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(3) 5

Set transparency for Cocoa windows.   Free
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  • SetAlphaValue has been discontinued
  • Developer
    Michael Parrot
SetAlphaValue is extension for Cocoa applications and set the alphaValue of windows. In others words, this program is only aesthetic, just for fun.
What's New
Version 2.2.2:
  • Fix assistant bug when uninstall SAV
Intel/PPC, Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later

*Previously available here

MacUpdate - SetAlphaValue

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SetAlphaValue User Discussion (Write a Review)
ver. 2.x:
Your rating: Now say why...

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James Churchman reviewed on 26 Oct 2008
best app ever, massive productivity boost in being able to see what's in the background
[Version 2.2.2]


Paradigmlie reviewed on 13 Aug 2007
I use crazy backgrounds that i love to see. i use my screen as another place to hang a painting, or w/e you will. and with this, i get to enjoy those peices fo art more!

Features: GREAT, it does almost every window, except iTunes (i haven't found anything to skin that in any fashion) and the finder windows. Includes mounted .dmg files.

Ease of use: Great. 3 clearly labeled sliders. and if those don't work, you can type in the title of the window you want to change. and a button to turn off for the current app.

Value: ....... honestly, im surprised this is free.

Stability: Pretty decent. i have noticed though that some apps get a black bar beneath the buttons if you set the alpha to 100% when in the front. and it sometimes hangs and gets the apps backwards, so that the background app is opaque, and the fore is transparent. but a quick switching of the foreground app fixes that.

[Version 2.2.2]



lmjn13 reviewed on 22 Mar 2006
Michaël, your app is not just for aesthetics. It's very useful in creative work I'm doing. for example trying to adjust perspective views of a digital 3D model to a background photo opened in a different application. Thanks much!
[Version 2.2]

tiv commented on 07 Jan 2006
Wow, quick response on that one. 2.1 fixes the problem I noted below. Thanks for the delay option, too!
[Version 2.1]


Niamor commented on 13 Sep 2005
I don't have found a little great tunning apps like that since a long time ! It works perfectly, and it allows a lots of crazy tricks, as funny (and usefull) screen capture, and really much more.
Thanks for this !
[Version 1.8]


Anonymous reviewed on 06 Aug 2005
Love the fact that you can set the transparency level for the focussed and unfocussed windows in each specific app. Very useful and very slick.
[Version 1.7]


Anonymous reviewed on 04 Jun 2005
What a great concept. unfortuantely, if you use the window-specific slider to adjust the opacity of a window, it will forevermore remain at that opacity until changed. there does not appear to be any way to reset that window (for example, window titled "buddy list" in iChat) to behave normally under the default active/inactive settings above. That is annoying. otherwise, 4 stars.
[Version 1.7]


Anonymous reviewed on 04 Jun 2005
Other reviewers have said this is difficult to understand (the author seems French) and hard to implement. I find neither point valid.

The program allows you to apply a transparency setting to all windows with a slider on the lower half of the preferences pane.

On the top of the preferences pain you can set a value for the normal transparency of an active window, and you can set a value for the window when it is inactive. (See screengrab of my desktop - Deer Park on top is, as already mentioned by another user, opaque as it does not support this program, neither does Mac Mail or Finder, which is probably a blessing. Beneath Deer Park, Safari is inactive and is only 10% opaque. 10 % is the minimum value you can give to a window's transparency.)

So, if you want your windows opaque then set it 100%, and if you want to see behind it set the inactive value at 10%. Now, all you have to do is click on part of the desktop that is visible to switch to finder, your inactive window will remain, but fade out, and when you want to switch back, click to activate the window and it returns to 100% transparency.

To find the Alpha settings, click the Application name in the top right corner of the screen, so for Sarari it's Safari->Set Alpha Value.... this brings up the preference pane.

Users may also set a fade time value which measures the number of stages in the transition from faded to opaque which can be turned on or off.

