Prestissimo (freeware) by PolyMorph Software Development
The Prestissimo Control Panel
There are new features are everywhere in MacOS 8.5. Not all of them are easy to find. As a matter of fact, some are impossible to find. That's right, there are some very neat tricks 8.5 can only do with the help of obscure applescript commands. If you're an applescript wiz, you've probably already found these hidden settings and tweaked them yourself. For the rest of us, a freeware utility called Prestissimo will do the job.
When you pull down the application menu in 8.5 and keep pulling down, you'll notice that it tears off into a palette that's always available and floats above all your other programs. It makes for a very handy way to switch the active program in one click. Chances are you won't like to leave it open like that, though. If only it were a little bit smaller/longer/taller/whatever, it would be perfect...
Prestissimo lets you do just about anything to the palette you can think of, all in a very simple panel that you can open and use anytime. Even if you can't stand having the palette taking up space on your screen, Prestissimo can help you jump between active programs. The extension that lets you tear off your application menu also lets you use hotkeys to switch to the next or previous program running. By default, you do this with command-tab. Using Prestissimo you can choose any combination you want.
As an added bonus, Prestissimo lets you fine tune your scrollbars in ways the Appearance control panel won't let you. Instead of having to choose between the old style and the new "smart" scrollbars, you get full control. Choose single arrows at each end, double arrows at each end, or double arrows at one end. Turn proportional scrollbars on or off at will. It may sound unimportant, but the tweaks you make with Prestissimo can have a huge impact on how your computer handles. And the price is right.
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John is a software engineer who works in the corporate R&D group of a Fortune 500 company, focusing on all aspects of communications technology. He has several degrees that claim he knows what he's doing when it comes to computers. After watching co-workers reinstall Windows, search for device drivers, and experience other horrors during the day, he's glad that he comes home to a Mac (compatible) computer. Have any comments, suggestions, or favorite Gadgets? Drop John a line at