Easter Eggs in July?

The fun thing about software is that there is a lot going on underneath that you don’t usually see. Sometimes, programmers will slip something in, just under the surface, for you to find. Sometimes it’s a picture, some specific text, or even a little game. To get them, you either have to perform a specific series of steps (such as holding down certain keys while clicking a particular spot on a screen) or you have to dig through the resource forks of the application to find them.

These hidden features don’t usually affect the documented operation of the program; they’re just a fun little surprise that’s hidden for you to find, hence the name “easter egg.”

A number of easter eggs can be found on OS X and it’s installed applications. Here are a couple that you can find easily.

Hidden Messages

Sometimes the easter egg is hidden in plain sight. There are two common applications that have a large block of text on their icons: TextEdit and Keynote. If you zoom in on their icons (using the Cover Flow view works excellently here), you can see the text isn’t Lorem Ipsum, but actual words.

Text Edit’s icon is pretty straight-forward, it’s a letter to a “Kate” from long-time Apple “user” John Appleseed. The body of the letter of the letter itself is the text from Apple’s “Think Different” campaign. (Bonus points for those who recognized the font as Apple Chancery…)

The text on the “Q4 2009” paper that sits on the podium for Keynote is a little harder to peg. Not only is it smaller (and therefore harder to read), its source is a little more obscure for most people. As it turns out, the text is actually the (slightly truncated) lyrics to “The Bitch of Living” from the Tony Award-winning musical “Spring Awakening.” Not exactly a mainstream reference, but interesting none the less.

Reversible Credits

Apple’s iTunes has a different sort of hidden easter egg. If you go to iTunes> About iTunes, you will get the standard About box with scrolling credits. Now, hold down the Option key; you’ll see the same credits, now scrolling in the opposite direction. Many of the “about” boxes in the Adobe Creative Suite 5 applications have similar behaviors. Pointless? Yeah, but it’s still neat.

Secret Games

There are several games that can be played in the Terminal, via the built-in emacs text editor. A full list can be found by typing this into a Terminal window.

ls /usr/share/emacs/22.1/lisp/play

In order to play one of the games listed, you need to do the following:

  1. Open a new Terminal window.
  2. Type “emacs” and hit return.
  3. Press the ESC + X keys at the same time.
  4. Type the name of the game you’d like to play, and hit Return.

While, these games may not technically be considered “easter eggs” (they are part of the emacs program and are covered in its documentation), they’re not something that’s known to most Mac users, so we figured we’d cover it here.

Do you have other easter eggs you’d like to share? Leave them in the comments below.


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