CrystalClear Interface (CCI) is a powerful system add-on that lets you customize certain aspects of the Mac OS X "Aqua" interface. The changes made possible by CCI fall within six distinct group:

  • The Frame (or style) of various window types.
  • Graphics options, including menubar and button styles, as well as an alternative set of document icons.
  • Transparency of foreground windows compared with those in the background or in other, inactive applications.
  • Color of windows and some text fields.
  • Miscellaneous Decorative settings, such as animations, shadows, and window "shine."
  • Miscellaneous Behavioral settings, such as Single Application Mode (SAM), window resizability, and toolbar customizability.

All of these features are accessed using the CCI Preferences Panel, which you can summon using the keyboard shortcut ⌘-' (command-apostrophe) or by accessing the CCI Global Menu. The global menu appears as a small, round icon in the menubar of any application in which CCI is loaded. The accompanying screenshot shows where CCI's menu appears in TextEdit.

What's New in CrystalClear Interface 2.8?

Note: CCI 2.8 is a free upgrade to those who purchased a license for either CCI 2.5 or 2.6 prior to May 10, 2012. A license for CrystalClear Interface 2.8 is $15.00 after a free 15-day trial period.

New features

  • Incorporates the Embossed Nickel button theme for Snow Leopard users.
  • Adds functionality to let users create and save their own custom window themes, in addition to the 10 built-in, preset themes.

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed bug in uninstaller alert message that appears when CCI is incompatible with installed OS.
  • Fixed code that could cause launch problems with iWork apps when verifying presence of AppMenu Magic. Reworked approach for determining presence of all MarsThemes plugins.
  • Fixed bug that could prevent an app's first window from being fully themed when user has turned Alpha values function off.
  • Fixed bug that failed to install a system graphics file for the glossy button theme on Mountain Lion.
  • Fixed bug that could cause CCI to fail to load when installed on Lion or Mountain Lion (due to absence of a ScriptingAdditions folder).

Other changes

  • Adds a new file, CustomThemes.plist, to the CCI application support folder for storing users' custom themes.

CCI Preference Settings

The CrystalClear Interface Preferences panel provides numerous ways to customize the way CCI themes your buttons, windows, etc. It consists of five tabs, each of which is described below.

Using Preset Themes

 CrystalClear Interface includes ten prebuilt themes with fanciful names, designed to complement the set of Frosted Crystal desktop pictures that are included in the CCI download package):

  • Black Gloss
  • Dark Fire
  • Dark Light
  • Emerald
  • Rose Garden
  • Sienna Shine
  • Smooth Black
  • Sunrise
  • Sunset
  • Teal Lover

To use one of these themes, simply click on the theme's thumbnail image from the CCI Preferences panel "Themes" tab, or from the CCI global menu's "Preset Themes" item. Doing so will instantly apply the settings from that theme to all of your open windows.

To save your own themes, define your theme by combining choices for window frames and colors and then click the "+" button on the Themes tab screen. Name your theme, and it will then be accessible via the popup menu for your custom themes. You can easily and quickly switch among your custom themes and the built-in preset themes. To switch to a custom theme, simply select it in the custom themes popup menu.

Changing Window Frames

CrystalClear Interface includes a variety of custom window frames that you can select for the various kinds of windows in Cocoa applications. There are 11 different frame styles, which you can apply separately to both regular windows and "panels" — a type of window that includes more Preferences windows as well as the main windows for System Preferences and Activity Monitor. In addition, you can use 3 different styles for sheets, and 4 for alerts.

You can change the frame styles at any time to suit your taste, also combining the styles with different window colors to achieve the window appearance you'd like. Selecting one of the preset themes also modifies frame styles for the different window types. To modify a frame style for a particular kind of window, first select the Frames tab from the CCI Preferences window and then the sub-tab corresponding to the different window types

Note about utility panels

  • Utility panels. Utility panels—such as the Font and Color panels, as well as Inspector panels for applications like Pages and iPhoto—are automatically themed in the translucent black Heads-Up Display ("HUD") style. These kinds of panels are not affected by changes you make in the Frames tabs.

