Review: Quartz Desktop

Written by: Adam Christianson

Categories: Reviews

Quartz Desktop 1.0starstarstarstarhalf star (Freeware)
One of my favorite new features in OS X Tiger was the new “RSS Visualizer” that is hidden away in the screensaver area of Tiger’s System Preferences. When I stumbled on this gem, I was in awe. Even my die hard PC friends were so amazed that they immediately went online to find something that was comparable on the PC. They failed to find anything near it’s beauty. My only complaint was that I use my Powerbook so much, I never really got the chance to use the RSS Visualizer. While balancing the pros and cons of doing less work just to get a glimpse of my new joy, I happened to find a neat little application that brings the Visualizer to my viewing attention a bit more.

Four Minute Mile Software has released Quartz Desktop 1.0. What this does is it takes the RSS Visualizer and places it on your desktop, replacing your wallpaper. While, yes, you do loose your beautiful forest scene or Tiger default wallpaper, it’s replaced by this gorgeous 3D nugget of news. I personally have my RSS feed set in the System Preferences to the MacWorld RSS feed. That way I always stay in tune with what’s going on in the Mac Universe. Normally, when you see an article that interests you in the RSS Visualizer, you could just hit the corresponding number on your keyboard matching whichever article caught you eye. Doing so would automatically open Safari, stopping the Visualizer of course, and would go directly to that news story. This would help you from having to go online and search forever to find that story of interest. Unfortunately, the Quartz Desktop doesn’t include this in it’s current version.
The install is as easy as any Apple based application and was flawless when I went to do so. What really impressed me was that when I first started running it, it used virtually no footprint. I was still able to surf the net, check my email, and listen to iTunes without noticing much of a bog down at all. The only real application that I noticed running a bit sluggish was Mail. It wasn’t much, but enough to notice it was there.

The only real downfall of this program was in fact, yet again, it’s beauty. How, you ask? Well, when are sitting at your system attempting to concentrate on your task at hand, you background is spinning like a ride at Disneyland. At times this can get a bit congested and nerve racking. During times like these, I just recommend that you use the handy little button that pops in your System Bar at the top. You then have the option of either shutting it down completely or just to stop rendering until your ready read the news again.

Recently I spoke with the creator, Andrew Pile, of Quartz Desktop, and asked him how he came about creating this software. He stated that this was basically a test run for some software that his company plans to release later, and more along the lines of Shareware Licensing. While there was not a donation link available for people that enjoy Quartz Desktop at the time that I wrote this review, he stated that he would likely put one up soon.

Conclusion – I would recommend this software to anyone that wants to stay up-to-date with the goings on of the world, or in my case Apple news. Not to mention for the people out there that have friends balancing on the verge of switching. Eye Candy is what makes people look at Apple products, functionality keeps them from buying yet another PC.

Product Requirements:

  • Mac OS X 10.4 or higher
  • Tiger compatible
  • Developer Tools (optional)

There are 6 comments on Review: Quartz Desktop:

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  1. jon from vancouver | Jun 05 2005 - 09:44

    Too bad it only works in Tiger, not everyone is going to upgrade. I suppose it’s b/c it connects to the RSS feature in Safari, correct. Well, just got my puddy knife yesterday, now I just need some new ram for the Mini!!!

  2. Craig Patchett | Jun 06 2005 - 10:19

    When I first ran RSS visualize as a screensaver, it had dark blue, pixelated splotches in the background that really took away from the look. It was a few days before I realized that my display was set to thousands of colors instead of millions, and this is what was causing the problem. Just in case anyone else runs into the same problem!

  3. rickt42uk | Jun 06 2005 - 12:43

    It only runs on Tiger not due to RSS technology, but because the Quartz Compositor format is a new thing in Tiger. Quartz Desktop can set ANY .qtz file as your desktop background.
    While the RSS screensaver is the most popular (and default in Quartz Desktop) Tiger also ships with another .qtz screensaver.
    These files also play in QuickTime player in Tiger.
    You can download others from…

  4. Niclas Bahn | Jun 17 2005 - 03:31

    Check out this site for quartz composer creations.

    I am sure you will find some interesting screen savers that you can use and modify.

  5. niji | Jul 30 2005 - 05:50

    can you help: i have quartz desktop installed and the icon is in the menu bar.
    the desktop changes to the nice blue undulating background. but no info (no rss feed) appears.
    how do i set and chose the feed to appear and what format does it need to be: like www. or feed: or what?

  6. Money Making Salenko | Apr 27 2009 - 01:13

    Never was a big fan of the quart desktop. Me personally I would never buy it ( unless they gave it to me for free ), Anyways nice review.