TinkerTool: Your Hidden Preference Pane

Your Mac is full of hidden settings.

Go to System Preferences > Dock and you can change the animation effect for when you minimize a window. Should it scale down into the Dock? Or should it act like Aladin’s Genie, flowing from it’s corner like coming into or out of a lamp?

The Dock Preference Pane only gives you two options, but there’s actually a third, hidden option called “Suck In”. It’s not some third party mod, it’s just an option that is native to the OS that the developers at Apple decided to include but leave hidden.

In your travels, you may have come across some of these “hidden settings” like adding spacers to the Dock, changing your screenshot location folder, or revealing hidden files. If you have then you know that they usually require that you enter some command into the Terminal. I advocate for everyone learning a few safe ways of using the Terminal, but the method has its drawbacks. Chiefly:

  • Not everyone is comfortable using the Terminal for any reason
  • Remembering what preferences you’ve modified and what state they’re in is difficult

Enter TinkerTool

From developer, Marcel Bresink, TinkerTool acts as a graphical user interface for all the hidden preferences you would normally need to use Terminal to interact with.

tinker-tool

I love TinkerTool because it is:

  • Free: Costs absolutely nothing
  • Simple: Works just like any preference window you’re used to.
  • Consolidated: I used to have a text file called “Mods to Laptop” where I marked all the places I changed a hidden preference. This system sucked.
  • Safe: Since these are all just preferences, they won’t break your computer and do not require special admin privileges to work
  • Light: It only changes native MacOS preferences so it doesn’t need to run in the background, taking resources.
  • Resetable: Reset everything you’ve altered with TinkerTool in one click

Download TinkerTool

My Favorite Preferences

TinkerTool is one of those toys that you just need to dig into to really appreciate why it rocks, but here are a few on the things I find extremely useful. Any one of these makes TinkerTool worth the download.

Change Screenshot Destination Folder

Hitting ⇧⌘3 will take a picture of your entire screen and ⇧⌘4 will let you take a shot of a specific area on your screen. Both will plunk the image files down on your desktop, which very quickly gets cluttered with screenshots.

In TinkerTool > General you may select a specific folder for screenshots to appear in after they’re taken. This will do wonders for you tidyness.

General Preferences > Destination folder

Help your Desktop be less of a train wreck

I’ve never seen anyone who stores screenshots on their Desktop be able to find anything quickly on their desktop, least of all screenshots. Since your Desktop displays everything as icons, and screenshots are titled with a very long timestamp, there’s not reliable way to quickly find the shot you’re looking for.

I use screenshots every single day, so I created a screenshots folder in my Dropbox and put it in the dock, set to sort descending from date added. This means I can always find my recent screenshots in the dock.

Screenshots folder in dock

Ahh isn’t that cleaner?

Accelerate Animation When Rolling Out Sheets

When you hit ⌘P to print a document, a thing containing print options rolls down from the top of the window. This same thing happens when you go to save a new document. The thing that rolls down is a special dialog called a “Sheet”, you can read about them on Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines.

Sheet example

I’ve found that the time it takes for a sheet to complete rolling out can interfere with some of the more complex macros I make with Keyboard Maestro. This option makes the sheets roll out much faster.

In the above GIF you can see the normal sheet rollout animation on the left and accelerated animation on the right.

The complete animation is defined as the time between when the File > Save command is entered and the Save button is activated. The normal animation takes 25/30 of a second while the accelerated animation takes just 11/30 of a second. The base amount of time a sheet takes to rollout depends on the application, but it is always much faster with this preference on.

This change requires a restart or a re-login to take effect.

Prefer Expanded Save Dialogs When Using New Applications

The “Save Dialog” is the sheet that comes down when you save a new file. It has two states: “compact” and “expanded”.

The compact view gives you text fields for the filename and tags and a dropdown menu for common save destinations.

Collapsed Save Dialog

Collapsed Save Dialog

Expanded view gives a full file explorer complete with your favorites, so you can choose where the file will be saved more easily.

Expanded Save Dialog

Expanded Save Dialog

I always want the full expanded view so I can immediately navigate to a new destination for the file I’m saving or just hit save if it’s already set to where I want. There is literally no situation in which I would want a compact save dialog, so it’s annoying when I get them. It’s my personal preference so I was happy when I found TinkerTool could change it.

TinkerTool’s option under TinkerTool > General > Sheets > Prefer expanded Save dialogs when using new applications will make sure you always get the expanded save dialog.

This change requires a restart or a re-login to take effect.

Disable Sound Effects in Finder

I went through a phase where I thought application sound effects were the coolest thing. That trash can dunk sound you get when throwing away a file was music to my ears. I even enabled the feedback sounds in MS Excel so that every time I copied, pasted, etc. I would get this satisfying *schick* sound effect. Now that I’m older and more crotchety I find feedback sounds largely grating.

No matter your feelings on the soudns of throwing away or copying files, you probably agree that they’re annoying when you have your volume turned way up.

In TinkerTool > Finder > Finder options you have an array of options including “Disable sound effects”. Play with the others as well because they’re pretty interesting.

Remember to hit “Relaunch Finder” in the bottom right so that the options will take effect.

Experiment and Be Empowered

There is a lot of neat stuff to be found in this app and all of it will teach you something about your Mac. I love these types of utilities because they let you go off the beaten path and offer no risk due to their easy resetability.

Play around, tweak your settings, learn personal preferences you didn’t know you had!

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