TinkerTool Classic

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TinkerTool Classic

Known Issues

There are currently no known issues for this product.

Release Notes

The are currently no known problems that require additional documentation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is TinkerTool?

TinkerTool is an application which gives you access to additional preference settings Apple has built into Mac OS X. This allows to activate hidden features in the operating system and in some of the applications that come with the system.

TinkerTool does not provide any features itself. Its single task is to give you an extended interface to your personal preference settings. The tool will never change anything in the operating system. For this reason, the integrity of your system is not put at risk. All settings are restricted to the user accounts that launch TinkerTool. If you have multiple user accounts on your computer, settings of different users will not affect each other.

The feature set of Mac OS X varies greatly between different operating system versions. For this reason, TinkerTool must automatically adapt to the system it is running on. The settings available in each system version are listed at the download page.

When you detect a preference setting that causes a compatibility problem with a third-party application, you can simply reset this or all preferences to their previous values.

Can I have a manual for TinkerTool?

There is no documentation other than this English FAQ list. Because TinkerTool doesn't provide any features, there is not much that could be documented. The tool has a single function: If you click on setting "X", TinkerTool will change your personal preference setting "X". Apple may change the meaning of setting "X" any time at their own discretion, so we have absolutely no influence on the effects each setting may achieve.

Is TinkerTool compatible with Mac OS X Server?

Yes, there is no difference between Mac OS X and the corresponding version of Mac OS X Server. The Server version only comes with additional administration and service software. So TinkerTool works the same on both system versions.

Could you please add feature "X" to TinkerTool?

In most cases, the answer is no. TinkerTool does not provide any features, so it cannot add any. The features you are seeing are provided by Mac OS X and controlled by Apple. TinkerTool is only a helper application to activate them.

However, if you know an additional built-in preference setting neither accessible in System Preferences nor in TinkerTool, suggestions are welcome. Note that we sometimes have to deny integration of a preference setting because the setting may have a negative effect on some applications (which is the reason why Apple did not make access to this setting publicly available).

I have enabled double scroll arrows at both ends of scroll bars. Why doesn't this work with iTunes?

All recent versions of iTunes use their own user interface which is basically not fully compatible with the Aqua design of Mac OS X. Unfortunately iTunes is not capable of supporting the preference setting to display four arrows in scroll bars.

Can the option "Finder: Disable Desktop features" have negative side effects?

Yes. Unfortunately, the Finder of certain versions of Mac OS X 10.3.x "Panther" might crash when it is quit if the option "Disable Desktop features" has been activated. If you are affected by this problem, uncheck the option and restart the Finder. This will resolve the issue. Apple may fix this problem in future versions of the Finder.

There are .DS_Store files everywhere! Has TinkerTool destroyed my system?

No, you just have enabled the Finder's "show all files" option with TinkerTool. The .DS_Store files are created by the Finder during its normal course of operation but they are invisible by default. The Finder will automatically put a .DS_Store file into every folder you have opened. These files are used to save the positions of icons, the size of the respective Finder window, the window's background, and many more view options. While professional users consider the .DS_Store files to be a design flaw of the Mac OS X Finder, a mechanism like this is necessary when opening Finder windows for exchangeable disk media to give former users of the classic Mac OS the same user experience they had in previous operating system versions. If you don't like to see the .DS_Store files, disable the "show all files" option in TinkerTool, or replace the Finder by a better file management application.

Why can't TinkerTool change the font of the Finder, the Dock, or the menu bar?

The Finder, the Dock, and the menu bar are mainly using a Carbon-based user interface. Carbon emulates the legacy technologies of the classic Mac OS which did not have a feature allowing users to change their font preferences. For this reason these components will ignore font settings. You can use applications that take advantage of the old "theme" technology to modify the look of Carbon applications. Note that most of those applications are not really compatible with Mac OS X. They basically destroy the graphics resources for the operating system and replace them with their own versions. The changes are applied to the whole system, not one particular user, and sometimes the modifications don't survive system updates.

The minimum font size setting does not seem to work for Safari. Can you fix this?

The setting actually does work, but Safari does not respect this setting if the displayed document page is using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). It is not possible to change this.

Can I completely disable font smoothing in Panther?

No and yes. Although the operating system does not support a feature to disable font smoothing generally, you can use the simple trick to set a very high size limit for the smoothing of fonts. If you set the limit to 144 points, basically all fonts in the user interface will no longer be smoothed.

Why can't I disable font smoothing for the standard font of the Mac OS X user interface?

Depending on operating system version, Mac OS X may or may not be capable of changing font smoothing settings for the font "Lucida Grande", the default font used in most Mac OS X dialog windows. This problem is not restricted to TinkerTool: Apple's original System Preferences application shows the same problem if you are changing the font smoothing limit in the Appearance preference pane. We made Apple aware of this issue, but they don't plan to fix it.