3 out of 5. It's useful I guess, but I can see it being awkward for other users. As it is people who also use my computer are thrown by Expose hiding windows and popping up Dashboard when they stray to the corners. Also, the show desktop (f11 by default) and hot corner feature does sort of make transparency redundant for what I would use it for - however, the author says that this was coded just for fun, and that is exactly what it can be used for.
[Version 1.7]


Anonymous reviewed on 21 May 2005
I used to use InvisRay, but now prefer this, even if it only works on Cocoa apps.

Why? It's not a SIMBL plugin, it adds a menu item to the main application menu, just below Services. You can have different levels of transparency for different kinds of windows, even specific windows such as individual websites, and it remembers your settings.

For example, as I'm writing this review, I am looking through the page at how my downloads are progressing as well as at some scrolling text in some other app in the background, whereas a few minutes ago, I was typing into a transparent TextEdit window in front of the main Safari window, reading off of an image in Preview, three layers behind.

Great for maximising efficiency on small screens.

Nevermind that it looks cool like anything.
[Version 1.6]


Anonymous reviewed on 20 Jan 2005
I can't review this, because after copying to /Libary/InputManagers, and getting the interface popping up, tweaking a few values and hitting OK, this doesn't appear to do anything.

A PrefPane would be nice...
[Version 1.6]

travlcas had trouble on 10 May 2007
I must admit, I didn't read any instructions, naughty me, but went straight for the installation program icon. I did subsequently read everything I could find, but could not find a way to uninstall, which is what I really want. Using the program is less than intuitive, and I am personally not fond of the transparent windows, so my desire to uninstall is more personal aesthetics, and hence i have no desire to learn how to more effectively use the program. If anyone knows how I can uninstall please let me know. thanks
[Version 2.2.2]

3 Replies


MacUpdate-Lon commented on 10 May 2007
See this page for support.
travlcas replied on 10 May 2007
Thanks, I left a message there first. I ended up deleting everything with the words crystal, shape, and alpha from my computer (that were obviously parts of the program) and that got rid of the program as far as it's effects. I probably still have files everywhere from it and therefore awaiting a replay from your reference site. Thank you!
megamouse commented on 06 Jun 2007
from the Crystal Clear, the readme file tells how to get rid of SetAlphaValue


"If you want to delete SetAlphaValue, simply delete its folder in the /Library/InputManagers folder, where it was installed originally. If, on the other hand, you want to disable SetAlphaValue just for certain users on your Mac, move the SetAlphaValue folder from /Library/InputManagers to the user's home library (~/Library/InputManagers). If the user doesn't already have an InputManagers folder in ~/Library, you'll need to make one first. The InputManagers folder is one of the places Cocoa applications look when they launch to see if there are any additional attributes they need to take on... it's sort of a "plugins" folder for Cocoa."
Seamus had trouble on 08 Jan 2006
When loaded, my history menu in Safari had no items. Also, when I opened the calculator, the calculator would not appear. When I uninstalled it, all was fine again.
[Version 2.1]

tiv had trouble on 07 Jan 2006
I've used this for a while now and have been happy with it, but with this update, I've started having trouble in Safari. I like having it go to 40% when the window's in the background, but now it goes to 40% as soon as it launches and switching to another application and back is the only way to get it to 100%. Somehow it's taking the background setting and using it for the new window that pops up on launch, I guess. (I suppose it could be having this problem with other apps, too, but Safari is all I've noticed so far. Mail, at least, seems fine.)

If this is dealt with, it'll be a great extension again. Thanks.
[Version 2.0]

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Version Downloads:8,919
Type:Utilities : Desktop
Date:03 Jun 2006
Platform:PPC 32 / Intel 32 / OS X
Overall (Version 2.x):
Ease of Use:
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SetAlphaValue is extension for Cocoa applications and set the alphaValue of windows. In others words, this program is only aesthetic, just for fun.

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