Adjusting Window Transparency

Once installed, CrystalClear Interface is set with factory defaults that you can customize to suit your taste, as explained below. By default, CCI sets the alpha value (transparency) of front-most windows to 99.9%, that of background windows in your current application to 60%, and that of windows of your current application when it is "inactive" (if they appear at all) to 40%.

Main Alpha Settings

In this view, the sliders on the left control the level of transparency for different types of windows.

  • Sliders

    The setting you choose in each slider will be remembered and applied as a new default for your current application.

  • "Set As Default" Buttons

    Clicking a "Set As Default" button saves the slider's setting as a new default for all your applications.

  • Frontmost Windows

    The first slider settings control the transparency of your frontmost window (the one you're currently working in). This setting also controls the transparency of auxiliary panels, such as Inspectors and Font or Color panels, since they are programmed to match the main window's setting.

  • Background Windows

    The first slider settings control the transparency of your frontmost window (the one you're currently working in). This setting also controls the transparency of auxiliary panels, such as Inspectors and Font or Color panels, since they are programmed to match the main window's setting.

  • Background Application Windows

    The first slider settings control the transparency of your frontmost window (the one you're currently working in). This setting also controls the transparency of auxiliary panels, such as Inspectors and Font or Color panels, since they are programmed to match the main window's setting.

Advanced Alpha Settings

In many cases, you may find it convenient to change—either permanently or temporarily—the transparency setting of individual windows in an application. CCI gives you two ways of accomplishing this

  • Windows with Specific Titles.

    The upper section of the Advanced Alpha tab shows all of the titled windows in your current application. Click on any of these, and you can adjust its transparency using the slider below. The setting for this window becomes its unique default until you remove it, by moving the slider all the way to the left.

    Using this function, you can, for example, tell Safari to never to dim the Downloads window or the JavaScript Console window. Likewise, in iChat you may always want the buddy list window to remain (nearly) fully opaque. If a window always has the same title, this is a handy way to customize your CrystalClear Interface.

  • Windows of a Certain Size (But No Title).

    In some cases, you may want to customize the transparency of a window that has no title at all. You can use the settings in the bottom part of this tab for that. Simply select the checkbox, specify the size in x (width) and y (height) values, and set the slider. From then on, all windows with no titles that fit those dimensions will take on the transparency setting you've selected.

Customizing Colors

CrystalClear Interface lets you set custom colors (including transparency) for your windows and text backgrounds. The software sets some defaults when first installed, but you can change them to whatever values you like. (The quickest way to try some combinations out is to apply one of the preset themes.)

The Colors tab has six options. The top two are for text areas, and the bottom four are for windows.

  • Text backgrounds.

    The color selection here applies to areas of text that aren't editable but that have scrollbars.

  • Outline views.

    This color is applied to outline views, which typically have an expandable/collapsable tree structure.

  • Windows.

    Changing this color affects regular windows—those that aren't preference panels, utility panels (such as Fonts, Colors, and Inspectors), sheets, or alerts.

  • Panels.

    You can also set a different color for panels than for regular windows.

  • Sheets.

    This color is applied to sheet windows.

  • Alert panels.

    This color is applied to windows that pop up with alert-style messages. In addition, it's used on panels you use to open and save files.

Notes about colors

CCI makes some automatic adjustments to colors that are designed to enhance the beauty and consistency of the CrystalClear Interface experience. Some examples include:

  • Color picker. CCI adjusts the default Color Picker panel to let you adjust color transparency, even in apps that don't normally include such an option.
  • Boxes. CCI transforms traditional Mac OS X beveled box areas into rounded, colored ones. The box color is based on the window's current color.
  • Table rows. CCI dynamically changes the color of table rows—including those with alternating colors—to match your current window and text area colors.
  • CoverFlow views. CoverFlow views get themed with a dark background matching your current outline view color setting.

Customizing Graphics

The Graphics tab has four sub-tabs you can use to customize various graphic elements on your Mac.

  • Button Options. This tab lets you choose among six different button themes:
    • Gradient
    • Smooth Black
    • Glossy (Snow Leopard and Mountain Lion only)
    • Black Gloss
    • Embossed Nickel (Snow Leopard only)
    • Aqua 

    In addition, you can select options that change the appearance of popup buttons, file browsers, and scrollbars.

