How-To: Know your APE status before upgrading to Leopard

After the ruckus resulting from having outdated versions of Unsanity's Application Enhancer (APE) installed while upgrading to Leopard, we received a number of questions from readers as to how one can determine whether APE is installed, as well as what version it is. To make sure everyone's on the same page, we decided to do some digging, chatted with Unsanity, and got the low-down on how to proceed with APE and Leopard. 苏州美睫美甲

What are we talking about?

For a quick summary on what all the fuss is about, Unsanity's Application Enhancer allows "haxie" utilities to modify the behavior of Mac OS X and its applications. This includes its own apps like ShapeShifter for applying new themes and buttons to Mac OS X's Aqua UI, as well as enhancements like Windowshade X which allows a number of window management options and customizations. A criticism of APE, however, is that to pull of some of its trickery, it needs to hook into some areas of Mac OS X that are deemed off limits by many developers and Apple itself. Check out John Gruber's exploration of this particular aspect of the discussion for more information on what's going on here.

You may be APEd and not even know it

For now, we're just interested in helping you navigate the situation. One potential problem with APE is that it sometimes gets installed along with drivers from some manufacturers, as well as software from third parties, without the user specifically knowing about it (Logitech is apparently the only device manufacturer with a public product that installs APE along with some—but not all—drivers). Now, these companies have their reasons for using APE, and again, we're not delving into the discussion of whether this is right or wrong. For the record, however, Unsanity says that every manufacturer and developer that uses their APE to any degree tells their customers in a ReadMe or license file included with the product. We could delve into the dynamics of how often ReadMe files do anything but collect virtual dust, but again, that's a discussion for another time.

We assume that you're reading this far because you have either installed APE for one reason or another, or you think it might have been installed by another product and want to make sure you have the most up-to-date version. Fortunately, Unsanity tells us the solution is pretty easy.

What to do

Because some third parties install APE in in various forms depending on their needs, Unsanity gave us a pretty simple solution no matter what angle you're coming from: "Using the [APE] installer is the best way to confirm what version you have installed, as it has some special logic for half installs and half uninstalls users may have done manually or if they did an archive and install or system migration (APE is designed to disable itself in either case)," Unsanity's Rosyna Keller told Ars. So by downloading the latest version of APE (DMG link to 2.0.3, released March 2007), everyone can get up to speed. Even if you don't want to install it, a version check should appear in the lower left of the Install window (just before you hit the Install button). If you're at 2.0.3, congratulations! You may upgrade to Leopard. Your upgrade should go smoothly (or at least won't be impeded by APE), and the worst that happens is your haxies get disabled. If you have a previous version, this installer should let you know and give you the option of upgrading. If you have no version installed, then lucky you.

For now, Unsanity does not recommend uninstalling APE and then upgrading to Leopard, as that could cause problems with any APE-dependent components or drivers you have installed. It could also cause issues with updating APE or said third-party components, so uninstalling is more or less a no-no. Long story short: if that installer tells you that APE is on your system, make sure you're up-to-date and upgrading to Leopard should go smoothly. If APE simply isn't on your machine, then what are you waiting for? Go get your upgrade on.