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  9-05-03 | This column originally appeared in the Houston Chronicle.


Unsanity “Haxies” Better than Ever


By Bob LeVitus

It’s been over a year since the last time I mentioned any of Unsanity’s excellent and reasonably priced utilities (they call ‘em “haxies”). Since then, most (if not all) of the haxies have been updated, upgraded, bug-fix-ated, or otherwise improved, and a couple of new ones have been introduced.

My favorite is still WindowShade X. Why Apple saw fit to remove this fantastic OS 9 feature from OS X is still a mystery to me, but quite honestly, Unsanity’s WindowShade X 3.0 is better than any of the Apple versions ever were. Much better.

Of course WindowShade X offers the classic effect it’s named for: Double-click the title bar of any window and it “rolls up” like a window shade, so only its title bar remains on screen. But WindowShade X also has several unique and useful features never seen in the Apple versions of old.

My favorite of these was introduced in the latest version. They call it “Minimize-in-Place,” and I’ve been using it a lot more than the traditional window shade effect these past few weeks. When you apply it to a window, the window shrinks down and becomes, essentially, a floating icon. You can specify the size and opacity of minimized-in-place windows, and enable magnification (similar to the Dock’s) if you prefer, which I don’t. You also have the option of having the minimized window display the application icon of its parent application, and can configure it so when you mouse over a minimized-in-place window you see its name and/or the application that owns it. You can drag the mini-windows anywhere on screen and there’s even an option to automatically arrange your minimized windows along any edge of the monitor.

I love it.

Another great feature of WindowShade X is the ability to make windows transparent. This is another feature not available in the OS 9 windowshade and a useful one at that. I use it almost as much as I use minimize-in-place. In fact, I can’t remember what life was like without it.

Other fantastic haxies include Labels X, which brings OS 9’s colored file and folder labels to OS X; Xounds, which brings back OS 9’s Appearance sounds; and Fruit Menu, which gives you a fully configurable Apple menu, just like we had in (you guessed it) OS 9.

All of the above haxies can be tried for free, and cost just $10 each to purchase. But Unsanity also offers a handful of free haxies you might find useful:

ClearDock changes the Dock background color; Menu Extra Enabler lets you use third-party Menu Extra modules; Dock Detox stops application icons from bouncing in the Dock; Cee Pee You shows your CPU load in the menubar; and ShadowKiller removes the windows and menu shadows completely to speed up slower Macs.

By the way, while haxies look like shareware and are distributed like shareware, Unsanity avoids the use of the “s” word, referring to their wares as “commercial quality software at affordable prices, distributed mainly through the Internet.” I find that a fair assessment.

As much as I like OS X, I like it even better with the addition of WindowShade X and Fruit Menu. I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again now: You can have my Unsanity haxies when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers.

If you’ve never used Unsanity’s reasonably priced haxies, there’s never been a better time. They’re better than ever, so download one (or more) and give it a try. You won’t be sorry.

Unsanity LLC. Somewhere in Utah with employees “all over the world.” No phone number listed.

Bob LeVitus is a leading authority on Mac OS and the author of 41 books, including The Little iTunes Book and Mac OS X for Dummies, 2nd Edition. E-mail comments to [email protected].

Copyright © 2004 Bob LeVitus



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