  • Menubar Options. In this tab, you can select different styles for the main menubar. Your options change depending on the button theme you're using. 
  • Crystal Documents Icons. CrystalClear Interface contains an installer (and uninstaller) for the Crystal Document icon set. These icons are designed to complement my set of Crystal Albook icons, released some years ago and based on the Albook icons designed by Laurent Baumann. In this tab, you can install icons for different categories:
    • Standard Mac OS X applications
    • Mac OS X developer tools
    • Apple's iWork suite
    • Supported third-party applications 

    To install icons, select a checkbox and press the "Install Crystal Docs Icons" button. To uninstall, deselect the checkbox for a category. If you uninstall CrystalClear Interface without also uninstalling any icon sets you've applied, the CCI uninstaller will remind you and provide an option to restore them to defaults.

    A "Preview" button lets you see the various icons that will be installed for each category.

  • Manage Installed Graphics. You can use the functions in this tab to reinstall or uninstall the custom graphics used by CCI for Applications, Preference panes, and System frameworks. Each button theme has a slightly different set of graphics, which you can see by using the popup button at the right of each category.

Notes about the Crystal Document icons

  • Source files. You can find both the zipped and the unzipped versions of all the Crystal Docs icons in the /Library/Application Support/MarsThemes/CCI/CrystalDocs folder. You can use these files to reinstall or to install manually. If you uninstall CCI, a copy of the Crystal Docs are added to your ~/Library/Application Support/MarsThemes/CCI/ folder.

Extra Options

This tab provides a variety of additional options for customizing your Mac's interface and functionality. These Extra options have been divided into four separate tabs, each covering a particular set of options: Paradigms, Fluff, Apps Mods, and "Other."

  • Alternate Interface Paradigms. This tab gathers CCI options that require you to Think Different about ways to use the Mac interface.
    • Single Application Mode (SAM). SAM's basic function is to automatically hide all other applications and their windows whenever you switch applications. This almost elimimates window clutter but still lets you bring windows of different apps together by holding the Shift key while selecting other apps in the Finder. You'll get the most out of SAM by using Mac OS X's built-in application switcher (⌘-Tab). Starting with CCI 2.5.7, this option is disabled by default because it takes some getting used to and isn't everyone's "cup of tea." However, SAM is provided as an option because it lets you get the most out of using CrystalClear Interface. Whether you end up using it as a default or not, I encourage you to give SAM a try. For a thorough description of Single Application Mode, refer to my March 2010 blog article, "The Ultimate Solution To Window Clutter: You Can Call Me SAM"
    • Suppress shadows for inactive windows. As one more aid to helping distinguish the front window from the others in your current app, as well as any visible windows from other running applications, CrystalClear Interface can eliminate shadows for any inactive windows. Click this checkbox to to turn this feature on.
    • Make windows resizable. Select this checkbox to add a "resize corner" to most of your windows.
    • Hide focus rings. This option lets you choose whether or not to show the blue or graphite "focus ring" surrounding the currently active text field or button. 
  • Interface Fluff. These options merely add gratuitous "fluff" to the interface.
    • Use window animations. If checked, this option enables a fade animation when your windows open, and a zoom animation when they close. Window animations are disabled by default, because they can seriously delay application launch on slower systems such as MacBooks or MacMinis. 
    • Blur window backgrounds. This option, enabled by default, applies a blur to the frontmost window to improve readability through semi-transparent areas. Note that this function may strain the graphics abilities of some older systems with less memory. In addition, even the latest Macs can experience some flickering when system memory runs low, with the blur function running. Note that a change to this feature only takes effect once you close and reopen any windows already open.
    • Window overlay options. You can use these options to decorate windows with one of two different kinds of "shine," or elect to have no shine at all.
  • Application-Specific Options. This tab provides a few options for customizing behavior of specific applications.
    • Split Mail's message viewer vertically. By default, Mail splits the message viewer horizontally, with the preview area at the bottom. Some prefer to split the viewer vertically, so that the mail preview area is on the right. This option lets you toggle between the two modes. 
    • Make Fresh show twice as many items. By default, the quick-access application Fresh shows two rows of very large icons for you to use and manage recent and favorite items. This option doubles the number of items and uses smaller icons.
    • Use black backgrounds in iTunes. Blah blah blah
    • Enable icon view transparency in Finder. Blah blah
  • Other Options. These options merely add gratuitous "fluff" to the interface.
    • Show application icon in menubar. By default, CCI replaces the name of Cocoa applications with the application's icon in the system menubar. This control lets you toggle that display. 
    • Make all toolbars customizable. Select this option if you want to be able to customize toolbars that normally aren't customizable. The most common type of window for which this is useful is an application's preferences panel. Normally, you can't change options for icon size, or for showing only icons or only text, etc., for such windows. But with this option turned on, you can.
    • Show CCI Global Menu in the menubar. By default, the global CCI menu icon appears in the main menu of all applications in which it's loaded. You can use this checkbox to move the CCI menu to the application's first submenu instead if you like.
    • Add CCI Global Menu in the window titlebar. Prior to CCI 2.5.8, this was the built-in default. With this function, if you right-click (control-click) on the titlebar, up pops the CCI menu. However, you may not want that, so here's is a way of option out.
    • Restore Default CCI Options. The button at the bottom of this tab will reset all of CCI's settings to their factory defaults. This includes any application-specific preferences you may have saved. If you click this button, you'll see a message reminding you of this and letting you opt out if you change your mind.

