minimized windows genie into the owner app. Control clicking on the app brings upa little slide out panel with the windows (previews AND text labels) that you can one-click to open.
Now the right side of the dock is free for docs and folders.
2) Control clicking on a folder in the dock brings up the same little slide out tray with one click access to the folder contents. Pop-up windows redux.
(I described this and the full implications earlier a few posts down in this thread: )
I think these two tweaks would alone make the OS X experience about 100 times better for me.

Any thoughts?

[Edited by zpincus on 12-05-2000 at 11:31 PM]
I personally find the Dock to be nicer than the OS 8.6/9 app switcher (if only it would stop trying to do everything possible all at once). The reason is this little feature never possible previous to OS X:

Start half a dozen or more apps. As in 8.6/9, command-tab moves the foreground app from one to the next, command-shift-tab moves in the opposite direction.

Here's the tricky bit: in classic Mac OS, the tab order is fixed - alphabetical. So if you want to rapidly and frequently switch between two apps, and they happen to have lots of running apps between them (alphabetically), that's a lot of keystrokes.

In OS X though, the tab order is Dock order - command-tab moves right, command-shift-tab moves left. So now you just drag the inconveniently named apps next to each other, and they're just one keystroke apart.

OK, so maybe it's not all that cool, but I like it.
Those hidden options aren\'t just found by chance, or because an apple engineer leaked information. As a matter of fact, it is quite easy to find your own...Just use the command \'defaults\'. Using \'defaults domains\' you will find what applications there are available for \"hacking\". Most of the names are on the format com.<company>.<Program>. To see what options there are available for one of those \"domains\" use \'defaults read <domainname>\' where domainname is the program name. The console will spit out a lot of variable names (or a few depending on the application). To change one of the values use \'defaults write <domainname> <property> <newvalue>\'. Restart the application in question to see results. Sometimes the property names are difficult to understand, but there is nothing to do about that. For more information on \'defaults\' consult \'man defaults\'. That was what I used to find this information.

/David Remahl, Chmod007
your point is both true and not true, chmod...

defaults read provides information about all the currently set options in a plist. A lot of novel behavior (ie: hacks) can be accessed by changing and turning off or on these options that already extant in the plist.

However, there is another class of hack (the dock hacks in this thread, I think, and most assuredly the terminal opaqueness hack) that will not be revealed by a defaults read command.
These are the cases in which adding as opposed to altering an XML key-value pair to a plist causes an application to produce novel behavior. defaults read, which is basically just an XML parser, can only tell you the keys that are already in the plist but cannot divine what other keys an aplication may or may not recognize.

For example, if you create a new user, their ~user/Library/Preferences/ file will not contain the string TerminalOpaqueness, and thus defaults read will not return this as a key. However, defaults write TerminalOpaqueness 0.5 will have an effect.

However, many hidden options are already set in the default plists, so the suggestion to use defaults read is very valuable. Many thanks chmod.

Note that I may be a bit wrong on some of the points here, since I am unable to access my OS X box right now. However, this is the general pattern that I recall.


[Edited by zpincus on 01-04-2001 at 05:40 PM]