How do I work with the Shortcuts pane?

Let's say you have an application that is missing a keyboard shortcut for a menu item, but you use that menu item very often and would like to define a shortcut for it. For example, Internet Explorer is missing the usual "Apple+Shift+P" shortcut for "File > Page Setup...". In this case:

  1. Press the "add new shortcut" button in TinkerTool.
  2. Enter "Page Setup..." into the field "For all menu items titled:"
  3. Enter "P" at "Key:", select the checkmark with the "shift" symbol, and deselect the "ctrl" symbol at "Modifier Keys".
  4. Press the "Apply" button.
  5. Launch Internet Explorer. It should now have a new shortcut at the "File > Page Setup..." menu item.

Can I use TinkerTool to let Mac OS X create files with less strict permission settings?

Yes and no. In general, each application has to decide for itself which permissions to set when creating new files or folders. It is not possible to force a general default setting for all new objects. (This would create serious security holes in the operating system and would make Mac OS X unusable.)

However, many applications don't care about permission settings when creating new files. In this case, Mac OS X applies a default security restriction to the permission settings. While it is not possible to set a default for the permission settings themselves, it is possible to set a default for the security restrictions that are applied to the permission settings if the application doesn't set stricter permissions.

By default, Mac OS X will not allow that new objects have write permission for the owning group and other users. (Typical permissions are "owner: read & write", "group: read", "others: read".) You can for example relax this strict setting, removing the "don't allow write permission for the group" default. This is possible with TinkerTool's Permissions pane, available in Mac OS X 10.3 and higher: Remove the checkmark at "Group / Write file: Don't allow", log out, and log in.

If you apply this change, all applications launched via the graphical user interface of this user account will grant write permission to the group, unless an application itself decides not to grant write permission. In most applications, files will now be created with the setting "owner: read & write", "group: read & write", "others: read").

This preference has no effect on applications launched via a Terminal shell which includes the X Window environment in most configurations. These environments can use the Unix "umask" setting of the shell to achieve the same effect.

Note: Files created by an AFP (AppleShare) or SMB/CIFS (Windows) file server may override this default mechanism because the servers can be instructed to establish their own security policy. Refer to the file server documentation for more information.

How can I remove TinkerTool?

Just drag the application to the trash. Because TinkerTool doesn't install or change anything in the operating system, that's all. You might consider resetting Mac OS X's preferences you have changed via TinkerTool to the pre-installation state before removing the tool. (See the next item.)

I used TinkerTool for a while, then I deleted it. But all of its settings are still effective, what should I do?

As mentioned above, TinkerTool just changes user preference settings of Mac OS X. Applications will respect their settings no matter if TinkerTool is on your disk or not. If you want to reset your configuration, just open the Reset pane in TinkerTool, choose one of the reset buttons, log out and log in.

Why did Apple include so many hidden features in Mac OS X?

Of course we cannot officially speak for Apple, but there are several reasons why some built-in preference settings of Mac OS X are usually kept under the hood:

  1. Settings for professional users: Some settings, e.g. the preference to show hidden and system files in the Finder, are official features of Mac OS X but Apple intentionally does not disclose them to normal end users. Those features are documented to developers or to professional users which read the technical manuals of Mac OS X. This way Apple can keep the user interface simple, at the same time not excluding particular user groups from using advanced features.
    Especially in professional networks, system administrators even don't like the graphical user interface but prefer shell scripts and the Terminal command-line. So there are also cases where Apple considers it too costly to develop a graphical user interface, thinking that most users would not use it.
  2. OPENSTEP settings untouched by Apple: Technically seen, Mac OS X is not a successor of Mac OS but of NeXT's operating system "OPENSTEP for Mach". This operating system contained several features which are still part of Mac OS X. In some cases, Apple does not want to touch some of the old features, because this could have the risk of unwanted side effects. For this reason, these functions have never been deactivated but are "sleeping" in the OS.
  3. Features hidden for design and marketing reasons: System developers usually think far ahead while designing their applications. For this reason they prepare or implement many features without a direct order. In some cases they "play" with some features or need them for temporary testing purposes. However, superiors or the marketing division might later decide that a feature is "too advanced", "not needed by most users", or "doesn't look right". Because it can be very expensive and time-consuming to remove program code, those functions are only deactivated, not deleted, and we have another "sleeping" feature.

This list of reasons is not necessarily complete. The strategy of hiding built-in features is not unusual, you can see the same on other operating systems as well. For example, Microsoft® has a tool called "Tweak UI" which does a similar job on MS-Windows® as TinkerTool does on Mac OS X.