CCI Tools

The functions in this section have specific roles can help you manage the way CrystalClear Interface works.

  • Minimize/Maximize CCI for... This item lets you “minimize” CCI for your current application. Instead of completely disabling CCI for the application, minimizing preserves some aspects of CCI’s theming, such as etched text, transformation of utility panels into HUD style, some coloring, and a gradient window style. It also preserves access to the CCI global menu and all of its functionality. However, it disables all of the functions available in the CCI Preferences panel.
    So, why would you want to minimize CCI for a given application? Typically, you would take this step if an application has become unstable while running with CCI inside. Quite often, minimizing CCI will reduce or eliminate any instability and is a useful step to take before deciding to disable CCI for the app.
  • Disable CCI for... Selecting this function will relaunch your current application, after which it will run without loading CrystalClear Interface. You will no longer have access to the CCI global menu in this application, but you can use the CCI System Preferences pane to re-enable it if you wish. Using the global menu item to disable an application has the same effect as dragging it into the list of disabled applications in the pane's list, as described previously. 
  • Set Base Theme.  This option opens the "Customize A Base Theme" panel, which provides an interface for selecting all components of your CrystalClear Interface at one time. Here you can set your choices for button theme, menubar style, windows preset theme, and crystal desktop picture. Of course, you can change any of these individual settings later using the CCI global menu and the CCI Preferences panel. You can also open the panel using the keyboard shortcut ⌘⇧-' (command-shift-apostrophe)
  • Set Window Theme. This submenu lets you change among CCI's preset window style and color themes right from the global menu.
  • Set Crystal Desktop. Also in the CCI global menu, this submenu lets you change your desktop picture to one of the "Frosted Crystals" that come with CrystalClear Interface. These desktops are designed to complement CCI's ten preset themes.
  • Toggle your menu text between black and white. This feature lets you load a version of the CCI system graphics that uses white text for menus instead of the default black. You can, of course, toggle back to the default.
  • Toggle your "menu extra" icons between black and white. This function lets you switch to using white custom menu icons instead of the black defaults, as the need arises.The feature will install the icons, restart your menu extras, and refresh the Apple icons, all in one step!  (You can also easily switch back, of course!) Included are icons for the major Apple "menu extras," as well as icons for over 40 third-party applications:
  • Apple


    Notifications (ML only)

    Default Folder X
    I Love Stars
    My Living Desktop
    OpenMenu X

  • Dark Desktop/Light Desktop. These options let you specify whether your current desktop is very dark or very light. Doing so can change the contrast colors for text in your interface, making your current theme compatible with your new desktop’s brightness.
  • Re-Crystalize Windows makes CCI go over the window's views again to try to catch changes to background color and other settings that it missed the first time around. (Note that most of the contrast colors are now set outside the CCI process itself, so this won't always fix a contrast problem.)
  • Relaunch MTLAgent can be used to force applications to reload CrystalClear Interface. This function is designed for use on Lion, where it can be useful at times if applications aren't loading CCI.

