My Leopard’s Look: part III

In this series, entitled “My Leopard’s Look”, I talk about the different aspects of customising the appearance of Mac OS X “Leopard”: icons, the Dock and wallpapers, and finally theming.
Check Part I of this series to read about icons, and Part II to read about the Dock and wallpapers.


I never was interested in themes under Tiger (Mac OS 10.4), partly because I had a 1999 G3 iMac, and partly because the only tool “average users” could use to apply themes was Unsanity’s ShapeShifter (which came at a hefty price for a student, and which is a “haxie” that requires “Application Enhancer” [APE] to run, and APE has caused me a couple of problems in the past).

Then Leopard came along, and while I was very happy with the new unified metal look for all applications, the blue aqua (scrollbars, list headers, …) was starting to feel old.
So I decided to take a look at Leopard theming options.

It turns out that Apple has completely changed the way OS X draws the User Interface (UI) in Leopard, because it hopes to move towards resolution independence (something you can see in action here).
But we’re not there yet, and so Leopard uses a number of old and new sources of data to draw this UI (when resolution independence isn’t enabled – if you wish to try out resolution independence, Vector UI instructions are here).

Since the 18th of May, it is possible to theme (in great part) Leopard, by replacing images found within these different sources, thanks to the release of ArtFileTool, a tool to complement ArtTools and ThemePark.
If you are interested in theming, by using these different tools, I strongly recommend heading over to the MacThemes Wiki.

But for the average user, who doesn’t want to spend hours replacing images (trust me, this kind of time is required), what are the possibilities?

Right now, there are no “full theme” options, because theme developers are only starting to get things done with the aforementioned tools.
But if you’re interested, there are already partial themes, and there are a number of themes in development.

First of all, I’d like to mention a way to “iTunesify” your Leopard. If you prefer the iTunes look to standard Aqua scrollbars, progress bars and list headers, this kind of change is possible:
Peter's Leopard (click for full-size)

To do so, read this post. It contains links to all the required files, step-by-step installation instructions and even an installer package.
A more complete “iLeopard” theme has been released in the works.

Another partial theme is a scrollbar replacement, Ether (and an Ether-inspired theme is also in the works).

Other themes in development for Leopard include Metal Muku, Kaer and Siro.

Unfortunately, as you can see, the list isn’t very long. Yet.
Given time, a number of themes will appear to feed some spice to your Leopard.
And, a little note to (would-be) developers: a new tool to make this whole image replacement business easier is in the works, a sort of “ThemePark for Leopard”. Keep an eye out for Architect & Façade.

That’s it for this series on Leopard customisation. Hopefully, you will have learnt something useful and have found this interesting.
If you have any questions, do leave a comment, or send an e-mail address to the address on the “About” page.

Edit: updated 14th of November to reflect some recent developments.

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