Submit Hint Search The Forums LinksStatsPollsHeadlinesRSS
14,000 hints and counting!

Configure Tooltip properties in Cocoa applications System
Tooltips are those 'helpful' yellow tags containing messages that sometimes appear when the mouse pointer hovers over controls in many programs. For various reasons, I sometimes find aspects of their implementation to be unsatisfactory. Fortunately, it turns out to be possible to tweak tooltip characteristics (at least in Cocoa apps) to some extent, by adding various properties to the .GlobalPreferences.plist file, or an individual program's .plist file.

Some of the available properties (their functions are more or less self-explanatory) include:
Key Data type Value / description
NSInitialToolTipDelay -int Time delay (milliseconds?)
NSToolTipAutoWrappingDisabled -bool true or false
NSToolTipsFont -string font name
NSToolTipsFontSize -int font size
For example, to generally reduce the incidence of accidentally triggering unwanted tooltips in Cocoa apps, the amount of time the mouse pointer has to hover before a tooltip initially appears can be lengthened by entering the command below in
$ defaults write -g NSInitialToolTipDelay -int 10000
Note that this will only affect programs launched after the change is made.

To set a separate, shorter delay for the appearance of Spotlight menu tooltips, and also prevent line wrapping to improve legibility of the 'path' info in tooltips for items in the search results, try these changes:
$ defaults write \
NSInitialToolTipDelay -int 1
$ defaults write \
NSToolTipAutoWrappingDisabled -bool true
The keys themselves all work in both 10.3 and 10.4 (earlier versions not tested), with the exception of NSToolTipAutoWrappingDisabled, which seems to cause the tooltip to appear as a tiny square in 10.3.

Some properties may have other unexpected effects in some apps. For example, in the web browser Shiira 1.2.2, changing the NSToolTipsFontSize changes the font size of the address field and bookmark bar. I'll call it a feature, since a smaller size allows more bookmarks to be added to the bookmarks bar! In 10.3, the font size of dialogues in some Apple apps is affected by changes to NSToolTipsFontSize.

If the results are unsatisfactory, the changes can be reversed using the appropriate defaults delete... command, or at worst, by deleting the corresponding .plist file from the user's ~/Library/Preferences folder.
  • Currently 2.33 / 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  (3 votes cast)

Configure Tooltip properties in Cocoa applications | 5 comments | Create New Account
Click here to return to the 'Configure Tooltip properties in Cocoa applications' hint
The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Configure Tooltip properties in Cocoa applications
Authored by: jhf on Nov 14, '06 08:51:02AM

The table in this post gets cut in half by the RSS feed line limit (or whatever it is), which sucks -- it leaves the table open, in the HTML sense.

It'd be nice if this could be fixed. Full text in the syndication feeds would work!

[ Reply to This | # ]
Configure Tooltip properties in Cocoa applications
Authored by: jonn8n on Nov 14, '06 09:22:32AM
Cool tip. Here's a quick AppleScript Studio app that enables these settings for itself: (40k)


[ Reply to This | # ]
Configure Tooltip properties in Cocoa applications
Authored by: billclinton on Nov 14, '06 11:33:23AM

I wish there were a way to disable the automatic appearance of tooltips and replace it with a manual interaction, such as moving the cursor to a desired location and then, say, pressing the Command key. I've seen at least one app that does this and really liked it. I wonder if it would clobber some other interface feature.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Configure Tooltip properties in Cocoa applications
Authored by: qwerty denzel on Nov 14, '06 03:58:00PM

Or even better, get that useless help key to actually do something.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Configure Tooltip properties in Cocoa applications
Authored by: pamon on May 24, '07 06:22:52AM

Is there any way to enable the tooltips for hyperlinks in TextEdit?

[ Reply to This | # ]