MacMost Now 827: Using TinkerTool To Customize Your Mac

If you want to go beyond System Preferences and change other settings on your Mac, you can do so with the Terminal window. But TinkerTool makes it even easier by giving you a list of potential settings and a user interface to make the changes without typing.

Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 827: Using TinkerTool To Customize Your Mac.

Hi, this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode let's look at customizing your Mac using TinkerTool.

TinkerTool is a utility that you download online, here is the URL to it, and you go to the download area, click the download button here, and it will give you a disk image. Put that in your Application/Utilities folder and then you can run it.

Now I can only recommend using TinkerTool if you are an advanced Mac user. This is going to give you the power to change how your Mac works and it can be very dangerous if you don't know what you are doing.

You know how every once in a while you see how you can change something in your Mac by typing in a long line in the Terminal window. Type this long line and it changes how your Mac works, changes some sort of setting. Well, all TinkerTool is, is it's easy access to these. Instead of having to type this line in Terminal you can just check a box in TinkerTool. So it doesn't really do anything you couldn't do without TinkerTool it just makes it easier to find and change these settings.

So when you run TinkerTool you get a huge set here of different tabs at the top; different categories of settings. You click on a tab, like Finder here, and you can see all the different things that you can change. Now note that in a lot of cases you need to relaunch whatever it is you are effecting. For instance I can change something here and I won't see the change until I relaunch the Finder and usually there is a button there that makes it easy to do that.

So for instance I can go to another set here, I can go to the Dock set here and there are different things that I can do but I have to Relaunch Dock as well.

So just as a test let's do one of these. It is not a very useful one but I am going to turn on Disable three-dimensional glass effect. If you go down to my Dock you can see it looks normal now. I do that and I relaunch the Dock and now I go down to the Dock and it looks like this instead. So not too useful. A lot of these are just kind of cosmetic things. You don't necessarily want to use all these but there are a few that are useful. Let me point some out.

So I've just turned on Use transparent icons for hidden applications and I've relaunched the Dock. Now what this does it is kind of neat. Down here in the Dock now you can see that TextEdit is semi-transparent there. That is because I have hidden it. If I bring it to the front it is a normal icon. I'm going to use Command H to hide it and now you can see in the Dock it is hidden. So it kind of gives me a nice visual indicator of what I have hidden here or what may actually just not have any windows open at the time.

So here under General settings there is some useful things but one I like is to turn on the expanded Save dialogs when using new applications. I showed this on a recent episode. You can have the simplified Save options or expanded ones. Once you expand it remembers that. But this will turn it on by default so the first time you use it it is expanded. So you can see that I have that one turned on.

If you are using a Mac that has an optical drive here is an option to add an eject button to the menu bar. This will restart the menu bar here. If you need to access eject pretty often and you don't like moving over to the keyboard to do it there is an easy way to do it right there. You can also completely deactivate Dashboard here if you don't want to use that as well.

Some of these you will notice aren't just things that are in the Terminal window but are actually things you can access in System Preferences but they are also here.

The Applications tab has several different applications that you can customize. For instance one thing here is that in Mail you can set it so that attachments aren't displayed in the message, you actually have to open them up as you would have done years ago before they had in-line attachments.

Also you can turn on a lot of Debug menus in different applications if you want to use those. There is some useful things like under Spotlight not including dictionary entries in your searches.

There is some handy ones in the QuickTime tab. One is here the appearance of the controls. Sometimes it is annoying every time you move your cursor to have those controls display. Sometimes you want to keep them always visible. So you can kind of customize that here using these settings.

Now here is a very useful section under Resume. A lot of people like or hate the resume feature but you can turn it off. So that way when you quick an application it automatically closes all the windows when you quick the application. This is the default behavior. But then you can customize it per App. So for instance if you wanted Pages to always close the windows when you quit and work differently than all your other Apps you can set it here to "Yes always close windows when quit" so that next time you start Pages all your documents will be closed. Or you can set any of these to use the default.

So TinkerTool, like the settings themselves, seems exciting when you first hear about it but the changes are really quite minor and don't really effect that much. I find that I rarely ever change one of the default settings. Again, I only recommend this for advanced users and only if there is some setting that you really like and you find it easier to change this way rather than using the Terminal window.

Hope you found this useful. Until next time this is Gary with MacMost Now.

You can get TinkerTool at

Comments: 6 Responses to “MacMost Now 827: Using TinkerTool To Customize Your Mac”

    6 years ago

    Hey Gary,

    Can TinkerTool, or any other app you’re aware of, allow a Macbook Pro to logout or screen saver lock upon closing the lid?

    Currently OS X does not seem to have this option.


      6 years ago

      I know what you mean. TinkerTool doesn’t actually enable you to do anything that you can’t do without typing a command in Terminal or changing a setting elsewhere. And there’s no way to change the “close lid” behavior. You have to either put it to sleep yourself before closing the lid (maybe use a hot corner for that). Or set the sleep time to something low, like 1 minute.

        6 years ago

        Thanks Gary.

    6 years ago


    I find the Dock setting “Add stack for recent items” to be very handy.


    6 years ago

    If you change a default setting using this application and then delete the application, will my mac keep the setting or revert back to default?

      6 years ago

      All TinkerTool does is execute a command line (Terminal) command. So, no, if you delete TinkerTool it won’t change the setting back.

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