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First Look: MacPilot, Mac OS X tweaking utility

updated 12:20 pm EST, Thu December 18, 2008

First Look: MacPilot

You can customize any good operating system, and Mac OS X is no exception. While the System Preferences window lets you tweak components like the desktop or audio output, many more customizable features of the OS are hidden away. To get at these buried settings the most immediate solution is to enter cryptic commands into Terminal, but if you'd rather modify a Mac using a familiar point-and-click interface, take a look at MacPilot.

The interface displays icons in a left-hand panel, which lets you select components to modify such as Dashboard, Finder or Time Machine. In addition to modifying common Mac OS X elements, the app also lets you adjust separate software including BBEdit, CyberDuck, Pages, Numbers and iPhoto.

To edit a setting, users click on an icon in the left-hand panel, and select an item to change in the main panel at right. Many of these can only be altered through an app like MacPilot, such as adding a Cut command when using the Finder, or disabling the translucent Menu Bar in Leopard.

Besides letting you customize various programs, the utility also provides a convenient list of startup items. Here you can see which programs are running in the background, gobbling up memory while slowing your computer down at the same time. The purpose of course is to turn a startup program off, or prevent it from starting up at all.

Another feature is the ability to extract Intel or PowerPC code from a Universal Binary file. This can trim down your apps without affecting functionality, although you do need to be aware that many programs can't update themselves in the future once you strip away a portion of the program.

Power users should find that MacPilot will help customize Macs to work exactly the way they want. Novices may also find the program handy for tweaking, perhaps in a way that makes using a standard Mac suddenly seem foreign and limiting. If you're looking for wizards or other tools to make the program easier, though, you won't find them. As a result, the sheer number of options available may overwhelm a beginner. When faced with a screen full of buttons, choosing the right option can be more difficult than necessary.

Still, if you like the idea of modifying your Mac without the pain of typing commands into Terminal, a 15-day trial of MacPilot is available. Once you see the hidden features the app can open up, you may find its $19.95 pricetag a good deal.

by MacNN Staff



  1. bredlo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Looks scary

    Maybe this'll be useful to people who already know how to navigate around the inner-workings of the OS, but despite the familiar interface and friendly buttons, NO THANKS.

    I'll be satisfied with whatever options Apple gives me, and express my creativity through Photoshop and GarageBand!

  1. miawj

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Easily pleased

    If only more Mac customers were like Bredlo.

    Photoshop users - embrace glossy screens. Garageband users - celebrate the removal of Firewire. Be satisfied with whatever Apple gives you!

  1. dynsight

    Joined: Dec 1969



    most of these are accessible through a decent plist editor, correct? Or does this program provide access to other aspects of the the program that go beyond property list?

  1. macupdate

    Joined: Dec 1969


    MacPilot bundle discount

    This deal ends today (the 18th) but you can get MacPilot and over $400 of other software (Like Drive Genius) for $49.99 over at:

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969



    A huge percentage of what this $20 thing does are also done by the excellent free Secrets from

  1. resuna

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Tinkertool, too.

    Most of these are already editable via Tinkertool, too. There's a plethora of tweaker utilities for OSX.

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