Lion Designer lets you customize the Mission Control, Dashboard, Launchpad folder and the login screen background as well as the Launchpad folder icon. The developer suggests using PNG images that are at the resolution of your screen or are images that can tile – otherwise you’ll end up with something that looks messy. Though if you don’t like how something looks after you’ve changed it, or something has gone wrong, you can easily click the reset button and Lion Designer will return it to the stock look. I gave the app a quick spin and found it worked fine, with my Dashboard now displaying the familiar and soothing linen pattern. Lion Designer is available for free, but be sure to send over a small donation to Wette if you find the app useful to you.
If you’re looking for some other apps to tweak and customise OS X Lion, have a look at these apps that we have covered in the past:
Lion Tweaks – Lets you turn various features in Lion on or off, examples include removing the system Window animation, disable spelling correction, enable permanent scrollbars and many more.
Launchpad is somewhat of a controversial feature addition in Lion, it is arguably the most blatant example of iOS’ influence on OS X (and some would say the worst example of iOS’ influence). A lot of the criticism stems from the fact it displays every application that is located on your Mac – you really don’t want to have an Adobe Creative Suite or Microsoft Office because Launchpad will display icons from every app contained in those software packages.
Earlier this month we wrote about Launchpad-Control, which allowed you to hide applications from Launchpad (without deleting or uninstalling the application) using a simple checkbox list of all your apps. Hiding apps from Launchpad is about as far as Launchpad-Control goes and whilst that will be enough for many, some may be wanting some more control of Launchpad to properly utilise its potential. Enter LaunchpadCleaner 2, which allows you to hide apps from Launchpad, organise them, rename them and quite a bit more.
A good analogy of LaunchpadCleaner 2 would be that it works in a simple way to how iTunes can organise an iOS device’s homescreen but for Launchpad on your Mac. Some of the more advanced features of LaunchpadCleaner 2 include the ability to make a backup of your layout, transfer a Launchpad layout to other Macs and the ability to simply restore to the default Launchpad layout. The only real negatives of LaunchpadCleaner 2 that I experienced was that it was a little slow at times, which may be related to the fact that it is an Adobe Air application. The other downside is that you can’t drag the application icons to rearrange them in a specific order – although this isn’t too problematic because Launchpad itself can do this task easily.
LaunchpadCleaner 2 is available for $4.99 from Zoltan Borne, however he has kindly offered MacStories readers a promo code to get the app for free. The first 20 readers that will use the code “MACSTORIESNET” (without quotes) from the app’s Buy window will be upgraded to the Pro version for free. To do so, download the app, click on Buy, then click on “Do you have a Promotional Code?” and enter the promo code. Zoltan also offers a free version of LaunchpadCleaner 2, although there are a few limitations with this version.
Change the Launchpad Folder Background Image in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion
Tired of the linen background image of folders in Launchpad? You can easily change it to anything you want with this simple walkthrough…. you have to use a PNG file, so find one that you want as the new Launchpad folder background image.
Remember when we pointed you to a nine step process that taught you how to change your Dashboard and Mission Control backgrounds? You can even change the background of your Launchpad wallpaper thanks to OS X Daily, whom ask that you prepare a PNG (hopefully one that tiles nicely) before walking through the five required steps. You’re basically just swapping out an image with another image via the Finder, which makes backing up the resource you’re replacing pretty easy. I’d create a backup folder in your user folder before making any changes — that way you have all of the old resources in one rememberable location.
Remember when Leopard came out in 2007? Apple quickly refreshed their line of MacBooks to include a new keyboard layout to accommodate the changes made in Lion. The Exposé and Dashboard keys were added, and integration with OS X 10.5 and 10.6 has remained until now. As of Lion and the new MacBook Airs, Apple has introduced Mission Control and Launchpad keys, while removing the Dashboard key from its F4 spot.
MacTrast is giving us a glimpse at Apple’s new packaging for their MacBook line that reveals the Lion desktop, Andromeda Galaxy. Manuals are also being updated to accommodate the new OS and Apple is removing the install disc. As for MacBooks (and as spotted before), Apple is tweaking keyboards to fit the new functions. Previous Macs should soon be updated to come with Lion preinstalled. As before, Apple is keeping the packaging elegant and is pursuing reducing the amount of clutter to be found in box.