Additional information about the CCI Tools

  • Minimizing CCI. You can also minimize and de-minimize CCI for an application by using the checkbox at the top of its Preferences window.
  • Dark Desktop/Light Desktop. If you use this feature, you should check its setting whenever you find the text contrast color misbehaving in a window. You may have left the setting on but now need to turn it off, or you may need to toggle between a Dark to a Light desktop (or vice versa).
  • Switching Menu Text Color. If you're using a menubar style that requires white text or black text, this option will be disabled.

Text Tools

I added these tools to CCI out of frustration that many of the fine apps I use for formatting text leave out one or more of the various text format panels that are part of Apple’s Cocoa frameworks. Sometimes you can’t find a Color panel, sometimes the Font panel is hidden, and outside of RTF editors like TextEdit, Bean, and DevonThink Pro, you hardly ever have easy access to the Table panel. And if you want to make a list or use your defined text styles, you can toggle the formatting Ruler on and off as well.

Contextual Menu. Most of the text tools are also available in a handy contextual menu available wherever you can write and edit rich text.

Between the global menu and the contextual menu, the CCI Text Tools include the following text editing functions:

  • Show Fonts
  • Show Colors
  • Font Options
  • Styles. A lot of editing apps provide a style menu by default, but it doesn't always have the same set of tools I like at my disposal. In particular, these are usually missing:
    • Strikethrough
    • Copy Style
    • Paste Style
    • Paste as Text (sometimes called "Paste Using Current Style")
    • Paste as Rich Text
  • Formatting. A "Formats" menu is also built in to Mac OS X's text system, but it appears less frequently even than the Styles menu. In particular, I can't do without these now that I always have 'em at my fingertips:
    • Add Link
    • Table (Add/Edit)
    • List (Add/Edit)
    • Spacing
    • Toggle Ruler
    • Copy/Paste Ruler


The Help section of the CCI global menu has the following items:

  • Uninstall CCI. Use this menu item to uninstall CrystalClear Interface. Note: Never attempt to uninstall CCI manually or via a third-party "uninstaller" application.
  • Help. This item links you to the online version of this User's Guide.
  • Contact. This item provides a quick and easy way to send me feedback about CrystalClear Interface.
  • Purchase/License Info. If you're a license-holder, select this item to see information about your license. If you aren't, select this item to purchase one.
  • Check for Updates. You can now select this item to see if a new version has been released. CCI also incorporates Sparkle, which will automatically notify you when a new release is available.

Tips & Gotchas

System Requirements

CrystalClear Interface 2.8 supports Mac OS X 10.6.8 ("Snow Leopard"), Mac OS X 10.7 ("Lion") (versions 10.7.4 and 10.7.5 only), and Mac OS X 10.8 ("Mountain Lion") to version 10.8.5. It cannot be installed on Leopard (10.5) or on other versions of Lion. OS X Mavericks is not supported. System requirements are for a PowerPC or Intel system with at least 4GB of RAM, running at least a dual processor system. Processors that run at 2.4GHz or better, or that are of the Intel Core i5 or Core i7 family, are required.

