Make OS X More Awesome With MacUtil

Maybe you’re the kind of person who can’t leave well enough alone and are always customizing OS X. Or maybe you’re the opposite, maybe you want to have that same sort of devil may care attitude but are afraid of digging a hole so deep, even Spotlight can’t find you.

I’ve been in both camps, and while I definitely prefer to be in full control of the experience on my Mac, I don’t want to get myself into a bad situation either. MacUtil, a neat little OS X tweaking app, can help both groups: those who love to personalize their OS and those who don’t know where to start.

A Custom Job

The first tab in MacUtil is for the Dock, and there are as many Dock features to toggle on and off as for any of the other components. Make your Dock 2D, which I have to admit is probably my favorite Dock tweak. There are lots of other options here that are actually useful, though, like adding a recently used apps stack or placing a separator between Dock apps for organization.

There are a bunch of ways to customize your Dock.

There are a bunch of ways to customize your Dock.

The Finder tab has lots of great customizations, like making Finder quittable, searching the current folder by default, or disabling warnings when changing file extensions. I already had a lot of these tweaks implemented, and they can be a lot more useful than they might seem at first blush. OS X is great, but it brings with it a lot of little Finder nuisances, nuisances you may be able to rid yourself of at last.

User Interface and Misc are catchalls for everything else that doesn’t really fit into the Dock and Finder categories. Change how the scrollbars act (and occasionally disappear), disable Dashboard, and rid yourself of the crash reporter. Some of these options are actually pretty easy to find in System Preferences, but it’s nice to have them here.

Change how the OS X user interface works.

Change how the OS X user interface works.

Slow on the Uptake

That said, some MacUtil options seem a bit superfluous and even counter to increasing productivity. An example is toggling menu bar transparency. That’s easily changed in System Preferences, and if you don’t know where to look, you can use the System Preferences search function. However, you’ll find it in MacUtil, too, which would be fine if you didn’t have to log out every time you wanted to use MacUtil to change your menu bar’s transparency, completely unnecessary in System Preferences.

You'll have to confirm every change as you make it and even authenticate with your password.

You’ll have to confirm every change as you make it and even authenticate with your password.

MacUtil takes a few moments to implement each and every tweak. Yeah, every tweak is implemented individually. There may be a great reason for that and it’s keeping my Mac from breaking in two, but it would be stellar to be able to toggle four or five tweaks on and then hit OK or authenticate it or something, so I didn’t have to wait for MacUtil to do its thing after every single mouse click.

Maybe that’s something the developer can fix, though. He’s open to suggestions. There are requests for comment on the application website and a place for feedback right in the app. If there’s anything you don’t like or think is missing, let him know, because he’s actively developing MacUtil.

Making Things Easy

Pretty much all of this is available somewhere, somehow, in OS X already. It’s just not all as easy to get to as menu bar transparency. What MacUtil (and other apps of this type) does is make all of those OS X tweaks accessible for even the lay user. So if you’re not comfortable digging into Terminal and changing things you may not remember how to put back later, you can really make OS X what you want with MacUtil.

There are plenty of good things to do in MacUtil, and you can contact the developer if something's missing.

There are plenty of good things to do in MacUtil, and you can contact the developer if something’s missing.

I’m not someone who can leave a hornet’s nest unpoked, so OS X tweaking apps are old hat for me. I’ve been around the block a few times and done some wonderful–and terrible, funky–things to my Mac. MacUtil doesn’t have the most features I’ve seen, and in fact there’s not a ton here. That said, fewer features is okay. Most people aren’t going to need to customize the thousand and one things you can with a more robust app. In fact, too many options can be a turnoff for the uninitiated or even people who just want to get in and get out.

Final Thoughts

So MacUtil doesn’t have all of the features of, say, previously reviewed MacPilot. That’s probably okay. There are other tweaking apps that go way beyond the OS, but MacUtil keeps it pretty simple. Sure, there are people who want access to everything those over-the-top apps offer, and I’ll admit I’m one of those people, but lots of users will be intimidated by too many options.

Everything you really need is right there in MacUtil, and there’s just enough that you’ll never be overwhelmed. If the app’s missing something you want, though, just drop the developer a line and let him know. Still, as MacUtil stands now, it has plenty of great features, it’s easy to use, and it gets the job done.


Neat app to get to some simple OS X tweaks.