Unlock Hidden Mac OS X Settings With Secrets

Mac OS X is a wonderful operating system with one of the best and easiest to use graphical interface among mainstream operating systems. It is amazing to see how much thought the designers of the OS have put into each element of the interface striving all the while to make it easier for the user to use the computer without bringing in any complexity, and retaining the ability to configure the computer as the user wishes.

But, there is still so much more that OS X is capable of and it is not always possible to harness all that power from the Graphical interface, and that is where our application of the day, Secrets, comes in handy.

Secrets installs in the System Preferences Pane and provides you access to hundreds of hidden OS X settings. Almost all of these settings can be accessed from the command line also and if you’re a regular follower of the Mac OS tips website, Mac OSX Hints, you might have come across some of them earlier. But, with the hundreds of hidden settings that Secrets unlocks, you’re bound to find some that you’ve never come across and will find useful.

To install Secrets, just download the zip file, extract it and double click the Secrets.prefPane file that is a part of the zip archive.

secrets prefpane install

Now, you can just click on the icon in System Preferences and OS X will launch Secrets.

Secrets divides all the settings into various categories that are displayed in a vertical sidebar on the left side of the window. This classification makes it easy to find what you’re looking for. For example, if you want to change the dock style from the default 3D type to the older 2D style dock, just click on Dock in the left sidebar and select the 2D style from the drop down menu under Dock Appearance.

Secrets change dock appearance

If you follow the popular OS X blogs, you’d recall that this particular setting was widely published for users who wanted to go back to the older Dock style when Apple decided to change the default Dock appearance to the 3D style in OS X 10.5. I, on the other hand, actually like the 3D look more so that’s what I keep.

How about something more useful?

One of the features of OS X that I use most often is Quick Look. This feature lets you quickly preview a document right from the Finder without even opening the document. The feature works even if you don’t have the required application installed, and Apple has been nice enough to bundle plugins for the most common type of documents along with OS X.

I use Quick Look all the time to read Word and Power point documents even though I don’t even have Microsoft Office installed on my system.

By default, if I use Quick Look on a folder all it tells me is the size of the folder and the number of files in it.

secrets quick look

The two Finder settings that I like to enable using Secrets is to let Finder display hidden files and enable the Quick Look X-ray folders which enables Quick Look to display thumbnails of all the items inside the folder.

Secrets x-ray configuration

Changing the above settings require you to restart Finder. You can do so by clicking the Quit This button at the bottom of the window.

Now, whenever you use Quick Look to view a folder, you’ll see thumbnail images of all the documents inside the folder. Isn’t that cool ?

Secrets xray

Go ahead and use Secrets to customize OS X as you see fit. Let us know which are your favorite Secrets.


  1. Might be a good idea to mention to readers that they have to click on the Pref Pane link on the Secrets website. I went there looking for Secrets package to download.

  2. waw…halpeful this tutorial

Comments are closed.