Shades is free software, and is supplied without warranty of any kind, implied or otherwise. Charcoal Design will not accept responsibility for any damage caused by any defect of any kind in the software.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I install/un-install Shades?
To install Shades, double click the Preference Pane and you will be asked if you wish to install it. To uninstall, first make sure that Shades is not running, then right-click or control-click the Shades Preference Pane in your System Preferences, and select 'Remove "Shades" Preference Pane".
I deleted the Shades Preference Pane but Shades is still running. How can I uninstall it now?
Open the Activity Monitor application (you will find this in /Applications/Utilities) and use the X button to force the Shades process to quit. Then open System Preferences > Users & Groups. Select the Login Items tab and remove Shades from the list if it's there.
Where can I find a version of Shades that works on Mac OS 10.5 Leopard or 10.6 Snow Leopard?
You can download the older 1.2b3 version of Shades here.
Where can I find a version of Shades that works on Mac OS 10.4 Tiger?
You can download the older 1.2b2 version of Shades here.
How do I make Shades launch every time I start up my computer?
Shades will automatically launch at login if it was running when you logged out. Simply start and stop Shades via the System Preference panel, and it will remember the setting.
Help! Shades has suddenly stopped working and won't respond to clicks - how can I fix it?
Make sure you have downloaded the latest version from this site. If you have the latest version, it may be that your preferences are corrupt. Quit Shades using the Activity Monitor application, then delete the Shades preferences file. You can do this by selecting Go > Go to Folder from the Finder menu, then typing ~/Library/Preferences to open the Preferences folder, then deleting the file com.charcoaldesign.Shades.plist. Then relaunch Shades.
I downloaded Shades on my Windows/Linux/Mac OS 9 computer, but I can't get it to run. What am I doing wrong?
Shades is currently designed to run only on Macintosh computers, running OS X.
I'm running Mac OS X, but when I downloaded Shades it decompressed as a strange folder with some stuff in it. What's going on?
Under OS 10.2 this is usually caused by a bug in Stuffit Expander. Upgrade to the latest version of Stuffit (Free download) and try downloading the program again. This shouldn't happen under OS 10.3 or higher since Stuffit isn't used to decompress zip files by default. If you experience the same problem under 10.3, make sure you have installed all the latest system updates (Select "Software Update..." in the Apple menu).
Will there be a version of Shades for Windows/Linux/Mac OS 9?
There are no plans to release Shades for any other platforms at this time. Shades's functionality relies on a number of Mac OS X-specific technologies that would make it difficult to port.
Does Shades run natively on Intel Macintoshes?
Yes, Shades is available as both a Universal Binary and as standalone Intel and PowerPC downloads (which are slightly smaller).
Why does Shades try to connect to the Internet when launched?
Shades checks for an updated version when it is launched. This check is performed using an XMLRPC protocol call to the Charcoal Design web site. No personal details or sensitive data is transmitted. If you wish to disable this functionality, set the "Check for updates" option in the preferences to "None".
I turned my screen fully black, and now I can't see the controls to get it back!?
Shades has an emergency brightness recovery key combination. This is set to Alt-Escape by default, but may have been set to Command-Shift-Escape or Command-Ctrl-Escape. One of these should restore your screen to full brightness.
The emergency brightness control didn't work and my screen's still black. Now what?
Restart your Mac in safe mode by holding down shift while rebooting (more details here). Then, once the Mac is restarted, delete the Shades preferences file. You can do this by selecting Go > Go to Folder from the Finder menu, then typing ~/Library/Preferences to open the Preferences folder, then deleting the file com.charcoaldesign.Shades.plist. Then restart again normally.
Didn't there used to be a background-only version of Shades?
Yes. This is no longer needed as the standard version of Shades no longer runs as a foreground application.
I found a bug, what should I do?
Please check our online bug tracker to see if it's a known problem. If it isn't then please add a new bug report and we will fix it as soon as possible.
I've got a great idea for a feature, how can I let you know about it?
Check the online bug tracker to see if anyone else has already suggested your feature. If they haven't then please add a new feature request - we're always glad to receive suggestions from our users.
Where can I find more help with using Shades?
If you need help with Shades, feel free to contact us using our online form. Remember to mention which product you require help with.

Release Notes

  • [fix] Updated Shades to work correctly on Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks.
  • [fix] Updated Shades to work correctly on Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.
  • [chg] Shades no longer supports Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. Users running Tiger should stick with version 1.2b2.
  • [fix] It is now possible to click and drag the menu bar slider again.
  • [imp] The Shades System Preferences panel can now run in 64bit mode, so it's not necessary to relaunch System Preferences in 32bit mode to use it.
  • [fix] Shades no longer writes hundreds of lines of debug code into the console when launched.
  • [new] Shades preferences are now administered using a System Preferences panel.
  • [new] Shades now provides independent controls for multiple displays, and will remember settings for external displays even when they are detached.
