Are you a Mac user? Have you been one for a while? Long enough to know what “Dogcow” and “Moof” mean? Let me explain. For who knows what reason, the unofficial mascot at Apple computer for a few years was a strange creature called the Dogcow. It was, as should be obvious by the name and the sound it makes (moof!), part dog and part cow. The body of a dog, actually, and the head of the cow.
The dogcow would show up occasionally, usually as a software Easter Egg in an office product (I believe it briefly showed up in the AppleWorks/ClarisWorks “about” panel if you hit a certain key combination), but for the last few years it has been relatively silent.
Enter the MoofMenu, from Lobotomo Software. MoofMenu has nothing to do with Apple Computers, but it has everything to do with being a bit of a throwback to the System 9 days. Back then, your Mac had an Apple Menu, as it does now, but in the days prior to OS X, the Apple menu was much handier.
One of the Apple Menu’s greatest uses was that it was a hierarchical menu that let a user access programs, documents, preference panels, desktop accessories, the printer/network chooser… pretty much anything to be found on your hard drive could be accessed via the Apple Menu. With the advent of OS X, however, that ability was stripped from the Apple Menu, which now gives you access to the preference panels, software update, a couple of options (Dock and Network), as well as shut down and restart. But no longer can a Mac user drill down into his/her applications folder and start a program. That ability (launching programs), is now the domain of the Dock. And that’s all well and good, but the Dock can only hold so many items before the icons start getting too small to be useful.
With MoofMenu installed, however, you don’t need to worry about that. MoofMenu provides users with a completely customizable hierarchical menu that can have anything in it. By default, the MoofMenu (which has the dogcow as an icon, although that can be switched), includes everything you already had in the dock, neatly arranged by software category, so your office applications are grouped together, your Internet applications are grouped together, etc.
But you don’t have to keep it that way. One thing I noticed immediately is that although MoofMenu attempts to recreate the old Apple Menu, it does not include a hierarchical view of my Applications menu. That is easily rectified, however, by opening up MoofMenu’s preferences, navigating (in the Finder), to your hard drive, and dragging the Applications folder into the MoofMenu preferences area, and positioning it to where you’d like it. You can remove items placed there automatically, or rearrange to your heart’s content.
I found working with MoofMenu to be intuitive, fast, and easy. It took me back to the days when entire companies were built on providing little hacks for the operating system, hacks that made my Mac all the better. My only gripe, and it’s a small one, I’ll admit, is the MoofMenu doesn’t actually replace the built-in Apple Menu with its throwback version. Instead, the MoofMenu appears on the right side of the screen, to the left of all the other Apple menu items, such as Spotlight, Clock, Volume, and (on a laptop), battery strength and charge. It would be nice, even if MoofMenu couldn’t replace the Apple Menu, if it could at least position itself on the left side of the screen, but I suppose Apple tries to make that as difficult as possible, if not impossible.
In spite of my little gripe, I have no trouble recommending MoofMenu to people. It seems a natural fit for those who like the souped-up graphics and interface of OS X, but don’t like the Dock, and miss a few of the niceties from Mac OS 9. For those people, a little bit of yesterday has arrived in the form of MoofMenu… enjoy it!
Note: One word of warning, for those of you who install it and then decide not to keep it. There is no clear way to turn off MoofMenu once it’s been started. No quit button, no way to drag it from the menu bar. The “Read Me” file, on the other hand, does mention how, but it’s almost in passing, so I felt I should mention it here. To quit MoofMenu, go to the MoofMenu configuration area and type in Cmd-Alt-Q and that will shut down the program. You could, in a pinch, go to the Terminal as well and type in (without the quotes): “killall MoofMenu” and that will do the trick too.