If there was one measly, single feature in Windows 95 or 98 that you could consider decent, what would you pick? (I know, it seems like a trick question, but it’s not. :¬P) One popular answer would be the “Task Bar”, a feature that allows for single-click cycling through open programs and windows, making multitasking a little easier.
Just Like Windows
True to its claim, when you restart after you install GoMac, you will notice something different. A strange bar seems to be invading the bottom of your screen! Depending on your setup, you see a Start menu à la Windows 95/98 (but with a Mac OS logo instead of that wavy, rainbow-colored thing), and a clock. You will also see a button labeled “Finder”, representing the current open application.
However, GoMac falls a bit short of the functionality of the task bar used by Windows (or as GoMac refers to it, a “Program Bar”). Although there is a button for each open application at the bottom, individual windows within each application don’t get their own buttons. As a result, you can use GoMac to switch between applications but not to move through open windows. It even mimics Windows 95/98′s application-switching keyboard shortcut to allow you to cycle through open apps without the mouse. (Note that both keyboard shortcuts for application switching and a floating window that lists all open applications will be featured in MacOS 8.5.)
Is That a Feature?
Unfortunately, when it comes to configurability and customization, GoMac almost hits rock bottom.
Of course, you can set options like automatically hiding the Program Bar, whether or not to hide other applications in the background, and which application you use to search your hard drive, but GoMac has too many of those trivial settings and not enough of the essential options that users expect. For instance, there is no way to customize the font/size of the start bar menu or clock; you cannot change what appears under the “Settings” menu item—it’s
permanently set to Control Panels, Extensions
(for the Extensions Manager), Chooser, Monitors
& Sound, Program Bar (to open the GoMac
Control Panel), and Start Menu Items.
Mac Meets Windows
Of course, GoMac also has its share of well-
conceived features. For example, clicking on the
clock reveals a “perpetual calendar”, where you
can cycle through the days, weeks, months and years just about indefinitely. The program bar also features Control Strip support; however, you must individually add Control Strip modules, one-at-a-time, to be able to use them. This may become troublesome for users with many modules. Its Control Strip support also does not use the font settings of the “Control Strip” Control Panel. GoMac also features rudimentary Contextual Menu support. Control-clicking on a program’s button will reveal a menu that allows the user to see how much memory an application is taking up (when you click on the Finder, it displays the total amount of free memory), an option to quit the application, and a menu item to invoke a “Settings” dialog which can control if the app appears as a small icon next to the clock instead of as a bar.
One of GoMac’s best features is support for the Appearance Manager. Although this may not mean much now, it means better compatibility down the line. When users of Kaleidoscope 2.0 change schemes, for instance, GoMac changes the color of the program bar to match the scheme. However, it still doesn’t change its fonts to automatically match the scheme’s selected System font.
If you’re a PC user who recently switched to the Mac, or you usually juggle a dozen apps at once, then GoMac is for you. Its usefulness will satisfy your needs, even though its lack of configurability may be disconcerting. If you’re a Mac user looking for a new toy for your Mac, GoMac doesn’t provide enough features to justify its usefulness unless you really want to have a task bar.