  • [tip] Hold down Alt when dragging the slider to adjust the brightness of all connected displays
  • [fix] Now works correctly with Expose, Spaces and Virtue Desktops.
  • [new] You can now specify a tint colour for Shades to use when adjusting brightness.
  • [new] Menu slider can now optionally display the brightness setting as a percentage.
  • [fix] Shades no longer affects the brightness of screenshots or pixel colour samples taken whilst it is running.
  • [fix] Shades now automatically detects when displays are attached or detached and does not need to be restarted.
  • [new] Shades can now be set to check for updates periodically whilst running.
  • [new] Now offers a choice of two menu bar icons (or none at all).
  • [chg] Shades can now run without any on screen controls, relying purely on hot key control.
  • [new] Brightness hot keys can now be held down instead of being pressed repeatedly.
  • [new] Brightness setting fades in smoothly when Shades is launched or quit.
  • [chg] Shades no longer appears in the Dock when running.
  • [fix] No longer causes Quicktime or DVD playback performance issues on older systems.
  • [chg] Preferences have been simplified by stripping out little-used features, and expanded to include new options.
  • [chg] Shades now varies display brightness by controlling display gamma settings. This is more efficient than drawing an overlay, and more compatible with Spaces and Expose. Existing monitor colour balance is preserved, so Shades won't cause problems for graphic designers.
  • [chg] The launch-at-login feature is now automatic. Simply start or stop Shades from the preferences pane, and if it is still running when you log out, it will launch automatically when you log in again.
  • [chg] Shades controls are no longer drawn at full brightness. This has both benefits and disadvantages, but is an inevitable consequence of using gamma instead of an overlay.
  • [opt] Shades has been optimised to use less processor time, and now consumes no measurable amount of CPU when running.
  • [fix] Fixed crashing bug that affected some users when upgrading to version 1.1.5. Users who have not experienced any issues, or who have already fixed the problem by deleting their preferences need not upgrade.
  • [new] Added option to add/remove Shades from the login items (so it is automatically launched at startup).
  • [new] Added preference to switch Shades to background-mode (no dock icon or menu bar). When you change this setting you must quit and re-launch Shades in order for it to take effect. Please note that when the menu is hidden, you must click on the menu icon or slider and press "Command-," (comma) to access the Shades preferences.
  • [fix] Shades menu item is now drawn in a theme-savvy way.
  • [fix] Function keys now work correctly when used as hot keys.
  • [new] Added function keys 13-16 as hot key options. Please note that F16 maps to the same keycode as F6, so these keys cannot be used for different functions.
  • [chg] Restructured hot key drop-downs to be more intuitive.
  • [chg] Hot key brightness adjustment now has 20 levels instead of 10. For even finer control use the slider instead.
  • [fix] Shades menu slider no longer appears behind floating windows belonging to other applications.
  • [fix] Fixed a graphical glitch with the activate hot key when using Shades with the menu extra controller disabled that caused the menu slider to appear in the corner of the screen.
  • [fix] Fixed another instance of the vertical white line bug - hopefully the last.
  • [chg] Activate hot key now brings the Shades application to the foreground, whereas previously it served no purpose if the menu extra was disabled.
  • [new] Shades now supports hot keys for controlling brightness and activating menu control.
  • [fix] Performance issues introduced in version 1.1.3 have now been rectified.
  • [chg] Scrollwheel sensitivity has been increased by a factor of 10.
  • [new] Added option to fade out menu overlay and slider when mouse has not been moved for a few seconds.
  • [chg] When menu slider is selected, scrolling the mouse wheel will vary brightness irrespective of where mouse is located on screen.
  • [fix] Fixed issue where menu icon overlay may appear offset when menu items are re-arranged.
  • [fix] Tooltips, iTunes visualiser, screensavers, Firefox contextual menus, etc no longer appear at full brightness when running Shades.
  • [fix] White overlay now correctly appears over menu when first launching Shades with brightness set low.
  • [fix] Failure to respond to clicks when menu icon is first used after launch has been eliminated.
  • [nlr] Vertical white line that sometimes appeared at top-left corner of screen has been eliminated.
  • [new] White overlay for menu icon and slider at low brightness settings.
  • [new] Added scrollwheel support for sliders.
  • [fix] Improved theme compliance for Mac OS 10.3 (Panther).
  • [new] Shades now provides a "menu extra" interface for adjusting brightness.
  • [new] It is now possible to drag the slider control between different displays.
  • [new] New "snap to corner" functionality makes it easier to position the slider.
  • [new] Added a preferences window for adjusting program settings.
  • [new] The slider can now be displayed vertically as well as horizontally.
  • [new] A new "bordered" style has been added for the slider. The original "plain" style can still be selected via the preferences.
  • [new] The slider control can be set to auto-hide when Shades is in the background.
  • [new] Shades now automatically detects when new versions are released (this can be disabled in the preferences).
  • [fix] Fixed issue where Shades failed to reappear after being hidden
  • [new] Now supports multiple displays
  • [new] Added help and feedback menus
  • [new] Initial release