Hacking The Interface Of Programs 2

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Hacking The Interface Of Programs

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This isn’t really a hack but a method to change the way program looks. It uses the Interface Builder used in applications to change the way a program looks. It is very simple, but if there is an annoying aspect of a program you just want to change, or to confuse your friends this is a fun way to start. With this trick you can’t hack every program, or every feature of a program. It is fun and a good time waster if you are bored.

The way to access the interface files is to the .nib file. This is the file type used to display and configure the interface you see. Most of the time this .nib file is wrapped up within the executable. But every so often you can get access to these files and change them. For this post I am going to use Mail. Find Mail in you Applications folder and show the package contents. Then navigate to Resources > English.lproj or any language you use. These are the localization files. It just happens that Mail has these files as seperate .nib files.

You then open them up. This will only work if you have interface builder installed. Interface Builder is located as part of the Developer Tools and is found on you Leopard installation disk. For this post I am going to open MailViewer.nib. Interface Builder is easy to use on the face of it, but has hundreds of small options for the programmer. Talking about them all is really out of the scope of this tutorial. But you can move, resize and possibly delete items on the interface. Just be careful, since any changes you make could break the application. So back it up. I’ve had a quick mess about and moved the menu bar items around.


To save any changes simply press save and restart the application.


Admittedly this isn’t the best trick or tip in the world, but it is fun. If you really want to go indepth I recommend you find some open source applications and have a poke around at their code to see how it all works.


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