Note: Systems with dedicated graphics cards (i.e., iMacs, Power Macs) will work best. Those that share graphics with main memory (i.e., some MacBook Pros, MacBook Air, Mac Mini) will run slower.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is CCI compatible with Lion and Mountain Lion?
Yes, this version of CrystalClear Interface supports Mac OS X 10.6.8 ("Snow Leopard"), Mac OS X 10.7 ("Lion") (versions 10.7.4 and 10.7.5 only), and Mac OS X 10.8 ("Mountain Lion") to version 10.8.5. It does not support prior versions of Lion.
CrystalClear Interface seems to slow my system down, and launching apps is slower. What gives?
If your system seems sluggish when running CCI, your Mac may not meet or exceed the minimum system requirements (see that section). One thing you can do to reduce CCI's impact is to turn off some of its options — particularly those in the "Extras" section under "Fluff."
When launching apps that spawn multiple windows, CCI will definitely slow down the time it takes for the windows to finish rendering. If your system meets the system requirements, it will still take a second or two for CCI to theme any window opened when the application launches. However, CCI will theme subsequent windows opened within the application pretty much instantly.
The text color doesn't have the right contrast on some of my windows. Why?
If you find that text on window elements no longer sets its color to the correct contrast (either black, or white), check your setting for "Desktop Brightness." You may have selected "Dark Desktop" or "Light Desktop" earlier, but now need to change that setting.
CrystalClear Interface isn't loading into Google Chrome, but it used to. Why?
I don't know what Google did to Chrome, but you're right... Chrome no longer loads either of the Mars Themes. If you're using Chrome, you may also have problems with black text showing up on black buttons. If you do, you may be able to fix this by loading a custom style sheet. In general, I don't think Google does a good job in supporting Chrome for the Mac. Use Safari instead -- after all, Chrome borrowed Apple's open-source browser engine, WebKit, to build the guts of Chrome.
How do I get the white menu icon to show up for iKey?
The menu icon for iKey must be installed within the iKey Editor application. CCI places the icon in the Editor's Resources folder, but you must replace the default icon with CB's to see the change.
When using the Black Gloss buttons, why doesn't the text on buttons in my web browser turn white?
If you use Safari, CCI should automatically enable a custom style sheet (the same on used in Crystal Black). If it doesn't, you can enable it manually by adding it to the Advanced Preferences pane's "Style Sheet" option. The style sheet, named "styleForBlackGloss.css," is located in the /Library/Application Support/MarsThemes/Common folder.
If you use Firefox or Chrome, CCI won't theme the buttons correctly because neither app loads CCI and because neither provides an option for using a custom style sheet.
Some applications, like GarageBand, don't seem to get themed by CrystalClear Interface. Is this normal?
Yes, some apps have custom window frames that aren't affected by CCI.
I just installed CrystalClear Interface. Why don't I see custom graphics for some of my applications, like Safari or iTunes?
CCI uses a Spotlight search to find your applications. If you don't have Spotlight indexing your boot drive, CCI won't find your apps. Also, if you have multiple copies of a given app on your Mac, CCI will only find the first instance, and that's where the graphics will be applied.
Why are so many functions in the CCI global menu disabled in TextEdit and Preview?
On Lion, CrystalClear Interface disables all of its functions in TextEdit and Preview that modify CCI options or require authentication (e.g., uninstalling CCI or managing graphics). For some reason, the Lion versions of these applications can't handle any tasks like these. (Note: The problem doesn't affect users on Snow Leopard.)
When using one of the very dark menubars, the text for the Battery and Airport indicators on my menubar is black, so I can't read it. What can I do?
The solution is to use some alternative, free menubar apps that provide the same information. You can find these by searching on MacUpdate.com or other sources.
CCI isn't theming many of my applications, such as Firefox, Quicken 2006, BBEdit, and Adobe Photoshop CS4. How come?
CCI will not run in Mac OS X applications built with Apple's older “Carbon” frameworks. It runs only in applications developed using the “Cocoa” frameworks introduced in 2000 as part of Mac OS X. Nearly all new Mac apps built today use the Cocoa frameworks, but a number of long-running, high-profile apps are still built with Carbon. In this latter category are all apps from Microsoft, Adobe and Intuit, as well as some older apps from Mac vendors that are now building with Cocoa, such as BBEdit (BareBones) and Snapz Pro X (Ambrosia). Another high-profile example is Firefox and related applications such as Thunderbird, Flock, and Nvu. Note: The latest releases of MIcrosoft Office for Mac and Adobe Photoshop CS5 use the Cocoa frameworks, but in a way that appears to be incompatible with CCI
After installing CCI and logging back in, TotalFinder's titlebar and toolbar look funny. Is there a fix for this?
Yes. Quit and relaunch TotalFinder, and the problem should go away.
I tried installing some of the Crystal Docs icons, but for some of my apps, the icons didn't change. Why?
This is similar to the question above about missing custom application graphics. If you have multiple copies of an application, the icons will be installed in the first instance Spotlight finds. That's probably where they are. To fix, find the duplicate copy and either trash it or compress it so Spotlight won't find it.

