App of the Week: Nocturne

OS X has a number of settings for messing with what your Mac’s display.  You can change the brightness, the quality of the display, invert the colors, and change it to display everything in grayscale (basically black and white).  But to navigate to all these settings can take a while, and it would be nice to have a few other features.  Nocturne is here to help.

Nocturne allows you to change a lot of the visual settings on the Mac within the one preferences window.  It allows

Nocturne’s preference window

you to switch between what is called “Day” and “Night”.  Day Mode is the standard Mac look that you already have.  But when you switch to Night mode, the screen changes to the settings you have selected in Nocturne.  You can switch to an inverted display where black colors become white, red becomes blue, etc.  It also allows you adjust the screen to a brighter or dimmer setting and switch to grayscale.  But it can do more than that.

When switching to Night mode, you can set Nocturne to display everything in a certain tint of colors, such as setting white to display as red.  Why is this important?  Besides making the screen look as if you were looking through older 3D glasses, color blind users can actually set it up to assist them in discerning colors on screen.  However, this feature only allow you to adjust the way black and white appear on screen to be various shades of colors rather than any color changes.  This might make it a little harder to adjust the screen to your liking, but it’s a cool feature to have nonetheless.

One other feature that’s really cool is the ability to invert the menubar.  Instead of having a standard gray menubar, you can change it to a cool black menubar.  I don’t know why it is, but I always like the few apps that had a black window; it nicely contrasted with the stoplight (close, minimize and zoom buttons in the top left hand corner).  Having the menubar black as well looks pretty cool feature, even if I can’t do the same with the window elements themselves.  Since it is inverted, though, selected utilities in the menubar are yellow, rather than blue or white.  The drop down menus also remain their standard white/blue palette.  One bug with this feature deals with how Nocturne handles full-screen apps in Lion.  In my tests, when I had inverted the menubar and went into a full screen apps, like Pages and Keynote, the place where the menubar normally resides would remain black , even when the menu bar was hidden.  I hope to see this bug addresses in future updates.

One last interesting feature is the fading menubar.  OS X allows you to set the menubar to be translucent

Note how the top of the ads are cut off.

or completely opaque.  Nocturne allows you to fade out the menubar completely or partially when not using it.  Then when you take move you mouse over it, the menubar springs back into full view.  While this is a really cool feature, it doesn’t actually provide you any extra screen room, which can be a bit confusing if you’ve completely faded it out and are expecting to drag a window to the top of the screen.  I realize this isn’t as much a bug as the fact that the menubar has turned invisible.

Overall for anyone who wants more control over the visual tweaking of their Mac, especially when it comes to the visually impaired, Nocturne is a wonderful app to check out.  There are still a couple of visual issues that I hope to see tweaked, but overall a pretty nifty app.  Nocturne is a free app available from  The most recent version is available for OS 10.5 and higher, but OS 10.4 (Tiger) users can still download the 1.0.6 version.  If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this or any other topic, leave a comment below or email me at  You can also check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube by hitting the buttons on the top of your screen.  You can also check out my Google Plus.  Thanks!


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