UI Customization in Leopard

As you might have guessed from my past articles here, I tend to heavily customize the appearance of OS X on any machines I use regularly. Looking at my desktop, I see no default icons, my dock isn’t much better, and every time I use someone else’s machine, I’m generally surprised by the candy-colored dots springing out of the top of my windows.

Then I upgraded to Leopard.

To my faint surprise, most of my icons were gone. Some, fortunately, stuck around – the sea serpent body parts that I use for drive icons, notably – but others, including the complete replacement of the system icons (David Lanham’s Agua set; see my previous posts for a link) had gone. My utter loathing of the boring, front-on, barely-embossed Leopard default folders began. The candy buttons were back, too. The new install ate ShapeShifter and Samui. As if that weren’t enough, I keep my dock on the left, meaning I’m left out of all the fun of customizing my dock; the dark-glass theme completely overrides any modifications made, even if they show up when the dock is at the bottom of the screen.

The Leopard-default replacements aren’t particularly good, either, failing usual interface guidelines in terms of color, shape, and aesthetic rules. For example, take the icon for the music folder. On the left, Leopard’s default; on the right, a Tiger-style music folder. Note how the rich green of the music note really makes the purpose of the folder pop. Look, too, at the difference in shape – the off-center cant and the overrun of the default folder shape by the note make the music folder stand out from any other folder. Why, if the point of different icons for different purposes is to make finding what you want easier and quicker, would anyone choose icons that look all the same?


To my dismay, there doesn’t seem to be any solutions for this. Pixadex’s website doesn’t mention Leopard at all. CandyBar is incompatible with Leopard. So is ClearDock, ShapeShifter, FruitMenu, WindowShade…. all the Unsanity apps, in fact.

Is the fate of all the customization apps Apple’s way of telling users to leave the UI alone? I certainly hope not. That said, though, does anyone know of any solutions to this, short of changing each and every icon manually? For that matter, what about all the UI elements – the toolbars, the buttons – that can’t be changed through the Get Info pane?


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