OmniDazzle takes a step away from the usual affair of serious, stylish Mac software to solve a unique an interesting problem. It’s different to say the least!
When you think of The Omni Group, serious productivity tools come to mind – often OmniFocus, or one of their diagramming/graphing apps. You don’t necessarily think of software for spicing up your mouse pointer…
OmniDazzle does just that, offering a way to easily add some jazz to your daily pointing. It’s great fun, and has plenty of serious uses after you’ve finished playing around with magical pointer-pixie dust!
OmniDazzle is produced by the Omni Group and even though it is a free application it is still a very polished piece of software. The installation is quick and easy and it can be downloaded from the Omni Group website. An icon will automatically be installed in your menu bar to change settings and turn the application on or off.
Right now I’m fairly confident you’re wondering what exactly OmniDazzle is, and what problems it solves. That is a valid question and to be quite honest I can’t give you a completely straightforward answer. It’s a bit up in the air and really up to you how you use it.
OmniDazzle is probably best summed up as a package of plugins that can be used to enhance the actions of your mouse and desktop. OK, you’re right, that still seems pretty vague. The best way to really get a feel for the application is to actually use it. Let me take you through a handful of different scenarios and explain some possible uses for the software.
When active, this plugin will put a bullseye around your pointer. The bullseye will remain until you turn it off. I’m not sure there are necessarily a thousand uses for this, but I can think of a few instances where it could be useful.
As with a lot of these plugins, this one could see some benefit in an instructional environment. It could be used to help show exactly where the pointer is at during key places in a presentation. For example, if I wanted to illustrate to my friend exactly where the option to change the highlight color in the OS X preferences is I could show something like this:
The plugin can be activated and deactivated by using a key combination, a mouse button, or a mouse shake. These can be set up in the preferences of the plugin. The default key combination of control-` works quite well for most of these I think.
This could also be handy to quickly find your pointer. Trust me, the bullseye is easy to pick out whenever it is activated no matter where it is on your display (or displays). A pretty minor use that could have large benefit for those with visual disabilities or even those using a very large display.
As with all the OmniDazzle plugins, the Bullseye can be configured. The size of the bullseye, the number of rings and the color can be set along with the activation/deactivation command.
Have you ever see the old Batman television series from the 1960′s? Have you ever wanted to throw your own comic bursts around? Well, you’re in luck. That is exactly what the Comic plugin will let you do. I’m not entirely sure of a legitimate use for this, but it sure is fun.
When you open the OmniDazzle application you’ll see a cover flow view of the available plugins. The cover flow view will actually show you a preview of what the plugin actually does. The active plugin will show you a quick snippet about what it does along with the currently set activation method under the Info tab.
The configuration settings can be adjusted under the Configuration tab as you would have guessed. Under the Comic plugin you’ll have the option to set the activation method and also add and delete bursts. You can also adjust the size and shadow effect if you’d like to as well.
The Flashlight plugin is a great tool for emphasizing in a presentation or screen capture type scenario. When activated the background will go dark and you’ll be left with a flashlight following around your mouse pointer.
I say that the background will go dark, but this is only by default. The plugin is customizable and the colors and sizes of both the flashlight and the background can be set to just about anything.
This plugin when activated turns your display into a place to scribble. You’re able to scribble on any piece of your desktop or on top of any application. Your mouse is turned into a pen.
You can switch back and forth between four pens, and the size and colors are fully customizable. Shortcut keys are set for each color along with one combination to clear the screen. There isn’t an erase function which could be frustrating in certain situations.
As with most of the other plugins that are a part of OmniDazzle this one could be very handing for making some quick notations during a presentation or a class. It’s not possible to save your scribbles (you could do a screenshot I suppose) so it is best used for a quick note to point something out.
The Waves plugin is excellent, and a mildly entertaining way quickly locate your mouse pointer. When activated you’ll see a series of waves spread originating at the location of your pointer. It really is a pretty cool way to let you know where your pointer is, but it is also a bit fun to just play around with. As usual it’s fully customizable. The radius, wavelength, and amplitude are all adjustable along with the usual activation method.
The Zoom plugin allows you to do a quick and dirty zoom in on anything displaying on your Mac. When activated a crosshair is turned on and you’re able to drag and select an area to zoom in on.
A possible application for this plugin would be to take a quick closer look at an image or perhaps better illustrate a bit of code for a screen recording or a presentation as in the example above.
I ran through some of the available enhancements that are a part of OmniDazzle hoping to illustrate what the application really does. There are others that I didn’t cover in this article that are both useful and fun, but these where the ones that stood out to me.
This is a niche product, but I think it can fit a lot more needs than are completely obvious. Though it is fun to just play around with, it’s a very well designed application and does certainly have many possible uses.
The core benefit of the effects these plugins provide is adding some enhancement to your screen and mouse pointer. They can be very useful in presentation and educational situations and they can also provide some additional functionality for the visually impaired. The ability to quickly zoom in on anything on the screen or quickly locate the mouse pointer can be more beneficial that some of us may realize.
OmniDazzle is a free application and is definitely worth checking out if you have a spare five minutes!