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Summary:

While this week many people are searching for Easter Eggs or the Afikoman, here are 10 hidden settings you can find in your Mac apps and OS X. These are all small changes you can make that make using the applications and the system slightly better.

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While this week many people are searching for Easter Eggs or the Afikoman, here are 10 hidden settings you can find in your Mac apps and OS X. These are all small changes you can make that make using the applications and the system slightly better.

First off, you’ll need to open up the Terminal application (/Applications > Utilities > Terminal), since these ‘Easter Eggs’ have to be run from the command line. Once you’ve got that open, you can copy and paste the commands below. Each command is one line only, and you should press Return after pasting in each command. To turn these off after, replace YES with NO (or vice-versa) and repeat the command.

Allow Dashboard Widgets to be Dragged Onto the Desktop

Sometimes it’s useful to keep one of you Dashboard widgets around after you close Dashboard, so paste the following into Terminal:

defaults write com.apple.dashboard devmode YES && killall Dock

To use this ability, click and hold a widget and then close Dashboard using your keyboard hotkey (usually F4 on newer Macs).

Stop Twitter’s Compose Window Floating

The compose window in Twitter for Mac floats above all other windows at all times, which can get annoying. To stop it floating, paste this into Terminal, then restart Twitter for Mac.

defaults write com.twitter.twitter-mac NormalComposeWindowLevel -bool NO

Allow Escape to Close Twitter Compose Window

Another one for Twitter for Mac, this allows you to press Esc to close the new tweet window. Once again, paste and then restart Twitter for Mac.

defaults write com.twitter.twitter-mac ESCClosesComposeWindow -bool YES

Show Hidden Files in the Finder

There are some files which the Finder keeps hidden, but you might want to be able to see them sometimes, such as .htaccess files for web developers. To show hidden files, paste this into Terminal:

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles -bool YES && killall Finder

Your hidden files should now show up.

Disable the ‘Unexpectedly Quit’ Dialog

When an application crashes, you’ll see a dialog telling you the application quit unexpectedly. This can get annoying if it happens often, so you can disable that dialog using

defaults write com.apple.CrashReporter DialogType none

You may need to restart your computer for changes to take effect. To turn this back on again, replace ‘none’ with ‘prompt’.

Enable ‘X-Ray Folders’ in QuickLook

The QuickLook feature of Finder is great, but if you use it on a folder, you won’t see anything except a folder icon. Using this hidden setting, you’ll be able to see the contents of the folder when you use QuickLook.

defaults write com.apple.finder QLEnableXRayFolders 1 && killall Finder

To turn off, replace the ‘1’ with a ‘0’.

Show the File Path in the Finder Window Title

It’s easy to get lost in your file system, so enable this to show the path of the current folder in the title bar of your Finder window. That should make it easier to remember where you are.

defaults write com.apple.finder _FXShowPosixPathInTitle -bool YES && killall Finder

Disable iTunes Arrow Links

You’ll often see tips on how to change the arrow links in iTunes’ list view to go to your library instead of the store, but what about turning them off altogether? Paste this command and restart iTunes.

defaults write com.apple.finder _FXShowPosixPathInTitle -bool YES

Stop the Help Window From Floating

Another troublesome floating window is the Help window which appears when you click Help in most applications. To stop it floating, use

defaults write com.apple.helpviewer NormalWindow -boolean yes

Change the Desktop Picture on the Login Screen

If you don’t like the default image shown behind the login screen, you can change it to any other image using the following command. Just add the path of the image after the word ‘path’.

defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.loginwindow DesktopPicture -path

Bonus: Control Even More Hidden Settings Using Secrets

Secrets is a preference pane which allows you to control even more hidden settings in Mac applications using a friendly interface, rather than having to use Terminal. You can download it here, and once installed you’ll find it at the bottom of System Preferences.

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  1. While the defaults hidden prefs system is definitely useful, none of these are really considered “easter eggs”. I heard awhile back that Jobs or whoever really discouraged this practice in Apple applications, though some can be found in others.

  2. Wrong command for “Disable iTunes Arrow Links”.

    1. Still. Nobody at gigaom seems to care though.

  3. I agree with the fact that these are not Easter Eggs. These are hidden settings that can be set by a whole bunch of apps: Deeper, TinkerTool, Onyx…

  4. How do I remove the File Path in Finder?

  5. office online games Friday, April 22, 2011

    I agree with the fact that these are not Easter Eggs

  6. A fun trick on any PC that supports command line Telnet (OS X, most Windows/Linux PCs) is “telnet towel.blinkenlights.nl”.

  7. The string for “Stop Twitter’s Compose Window Floating” is wrong. It should be -bool YES

  8. Lauren Pinson Thursday, April 28, 2011

    How do I get rid of the widget one it is on my desktop on top of every other application?

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