One concern that MacTrast noted is that while MacBooks are coming without the install disc, they don’t include the ability to install Lion over-the-air (likely this ability will come with a hardware revision to the MacBook Pro line). Apple will offer a USB thumb drive in the future for $69 to users who want to maintain their own machines, and only the current MacBook Air and Mac Mini include Internet Recovery for users who need to reinstall OS X in case of a failure — Apple is encouraging users to visit the Apple store for hardware failures.
A problem I have with Launchpad (and the SpringBoard on iOS) is that while you can rearrange and group apps, sometimes you just want to hide apps or get rid of them completely. This is possible on iOS via a Jailbreak, but how can we hide unnecessary apps and folders in Launchpad on the Mac? Andreas Ganske’s Launchpad-Control is your ticket to greater control.
Launchpad-Control is super simple to use. Download it, unzip the archive, and drag the icon to your Applications folder in your Finder’s sidebar. When you open Launchpad-Control, you’re presented with a list of all the apps displayed in your Launchpad. Simply uncheck the folders or apps you don’t want to see, click Apply, then wait as your dock is killed and comes back into view. When you own open Launchpad, all of the apps you wanted to hide will no longer be active. It’s so simple to use, but fair warning: using this app comes at your own risk!
You can download Launchpad-Control from http://chaosspace.de/. Remember to donate if you find this free utility useful!
Launchpad is a feature of the upcoming Lion operating system that will allow users to have quick access to all their apps and folders through an iPad-like overlay interface. A few weeks ago, we saw developers already trying to imitate this functionality on Snow Leopard as I covered QuickPick, an app that brings a Launchpad-like UI to OS X 10.6. Plus, a new widget by Junecloud, takes a similar approach to QuickPick but it’s free and works with the system’s Dashboard.
Plus can turn anything into a Dashboard widget. That’s right: a widget to create other widgets; sort of meta, and it works. You can in fact drop multiple instances of Plus on to the Dashboard, and make each one a different shortcut to something else. Like an app, a screenshot, a document, a web address or a folder. Anything that you can drag out of the Finder can be dropped into Plus and become a widget of its own; Plus even lets you decide the size of the item’s preview. With a bit of organization and time, you can thus turn the Dashboard into a grid of most used apps and shortcuts, although you won’t be able to expand folders within the overlay the way we’ve seen in the Launchpad preview.
All things considered, Plus is a cool widget that’s being given away for free and definitely works as expected. Give it a try.
One of the most intriguing features of Lion that Apple previewed at its “Back to the Mac” event in October was, in my opinion, the Launchpad. In pure iPad fashion, Launchpad will be “a home for your apps”, with fast and easy access to software downloaded from the Mac App Store, or folders created to better organize these apps. It all looks like an iPad’s Springboard brought to the Mac, with pages and iOS-like folders.
QuickPick, a $9.99 app available on the Mac App Store, brings some of the features we’ll see on Lion’s Launchpad this summer to OS X now. QuickPick lets you access apps and folders through an overlay interface that will sit on top of your currently opened apps, Finder windows and Spotlight searches. Once installed, QuickPick can be invoked either through a keyboard shortcut, a click on its dock icon or an active OS X corner. As QuickPick’s grid comes in the foreground, you’ll be able to arrange apps and create pages for your most used apps, folders or documents. Almost any file that can be dragged out of the Finder can be taken into QuickPick’s grid. In the app, you can adjust the grid’s spacing and text size. You can even create multiple pages of apps / documents thanks to a “Page Dock” that allows you to set up as many “grids” as you want. Alternatively, you can move between pages with a three-finger swipe. Again, just like the Launchpad in Lion.
QuickPick, of course, doesn’t bring all the features and details we saw demoed in Launchpad, such as the iOS folders or page indicators. If you drag a folder from the Finder to QuickPick, in fact, that folder won’t open in-app but will launch a new Finder window instead. I guess it’s a fair trade-off, considering that this app is running on Snow Leopard and we haven’t seen enough of Launchpad anyway. Still, everything’s smooth and works just as advertised.
QuickPick is available at $9.99 in the Mac App Store, and it gives us a taste of things to come in Lion by providing an alternative solution for OS X 10.6. Will Launchpad be different and more refined come Lion’s public release? For sure. But until then, you should give QuickPick a try. Check out our brief demo video of the app below. (more…)