Update: Command Center Themes

Update: Command Center Themes
September 21, 2016 Oskar

It’s been two months since Command Center was released, and we are now at a point where the vision of Command Center is starting to take shape.

My intention with Command Center was to create the ultimate utility app for macOS, an app you’ll always want to keep running in the background, ready to control, monitor or otherwise enhance your Mac experience.

I’ve received tons of feature requests, and I’m now focusing on extending the functionality of the app with things such as more app settings, monitoring widgets, and music player compatibility.

First up is one of the most requested features:


Themes is a feature that existed in our old Control Center app, but it was arguably not very well implemented. The color schemes were hard to understand, didn’t always look great, and the only way of sharing themes was to manually upload them on the forums. With Command Center 1.1, I’m now adding online Theme functionality.

The Style options are gone, and instead you will now find a Themes options in the Settings. The Themes options features a list of preinstalled Standard themes, and you can create your own custom theme with any color and appearance you like. If you’re proud of your work, you can upload your theme to the online Theme repository, or simply browse and download themes that other users have created.


Besides the new Theme functionality, the app has now been completely converted to Swift 3, the UI code has been refactored, and the interface hierarchy optimized.

What does this all mean? Well, in summary, things will work better and faster. To explain it in detail, Command Center have been using some pretty advanced vibrancy effects to achieve the blurred-glass design that users have come to expect from Control Center on iOS.



To achieve this with custom UI elements on macOS, I figured out a way to fool the NSVisualEffectview class to create vibrancy effects that ignored the rules and restrictions that Apple had implemented. This allowed me to do stuff like creating buttons and labels with customized vibrant colors, like doing Dark vibrancy on a label with a Light NSVisualEffectview background and vice versa. Something that currently no other 3rd party app can do on macOS.


Unfortunately, this workaround came with a big downside: it required inserting large amounts of hidden custom views and layers. This has made Command Center both slow and resource consuming, especially during animations. With Command Center 1.1, I have finally refined this hack into a solution that is more stable, optimized, customisable and better looking. As a comparison, check out the reduction of layers in the view hierarchy and the resulting appearance:


Version 1.0.5

Version 1.1 (new)


This new solution also fixes issues such as flickering views during animations, and an issue where the album art was rendered with bright transparency.


I’m super excited about this update, and the plans for upcoming features. If you’re new to Command Center, there’s never been a better time to try it out!

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