I’m just going to lay it out here: I’m a reformed PC-user. I had a lot of PCs for a long time, and though I’ve have my succession of Mac systems longer than I allowed PCs in my home, I do miss some of the customization I could do on a Windows machine. I could fiddle. Sure I got stuff wrong sometimes, but I could eventually fix anything I’d broken too badly.
A Mac doesn’t really give you that option. So many of the really cool settings are locked away from the lay user. Mountain Tweaks draws back the curtain, at last, and is giving all of us, not just Mountain Lion users, maybe the easiest way yet to get at some of the best OS X tweaks.
Make OS X What You Want it to Be
The first tab you see when you open Mountain Tweaks is the General Tweaks tab, this is a bunch of tweaks that will work on most versions of OS X that users might still be running, back to 10.5. There’s a lot here I’m already familiar with from tweaks apps I’ve used before, but this is maybe the best and easiest layout I’ve seen.
Some of the standouts are the ability to enable the 2D Dock, highlighting Stack items on mouseover, hiding the Spotlight search in the menu bar, and showing hidden files. You can even disable the Crash dialog popup, so you won’t always be asked to send Apple error reports every time Archive Utility or some other application has a hiccup. It’s easy to turn all of this on and off, so if you just need to get to your hidden files for a few minutes, you can select that in Mountain Tweaks and then turn it right back off when you’re done.
The next tab is Lion Tweaks, and most of these should work in both Lion and Mountain Lion. You can disable Autosave for all applications, turn off spelling autocorrect, and other similar Lion annoyances. If you find they weren’t annoyances after all, just hit up Mountain Tweaks again to turn the tweak off.
The Mountain Lion Tweaks tab is really going to only be for Mountain Lion users. If you haven’t upgraded to Mountain Lion, you’re going to want to pass this one by. There’s some pretty nifty stuff in here, though. You can (finally) remove the “leather” from Calendar and Contacts, which is maybe the best thing an app has ever done for me. You can also disable a bunch of other stuff, like Gatekeeper and “Go To Folder” in Finder. Mountain Tweaks also lets you change the background in Notification Center by launching a workflow.
How to Undo
If you ever start thinking you’ve gone too far, it’s simple to Command-Z all this. If you only want to undo a single tweak, locate it in its tab and click No. That’s it. The tweak will shut off. There are a couple of tweaks that run installers, so you may have to uninstall something if getting rid of the tweak requires it, but clicking No will launch the uninstaller for you. That’s rare, though, and most tweaks will disappear with a single click.
Things may have really gone off the rails for you, though. You may have clicked Yes next to just about every tweak, and now your Mac seems to be doing some pretty weird stuff it wasn’t doing a few days ago. There are .DS_Store files all over the place, and you have no idea where they all came from, but they just won’t go away. Don’t worry, because Mountain Tweaks has you covered. Click over to the Restore tab and select “restore to system default.” When the process is done, everything on you computer will go back to how it was before Mountain Tweaks ever darkened your door.
Making Things Easy
I’ve used a few tweaks apps before this one, and while they could do pretty much all the same things, they weren’t anywhere as easy to use. It was never so obvious how to turn a tweak on and off. It doesn’t get much simpler than big, friendly buttons marked Yes and No. The layout of the tweaks tabs is also really nice. Despite being called Mountain Tweaks, the tweaks for Mountain Lion are buried on the third tab. This is actually a good thing. Most users are going to be able to use the tweaks on the first tab, including Mountain Lion users, so the app was laid out with the idea of serving as many users as possible, whatever version of OS X they might be using.
With the simple layout and no nonsense Yes/No selection, there’s never a question as to what’s going on. I’m going to be frank and let you know that I’m somewhat fearless when it comes to customization on my MacBook Pro, but not everyone is as dumb as me. People usually want to know they have a backup plan if something goes wrong, if a tweak doesn’t have the intended effect. That’s precisely what Mountain Tweaks gives the user. There’s no need for trepidation because you know from the moment you open the app that you’ve got a safety net.
Mountain Tweaks is an incredibly useful app. There are some great tools here for users of all levels. Everything from basic design customization to what can be necessary adjustments to how the OS works are at your mouse click. If you find you’re going to your Library folder a lot but don’t want to dig for it anymore, you can make it easier to get to. If you need to see your hidden files, they’ll suddenly become visible. And if you need all of that to suddenly go away, Mountain Tweaks can make that happen, too.
Useful doesn’t always mean well-designed or easy to use, though. I’ve downloaded my share of useful apps, only to stare dumbfounded at my screen until I figured out what I was supposed to be doing. Mountain Tweaks is absolutely not that kind of application. It’s an easy setup and easy takedown. The different kinds of tweaks are laid out nicely, so you’re never confused as to whether what you’re trying to accomplish was really meant to work on your computer anyway. It’s really just a great, easy, useful app, that I’d recommend to anyone trying to get more out of OS X.