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Mac OS X is already a very beautiful operating system. Perhaps that’s why it’s so hard to customize its interface elements, especially compared to other operating systems. It’s easy to understand where they’re coming from, if you want to keep the average Mac computer from looking like one of the old MySpace profiles. On the other hand, sometimes it’s nice to be able to put your own touch on the look of your computer, beyond simply changing the desktop wallpaper.
Luckily there are several third-party tools that allow you to tweak the appearance of your system. The best known is CandyBar, an admittedly wonderful application that helps you to swap application and system icons if you’re willing to spend a few bucks. But changing the look and feel of your system doesn’t have to cost any money.
iCondubber is a free alternative to CandyBar, and more than just a copycat. It’s incredibly easy to swap out icons of applications and system items, as we’ll see below. However, you can use iCondubber to modify nearly every aspect of your operating system’s interface.
Just look at the screenshot below – all the icons in the central pane are related to the Safari interface, and only a small subset is shown. Novice users may want to draw the line at application icons (after all, these are often system files), but it’s nice to know advanced tinkering is readily available for those users who have the heart and know-how.
Interestingly, the application also lacks the need to restart your computer, or even to log out. Instead, with your permission, the application can refresh all the modified icons on the spot, although it does need to quit all open applications.
In the end, iCondubber packs a good punch, but it’s not always as intuitive to use as its premium counterparts. Lacking an option to disable the more advanced features, novice users should be careful not to blindly mess around with the application. Luckily, iCondubber can reverse most superficial changes with a few clicks of the mouse.
How To Modify Icons & Other Interface Elements
iCondubber is pre-populated with most interface elements that can be edited. These are shown by selecting the appropriate tab at the bottom of the window.
To change an application icon, you first need to add the application to iCondubber by pressing the plus icon in the lower left corner of the application. Selecting the application in the left sidebar will populate the center pane with all the interface elements peculiar to the application, including the application icon.
Once you’ve located the icon or image you’re looking for, you can either swap it out for another file, or manually edit the original. Swapping two files is as easy as dragging the replacement file onto the file inspector. Right-clicking this inspector will give you several other options, the most important of which is the ability to edit the original file in another application.
Applying & Reverting Changes
Before the changes you made in the application are applied across your system, you first need to install the modified interface elements. These changes can be applied one by one, or all at once by selecting smart install as shown below. This will apply all changes since your last tinkering session. However, this may require you to quit all open applications, so be sure to save your work before doing this.
iCondubber makes a backup of the files you tinker with, so if you ever grow tired of the new look of your system, you can use iCondubber to restore everything. This will revert all the superficial changes you made. Again, this can be done for a single selected item, or for all modified items at once.
Have you ever tweaked the look of your Mac? Let us know in the comments!