Peeking Under Your Mac’s Hood with Secrets

One of Apple’s selling points for its Macintosh Operating System is “it just works”. For the most part,that is true. Things just work and you go happily along being more productive while OS X takes care of all that stuff Apple thinks you needn’t worry about. Not only is Apple confident that you won’t want to peak “under the hood”, they don’t even bother to tell you where it is or even if your Mac has one.

Enter Secrets, a handy little application that not only allows you to peek under the hood, but you can change things too. Installing Secrets adds an icon in your System Preferences.

and from there you can look at or change some of the hidden settings on your mac and for some 3rd party applications installed on your Mac. Caution: changing some of the setting could potentially mess things up and so you change them at your own peril. But this post would be way less interesting if we stopped here. So let’s check out what Secrets is all about.

Secrets is essentially a database of hidden settings for Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard) and it is updated when new settings are discovered. Some settings have been found but no one is sure what they do, that is besides Apple. However, many settings and what they control have been discovered and Secrets will tell you everything it knows. When you start up Secrets, it takes you to its ‘Top Secrets’, or in other words, the most popular ones. On the left is a list of applications with settings Secrets knows about. On the bottom are a few buttons, the first is ‘Update Secrets’ where Secrets will update its database. The ‘Revert’ button changes the settings back to what they were (if you changed something by accident). Let’s look at an example.

The first item on my ‘Top Secrets’ list is ‘Login Window Desktop Picture’. At the bottom of the list is a description saying this is the location of the desktop picture shown when you login. Leopard owners should all be familiar with the pink aurora picture by now. In fact, this is where you can change it. If you click on the right hand column, it will bring up a finder dialog where you can choose a new picture. Let’s go from this:

to this:

and you now have something different to look at when your Macbook is starting up. There are hundreds of settings you can look at or change and Secrets is a very easy way to access them. So should you feel like you want to change your Mac ever so slightly from your friends and family, grab yourself a copy of Secrets and enjoy. Don’t forget to drop us a note of any changes you made on our new forums.