Known Bugs

A full set of known bugs for this version of CrystalClear Interface is available on the CCI website. Here are the more noticeable bugs, and possible workarounds:

  • Apps that have disabled CrystalClear Interface: Black images on black buttons may be unreadable.
  • Specific app incompatibilities:
    • Springy crashes when closing a window in icon mode.
    • Photoshop CS5 has some rendering problems, particularly with pull-down menus.
    • Preview annotations don't work on the first page of a PDF file. CCI adds a fix to try to work around this, but if you still have a problem, you can solve it by opening the sidebar and clicking on the document's icon.
    • Sometimes, PlistEdit Pro hangs when launched.
    • If you have the "Make all toolbars customizable" option set, don't try to use it in Xcode 4, or you will likely cause the app to crash.
    • Trying to start a second chat within Adium may cause the application to crash.
  • Some Apple statusbar items: Any of the Apple menu extras (e.g., Clock, Battery, Airport) that display text are a problem, because it's not possible to make this text white. More info in the FAQ section.
  • Customizing colors: Adjusting the color sliders when working in HSB values causes the H, S, and B values to change when you change one of the others.
  • On Snow Leopard only:
    • Text rulers. On Snow Leopard, CCI's white tab widgets on the text editing ruler turn black when dragged. You must click on the page to retheme them, or you can use a contextual menu item on the ruler itself, "Re-Theme Me." This issue doesn't affect Lion.
    • Glossy button theme. When using the Glossy button theme, the buttons may appear with blue "stripes" inside their border when rendering on windows that don't load CCI. If this bothers you, try selecting the CCI Prefs option to "Hide Focus Rings."
  • On Lion only:
    • iTunes crashes when terminated.
    • Safari's URL field renders transparent in the first window Safari launches. CCI attempts to workaround by forcing a white background when you click in the field. However, a better solution is to launch a second window.
    • TextEdit and Preview behave differently from other apps on Lion. Among the problems are that they cannot handle any functions that require authentication or involve changing CCI preferences, so those functions are disabled in those apps.
  • On Mountain Lion only:
    • Notification Center icon doesn't get refreshed when user changes from black to white (and vice versa). The app must be force-quit through Activity Monitor for change to take effect, or user must log out and back in.

Application Incompatibilities

CCI maintains a list of applications known to be incompatible when it is running normally. The first time you open such an application, you'll see a warning that gives you the option to either "minimize" CCI or to disable it entirely. The notice will also explain the difficulty and provide a suggestion about whether to disable CCI or to minimize it. You can also disable or minimize CCI from its global menu. (If you know of an application that is incompatible with CrystalClear Interface, please drop me an email at llscotts@gmail.com letting me know, so I can either try to fix the problem or add the app to the list.)

Known incompatibilities on Snow Leopard and Lion:

    • Coda (suggestion: Disable)
    • iFreeMem 2 (suggestion: Minimize)
    • App Store (disabled by default)
    • QuickTime Player (minimized by default)
    • Adobe Photoshop CS5 (minimized by default)
    • XTorrent (suggestion: Minimize)
    • CleanApp 3 (suggestion: Disable)
    • DeNoise (suggestion: Disable)
    • File Finder
    • Mathematica
    • Adobe Acrobat 8.0
    • DeKstasy

Credits & Tech Notes

CrystalClear Interface (CCI) 2.8 requires Mac OS X 10.6.8 ("Snow Leopard"), Mac OS X 10.7.4 or 10.7.5 (“Lion”), or Mac OS X 10.8 ("Mountain Lion"). Those interested in more technical information about CrystalClear Interface—including details about its components and changes made during installation—refer to the "Technical Notes" document.

