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.