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Graffiti: What Can’t Windows Users Do? Write on the Back of Windows!

Published March 16th, 2007

Graffiti is a SIMBL plugin that lets you flip Cocoa windows and write on the back!

Graffiti Cocoa FreewareOriginally downloaded July 4, 2006. Hard to imagine… but think dashboard widgets.  You know how they flip around to let you access preferences on the back?  Well, imagine that the back of every window of Cocoa apps were a blank page that you could write on.  Graffiti lets you flip the window around, type whatever you like, and then flip back.  You can save the text across sessions, too!  Graffiti is a plugin for the Cocoa SIMBL input manager. 

Update 3/16/07. Well, seeing as how it’s been almost 3 years since Graffiti was updated, and that it was left at a state well below 1.0 in its numbering system, it’s not surprising perhaps that Graffiti is more of a cool curiosity today than anything you can really use. That said, I’m recommending it because it’s a great demonstration of the power of Cocoa to change the abilities of Mac applications built on its framework. The first time you see Graffiti flipping your System Preferences window (or any other one) around, letting you write on its back, your jaw kind of drops. Be prepared to spend a few minutes flipping it back and forth just to see if what you wrote is actually still there. :-) Graffiti comes preset with F7 as the flipper shortcut, but in its preferences, you can set that and several other shortcut actions to whatever you’d like.

I usually keep Graffiti out of production, though, because I was experiencing some system problems related to SIMBL last year, and WebKit in particular isn’t fond of SIMBL plugins. In addition, the Graffiti code is apparently not using the correct interface to SIMBL, which you’ll discover if you peek into the Console log while running it:

2007-03-24 19:06:45.094 Console[22034] The plugin /Users/llscotts/Library/Application Support/SIMBL/Plugins/Graffiti.bundle (org.ianhenderson.Graffiti) is using a deprecated interface to SIMBL. Please contact the appropriate developer (not the SIMBL author) and refer them to

Still, there’s nothing to be afraid of in Graffiti… it’s a simple parlor trick that’s too cool to ignore. And when I whipped Graffiti out of hiding tonight and put it back in the SIMBL plugins folder, it worked like a charm. Keep this one around to be reminded of the power of Cocoa InputManagers, and revive it now and then to show a Windows skeptic a little something extra you can do with the Mac… if you want to!

Here are a few notes I took on Graffiti:



  • Very cool concept.
  • Great trick to show your friends… particularly the Windows ones.
  • Could use this to hide things on the back of windows.
  • It’s open-source, so you could peek at the code if you’re geek enough. :-)
  • Not very practical.
  • I had trouble with system stability when Graffiti was running… as I have had with several other SIMBL plugins. The WebKit code is especially unforgiving of SIMBL, it seems.
  • It’s easy to get your windows messed up if you flip them the wrong way… for example, try this in System Preferences and hit the “See All” button, which still shows even when you flip the window. Suddenly you’re down the rabbit hole… :-)
  • Graffiti doesn’t maintain text after you shut the app down, though you can save what you wrote out to disk. Not very useful, actually, for anything other than demo purposes.

Version as tested: 0.4.

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