Amar Sagoo

2 May 2006

Prefling: The State of Affairs

Some people have been asking me whether there will be an Intel-compatible version of Prefling. Unfortunately, the answer looks to be no.

Prefling relies on a neat little library which was created by Brian Webster and accompanied by an article on Stepwise. This library provided the basis for most docklings that came out when these things had their glory days. Unfortunately, Brian is not planning to port his library to Intel. This is perfectly understandable. Docklings have been deprecated by Apple for a long time, and I’m one of the last developers to still use them. The API could be killed any day, most likely when the Dock gets an overhaul (perhaps in 10.5?). Also, the dockling server is a bit flaky anyway, sometimes stopping docklings from working until you log out and back in.

Most functionality offered by docklings can now be added to normal applications by controlling their icon and Dock menu. But there’s one thing that using an application doesn’t offer, and it’s precisely the essence of Prefling’s concept: that you can show its menu with a simple click. Applications require clicking and holding or control-clicking/right-clicking to show their menu.

The only alternative I can see would be to make Prefling a “menu extra”. However, I don’t feel that it’s worth the effort, since there are already two other such solutions out there: the aptly named MenuPrefs, which is already Intel-compatible but not free, and the also very aptly named PrefsMenu, which has not been ported yet. And anyway, what would I call mine, now that all the possible permutations of “menu” and “prefs” have been used?

So, dear fans, after 29,684 Versiontracker downloads (my record so far), it looks like this is the end of the road for Prefling. I’m glad you enjoyed it while it lasted.


  1. you missed another difference with an application – namely, that the application needs to be running for its menu to be usable. Sure, you could stuff all the pref panes into System Preferences' dock menu – but that would mean that you would always keep System Prefs open, not exactly an optimal solution.
    and menu extras might be great, I have no place to put them ;). The dock though – that's full of free space.

  2. Thanks (!!) for this little thingie, used it for years, I miss it on my MacBook.

  3. Very sad to see Prefling go... I have used it since the beginning and was shocked and then sad that it didn't work on my MBP. Thanks so much for a super-useful little thing.

    John, USA

  4. Wow, this thing was actually so much a part of how I use my Mac, I forgot it was third-party software until just a moment ago. That's meant to be the utmost compliment. It's going to take a lot of getting used to but thanks a bunch for making something so simple and useful.

    The preference pane is so hard to use...

  5. As regards to menu you all forgot about Butler.

  6. :,-{

    Ditto to all the comments above (except that Butler one). I just upgraded to a Macbook Pro/Leopard and noticed that Prefling was gone when I went to click on it. It's been such an integral part of my system for years, and after using it a grillion times a day, I can't believe it's gone. Thank you for a very useful, elegant solution.

  7. Just went from 10.4.11 to 10.5... man am i bummed that this no longer works.. You did a great job with this item... hopefully can find something similar. WHY doesn't Apple incorporate this into their dock/pref icon??? They should buy the concept from you and work it!

    A plague on their houses!