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Skinning Twitterrific for Mac

Jason Snell, | May 21, 2011
Not for the faint of heart: Jason Snell explains how to adjust Twitterrific's appearance by editing settings files.

I’ve tried a lot of Twitter apps in my day, but after spending time with the official Twitter Mac client and Victoria Wang’s $14 Hibari, I’m back with The Iconfactory’s $10 Twitterrific 4.1.

It was a bit of a bumpy ride, however: The new default color themes in Twitterrific didn’t really work for me. The normal-sized text was slightly too small (especially on my MacBook Air), but the large-sized text option was too big. The app’s dark color scheme appeals to me, but the light gray text on a dark gray background didn’t provide me with enough contrast to read comfortably. Like Goldilocks, I was searching for a bowl of porridge that was just right.

When I complained about this on Twitter, the Iconfactory’s brain trust let me have it. Those guys think a lot about this stuff, and the choices they made in their UI design were for very good reasons… they just didn’t work for me. While designer David Lanham did offer that he might try to lighten the dark text slightly in the app’s next revision, he suggested that if I really was bugged by the color schemes and font sizes, I could take matters into my own hands.

Understand: Twitterrific deeply limits a user’s customization choices on purpose. Their designers have carefully created two color schemes (Dark and Light) and chosen three sets of font sizes (Smaller, Normal, and Larger). That’s all the choice a regular user can make.

But irregular users like me can do crazy things, things that the developers of Twitterrific would never approve of. Horrible things. So I did. I cracked open the Twitterrific’s application package itself (by control-clicking the app in the Finder and choosing Show Package Contents) and began editing the text files inside that determine how Twitterrific looks.

Let me be clear: What follows is crazy stuff. Don’t do it if you’re not comfortable with cracking open a package and editing XML files. And make a backup copy of the app first. But if you’re curious about taking Twitterrific and modifying it, here’s how.


Inside the package.

Inside the Twitterrific app package, there’s a Contents folder, and inside there is a Resources folder. In there are the key files you need to edit, using TextEdit or any other text editor around: theme_dark.plist and theme_light.plist are the files that define the two color schemes; theme_desktop.plist, theme_desktop_smaller.plist, and theme_desktop_larger.plist are the files that determine font sizes at the Smaller, Normal, and Larger settings.


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