Change the default text for pretty much anything in OS X

By tweaking one file within the System folder, it is possible to change almost any string of text that appears in Mac OS X. Amongst the endless possibilities are things like the default new folder name and the suffix added to duplicates and aliases. You can customize things like the categories in the iTunes and Finder sidebars or the System Preferences categories, or, for a bit of fun, you can change the the message you get when an application crashes.

Change the default new folder name

Untitled Folder
When you create a new folder in the Finder, it is automatically named "untitled folder". This annoyingly buries deep within a list when sorted alphabetically, rather than at the top or the bottom where it is easy to find. Luckily, it is surprisingly simple to change it.

First, navigate to Macintosh HD/System/Library/CoreServices. In here, locate the Finder application. Right-click (Control-click) on it, and choose "Show Package Contents" from the contextual menu. In the window that appears, navigate through to Contents/Resources/English.lproj. A quick way of navigating here (you might end up doing it a few times) is to use the "Go to Folder" option in the Go menu. In the box that appears, paste the following line:


Find the file named "Localizable.strings" and drag it to the Desktop to make a copy. We are going to edit this copy on the desktop, and then copy it back into the English.lproj folder to replace the original version. You might want to make an additional copy of the file as a backup, just in case anything goes wrong.

Open up the desktop version of the localizable.strings file using TextEdit. Scroll down to the line that starts with N2. it should say the following:

"N2" = "untitled folder";

Now you can change the words "untitled folder" to anything you want. For something at the start of the alphabet, you could simply put "*untitled folder*".

Once you are done, save the file on the desktop and quit TextEdit. Finally, drag the file back to the English.lproj folder that you copied it from. Click Authenticate and type in your administrator password.

For changes to take place, you will have to relaunch the Finder, which can be done by holding down Control and Option, clicking the Finder icon in the Dock, and choosing Relaunch from the menu.

Suffixes for duplicates and aliases

These are done in exactly the same way as the new folder tip above. Only this time, change line N3 for aliases, or N4 for duplicates.

In these cases, "^0" takes the place of the original file name. So, for a duplicate, the default is "^0 copy", meaning the duplicate of "file.doc" is "file copy.doc". As above, you can change this to anything you want. "copy of ^0" would mean the duplicate would work better with file extensions, giving "copy of file.doc". However, it wouldn't be next to the original file alphabetically.

Remember to relaunch the Finder when you are done.

Shorten the Finder's 'Show Item Info' text

One of the features I like about Mac OS X is the "Show item info" check box located in the View Options of the Finder. This works for all windows in icon view, and is therefore especially useful on the desktop. However, one problem with it is the text for Hard Drives is too long, unless you make the text size really small.

You can solve this problem by editing the same localizable.strings file as above. Carry out the steps exactly the same, but search for the line "IV9" = "^0 free";. The best way to change this is to get rid of the word free, just leaving "IV9" = "^0";. You can see the result below.


Remove default Genres in iTunes

iTunes comes with a long list of genres, some of which many people will never use. Occasionally this may become annoying, for example when using the autofill feature.

To remove some of the genres, you have to edit the localizable.strings file within iTunes, rather than within the Finder. You can find this by going to iTunes in the applications folder, right-clicking and choosing "Show Package Contents". In here, navigate to Contents/Resources/Englihs.lproj where you will find the localizable.strings file. As before, you will have to copy it to your desktop before editing.

Open up the file in TextEdit. You'll find the list of genres under the line /* ===== Genres ===== */. To remove a genre, don't bother deleting it, just in case you ever want it back. Simply "comment" out the line, by putting a /* at the start, and a */ at the end. For example, to remove Techno, you will simply replace the line with /* "9200.019" = "Techno"; */.

As always, quit and reopen iTunes for changes to take effect.

Change the iTunes sidebar labels

The most obvious reason for wanting to do this is if you would prefer the labels to be lowercase. Using the same localizable.strings file as in the genre tip above, find the following lines:

"135.011" = "LIBRARY";
"135.012" = "DEVICES";
"135.013" = "STORE";
"135.014" = "PLAYLISTS";

You can change these to anything you want, or simply remove the capitalization.

Change the Finder's sidebar labels

You can do exactly the same thing in the Finder's sidebar. The file you need to edit is localizableCore.strings, located in exactly the same place as the localizable.strings file inside the Finder application. The lines you want to change are the following:

"SD5" = "DEVICES";
"SD6" = "SHARED";
"SD8" = "PLACES";

Customize System Preferences

All the System Preferences panes are grouped into five categories - Personal, Hardware, Internet and Network, System and Other. It is quite easy to change these category names by going inside the System Preferences package, which is in the Applications folder. Inside it, navigate to the English.lproj folder inside the Resources folder. In here, find a file named NSPrefPaneGroups.strings and drag it to your desktop. Now open this file up in TextEdit and you'll see the following lines:

"personal" = "Personal";
"digitalHub" = "Digital Hub";
"hardware" = "Hardware";
"net" = "Internet & Network";
"system" = "System";
"addons" = "Other";

Don't change the words on the left, these are the ones used by System Preferences. You can change the words on the right. These are the ones displayed in the System Preferences window. Just make sure you don't delete any quotes or semicolons. Also, ignore the "Digital Hub" entry. This isn't used anymore and is probably just left over from a previous version of the operating system.

Now save the file and drag it back to the English.lproj folder from the Desktop. You will have to Authenticate this action with your administrator password.

Dock Menu items

For a bit of fun (I can't see why else) you can change the items in the menus you get when right-clicking on icons in the Dock. The Dock application is located in /System/Library/CoreServices. Right-click on it and choose "Show Package Contents". In the window that appears, navigate to Contents/Resources/English.lproj where you will find DockMenus.strings. Copy this file to the desktop to edit it.

Some of the lines you might want to edit are the "Application Not Responding" and "Force Quit" lines to something more reflective of the feeling you get when you see them.

Change Unexpectedly Quit message

With some tinkering it is possible to customize Mac OS X alert messages and dialog box text. For a bit of fun, you can change the message that appears when an application crashes to something more humorous.

Open up your hard drive and navigate to /System/Library/CoreServices. Find the Crash Reporter package and open it by right-clicking and choosing Show Package Contents.

In the window that appears, navigate to Contents/Resources/English.lproj and find Localizable.strings. Copy it to your Desktop and open it up in TextEdit. Near the bottom of the file you will see the line -

/* Unexpectedly quit dialog */

In the lines that follow this it is fairly obvious how to change the message. The symbol "%@" will make the message display the crashed Application's name, and "\n" will make a line break. Save the file and then copy it back to the package to replace the old version. You will have to enter your administrator password.

Unexpectedly Quit Message

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