The development of CrystalClear Interface has benefited from the work of many fine Cocoa software developers who have been generous enough to make their work available as open source for others to use and learn by. The following is a list all of the developers CCI is most deeply indebted to (many of whom would probably prefer not to have their work associated with it!). :-) In some cases, these developers' code were mainly inspirational, while in other cases I shamelessly lifted their work and plopped it into CCI. The list is not in any particular order.

Developer (Application) Class or Project
Andy Matuschak (Sparkle) NSFileManager+Authentication (class)
James Hoover (Bean) Strikethrough, logout code
Uli Kusterer UKCustomWindowFrame (class)
Matt Gemmell PolishedWindow (class)
Dave Batton DBBackgroundCheck (project/demo)
Wade Tregaskis Rotated Windows (project/demo)
Jeff Ganyard Styled Windows (project/demo)
Frank Vercruesse DeVercruesseProcess (and related classes)
HAS (objc-appscript) connect (class)
Makoto Kinoshita (Shiira) HMBlkScroller (class)
Alcor/Blacktree (Quicksilver) NSWorkspace_BLTRExtensions (class)
Allan Odgaard (TextMate) Relaunch code
Michael Parrot SetAlphaValue (software)
Peter Borg (Smultron) General inspiration and excellent code
Omni Group (OmniFoundation) NSObject-OFExtensions
Graham Cox (DrawKit) NSColor+GCAdditions
David Sinclair (Dejal Systems) DSWindowCategories
Darkshadow (Night Productions) DSGeneralOutlineView
Geoff Reedy (StepMenus) StepMenusPreferencePane (class)
StepMenusDisabledApplications (class)
StepMenusCommonUtils (class)
Steve Gehrman (CocoaTech) NTPrefsBox (class part of the PathFinder SDK)
Mike Soloman (SIMBL) SIMBL (software)

Version History

A full version history for CCI is available as a separate document.

Adds support for Mac OS X 10.8.5. Can be installed and uninstalled safely on OS X Mavericks (developer preview release only). Also removes Safari from the list of excluded apps on Mountain Lion and Mavericks, as the latest version of Safari seems compatible with CCI.
Adds support for Mac OS X 10.8.4.
Adds support for Mac OS X 10.8.3. By default adds Photoshop to the list of disabled applications for Mountain Lion.
Adds a feature that lets users define custom window themes, as well as a new button theme ("Embossed Nickel") for Snow Leopard users. Also includes a variety of bug fixes.
Extends the "Glossy" button theme to Mountain Lion users. Also includes several significant bug fixes, including ones that prevented CCI running with Dropbox, Growl, and QuickTime Player (on Mountain Lion). The update also adds support Mac OS X 10.8.2 when it's released.
This release updates CrystalClear Interface to be compatible with Mac OS X 10.8.1 (the latest release of "Mountain Lion").
Introduces a new button theme, Smooth Black. Incorporates support for the first release of Mac OS X 10.8 ("Mountain Lion"). Also includes a large number of bug fixes (described above in the "What's New" section).
Bug fixes: Updated version for component that does the Sparkle update check, fixed install of Notification Center statusbar icon on Mountain Lion, and fixed install of custom graphic for Endicia. Also fixed error that caused unnecessary messages sent to the system log.
Removes support for Lion 10.7.3, adds support for 10.7.5 and tentative support for the developer preview of Mountain Lion. Adds 12 new menu extra graphics and incorporates enhancements and bug fixes from Crystal Black 1.5.
Adds support for Lion version 10.7.4, and adds code to make CCI disable itself if user upgrades to an unsupported version of Mac OS X. Improves some Lion graphics, fixes some minor bugs, and enhances the collapsed view of CCI Options panel.
This major update to CrystalClear Interface is nearly identical to CCI 2.6, but it extends theming support to include Mac OS X 10.7 ("Lion") — specifically, version 10.7.3. The update also some enhancements and new features of its own. These are listed and described in this Guide's "What's New" section.
This was a major upgrade to version 2.5, but was only available for users running Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6). The description of version 2.7 (above) also pertains to 2.6, but it covers Lion users as well.
CrystalClear Interface 2.0
CrystalClear Interface and this Website @ 2008-10, Leland Scott, Musings from Mars