Everybody knows that tinkering with hidden configurations of any system is not for newbies. Regular users should stay within the boundary of “just using and no screwing”. There are so many disaster stories caused by those who step out of their territories, that we often hear sayings like: “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it” and “If something could go wrong, it will”.
But despite the endless warnings, we just can’t keep our hands off. Curiosity is an inseparable part of human nature. Human advancements are the result of making mistakes and learning from them. That’s why there are tools like Secrets, which allow non-geeky users to play with those scary configurations safely and unlock hidden mac features.
Tell me your Secrets
Secrets is a Mac OS X preference pane developed by Blacktree – the same guys who brought us Quicksilver. This little app will allow Mac users to peek into their feline’s deepest secrets which were usually only accessible via command line in Terminal.
To download the app, go to the developer’s website and click on the “PrefPane” link. The latest version at the time of writing is 1.0.6 (10.5+). It means that this app is not for Tiger users and below.
Using it is fairly simple. After installation, just open System Preferences and click on Secrets under the “Other” group.
A window full of modifiable items will appear, ready to be tinkered with to access hidden Mac features. In the left pane is the list of Applications and on the right is the list of their secrets (modifiable hidden settings).
You could go through the applications list one item at a time and change the settings of each one by one, or you could also use the search function if you know which settings that you are looking for.
*Editor’s note: It is advisable to only change one setting at a time and view their effects, in order to prevent crashes or other unfavourable results.*
In my opinion, the most important function of Secrets is the “Revert” button located at the bottom of the window. Clicking this button will revert the system to its default value. This is the safety net for the times when the changes you’ve made causing your system to become unstable.
The Secrets society
The feature that makes Secrets superior to other similar applications is its growing database of secrets. If there are new items available or if you install new tweakable applications, Secrets will download those entries and add them to the hidden Mac features list.
The update process is automatic, but you can use the “Update Secrets” button to invoke it.
Part of this ever growing database comes from ordinary users like you. If you know an unlisted secret or two, you can contribute them to Blacktree’s database so that everybody else can also benefit from them.
If you spot non-working secrets or if you have a secrets wish list, you could also contribute your thoughts to them.
Sharing few useful secrets
There are many useful secrets that I found among tons of other secrets. Here are few examples:
- The ability to change the login desktop picture –> This is the first item on the “Top Secret” list. Click on the location on the right and Secrets will let you choose other desktop picture for the login windows.
- Check spelling as you type –> this item is located under the “System” group. As a person who doesn’t use English as the main language, the constant red line that appears under every word I type could be very annoying. Disabling this option gives me a more relaxed view.
- Login window text –> Dig deeper into the System group, you’ll find option to add login window text, along with other login options.
- Enable/Disable Dashboard –> Not everybody uses Dashboard. While some people uses Widgets heavily, others might see them just as additional burden to the system. There are many ways to enable/disable Dashboard, but I found that using Secrets is the easiest.
- Adding separators to the dock –> Secrets allows users to add separators to the dock either on the left side or on the right side (or both). There are also options to add Stacks.
And here’s what the result looks like.
- Quit Finder in the menu –> If you’ve ever wanted to quit Finder, you could use this option to add “Quit Finder” in the menu.
And if you don’t believe me you could do that, here’s the proof.
- X-Ray vision –> And here’s my favorite: Show X-ray folder in Quick Look. You can find it on the “Top Secret” or Finder section. If you activate it, you can view the contents of a folder while using Quick Look. (Secrets will ask you to quit Finder before the result could take place). Not really useful, but totally cool.
Try it yourself by selecting a folder in Finder and hit the Spacebar key to activate Quick Look. Then take your time.
Have you tried Secrets? Do you know some other cool secrets that we can activate? Share using the comment below.