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I'm still fairly new to this whole Mac OS thing, but there was one thing that absolutely stood out the minute I booted up my new MacBook. Window Shading. Back in my University of Texas at El Paso, or UTEP, work study days I would run errands for the Director of the UTEP Ballet, I know, I know, but there were plenty of ladies to kill the time, and all she had in the office was a Mac. It was completely foreign to me as I hadn't touched a Mac since 7th grade, but I managed the ladies. I was always fascinated by the ladies it's ability to minimize windows as if it were a set of blinds. Something about that just felt right. It made sense. Why the engineers at Apple decided to go with Minimize to Dock for Leopard is beyond me, maybe the Intel processor fumes have gotten to their head. "I wanna be a PC, but I'm a Mac" intervention coming soon.

Enter WindowShadeX, a preference pane utility that brings back the window shading along with some added kicks. Not only can you minimize the windows by shading, you can also Minimize in Place or Make Transparent. Minimize in Place shrinks the window as seen in the screenshot to the right, along with an icon of the application being used so there's no confusion. Make Transparent will, as the name implies, make the window transparent so you can see what lies beneath. The only instance in which I've found this useful is if you assign the action of pressing the Command key twice so you don't have to move the mouse up to the title bar to double click. It saves time and is beneficial when you have plenty of windows open. You can change the transparency settings, the size of the minimized windows even the actions that lead to the behaviors. Wait, there's more, you can do all of this customization per application. For example if you only want Photoshop to shade windows, but you want Final Cut to make use of the transparency, simply access the Window Shade preference pane through System Preferences and customize till your little hearts content. Come to think of it maybe I'll reassign the Command key twice action to shade. Decisions, decisions.

I was skeptical at first of how well it would work, and a bit wary to be honest due to it's flat out incompatibility with Leopard in the past. However, version 4.2 along with a 30 day trial changed all that in the blink of an eye. Once the trial expired, I truly realized how much I used it and the functionality it offered, that I went ahead and paid the $13.50 price tag. The price may honestly be the biggest barrier to entry for some, simply for the fact that some people can't justify or may not appreciate it's functionality upfront. That's why there's a trial folks and unlike Windows, where trials can be nothing but headaches when it comes to uninstalling, this utility is painless to install and same goes for the uninstall. One thing I've loved about Mac OS is to delete most any app all it takes is dragging the file to the trash. When it comes to shitty apps it feels good to put them where they belong. WindowShadeX though, is in my book non-shitty apps. Check out the screenshots.

WindowShadeX 4.2 is available from Unsanity.com for $13.50.

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