Smackbook & Shadowbook

Posted: June 20, 2006 in (App) Software review, How To

This will only apply to Mac users, but I encourage PC enthusiests to read this as well, to kind of “see what your missing”. A few weeks back, a video was released showing a Macbook user “smacking his laptop to switch the screens from left to right, and amazed quiet a few of us. Video Here.  I have to admit that when I first saw this, I was completely amazed, due to the fact I didn’t have a good understanding of the physical chracteristics of my powerbook. I recently made a “semi-switch” from PC to mac about 8 months ago, when a virus cleaned out my inbox from thunderbird. I’ll try to briefly desribe the scenario. I use Thunderbird for my email, symantec corp for antivirus, along with frequent scans from adaware, and a nightly 2am scan from MS Windows Defender. The thing though with an typical inbox, and I don’t care if you use Eudora, Outlook, Outlook Express, whatever email app you choose is that the actual file “inbox” is read exactly as that, a single file. So let’s say you have 100 emails in your “inbox” and ONE of those emails contains a virus, antivirus solutions will just contain the entire “inbox” as infected. Now this is considering that your virus scanner didn’t detect the individual email (which obviously mine didn’t), in which that case, it may have not even allowed it to enter your inbox. Well long story short, I was unable to sav my 50k plus emails, and even though I had a backup, on a seperate partition, the virus had targeted the file exstension, and found the backup as well. 

 Now to present date, I use a mac for emails, much easier and safer, and I’ve got to admit, from being a complete PC fanatic (see all my PC rigs?) I’m in love with macs! I give credit to both where due.

 So back to the Smackbook, and Shadowbook. These handy apps take advantage of components that are built into the Macs, the Smackbook, takes advantage of the AMS sensor (Apple Motion Sensor) also referred to as the SMS (Sudden Motion Sensor). This was built into Powerbook (and the new Macbook Pro) so that in the case the laptop sensed a rapid acceleration (like falling off a desk) the sensors would make the HDD ‘brace’ for the impact. Pretty smart huh? Well some smart people out there figured out how to modify the action the sensor activates. By some simple UNIX script (well maybe not simple for someone who has never coded) you can gently tap the side of your laptop and (with Desktop manager, a free utility) you can transition desktops. 

 When Smackbook initially came out, you had to open up Terminal and manually code everything in, but some nice people went out of their way to make it all available in a nice .zip file [here] . All you have to do now is install the folder to the proper directories, open up terminal, type in: cd /Applications/Smackbook/ [ENTER] perl and voila!  smack that bitch away! Ive got to admit, it’s a insanely awesome app to have,  not only extremely handy in managing desktops, but also it gets a eye candy factor as well.

Now recently, the new “Karma induced” Smackbook was replaced by utilizing another smart feature on Macs, the light sensor, which dims or brightens your LCD and keyboard lights. There are two sensors, just like the AMS ones, located on the left and right hand side near the bottom of the powerbooks/macbooks pro (only?) Now you get this effect: See Karma Induced Smackbook Screen transition.Now instead of having to tap the side of your laptop, you can wave you hand over the light sensor. I’ve been using the smackbook for a while now, and have gotten very used to it, but I decided to give Shadowbook a try. I have to admit, while both methods are attractive, the smackbook method retains more appeal since you cannot transition left-to-right , and vice versa with the shadowbook, reason is being clarified shortly (something to do with the right side sensor is not constantly active). Ive chosen to stay with the smackbook method, but sometimes during the daytime, I use the shadowbook method for simplicity.

If you have a Macbook Pro, or a Powerbook, and need any assistance on getting it setup, or troubleshooting it, feel free to drop me a comment and I’ll be glad to help via IM (msn, yahoo, skype, google). I highly recommend this hack utility to any adept Mac user, not only does it provide a great convenience, but major “eyes over the shoulder” appeal.

I will post videos shortly on my setup and how it works.

  1. Ben says:

    Hi there would love to try the Shadow method of switching desktops. Im using Smackbook on my Macbook. I would like to use the light sensor as i really dont like to tap my macbook as i dont want to get my hard drive to get busted 🙂
    Please email me how to do it


  2. exempt says:

    download this file, there should be a readme in there, but if not, its not terminal based, so its really easy, all you have to do is set the sensitivity, but it kinda sucks only cause as the light changes , you have to manually change the light sensitivity, oh and don’t worry, the right hand side light sensor for some reason, is nowhere near as sensitive as the left hand side, so ignore the right hand side completely. Let me know if you have any problems,


  3. Jack says:

    works amazingly!!! A+++ this is sooooo sick… week up the good work!!!!

  4. Tor Øyvind says:

    I can’t get this to work on my mbp which annoys me, as i wanna show my pc mates what they are missing. and it would be useful in class so the teacher wouldn’t be able to see if i’m using a IM client. if you are able to send me a mail with the instruction (or can you add me to msn? not sure what you meant in the ‘help through IM’ bit) anyways, any help you can give me is much appreciated!

    Tor Øyvind

  5. does this work on macbooks (Not pro)?
    I installed it and when i run shadowbook i get a message at the top saying matching service not found? whats all that about?

  6. David says:

    Sorry for the delayed response Nasir, Shadowbook runs on any mac laptop that has the built in light sensor, to autodim the display brightness and/or the illuminated keyboard. I have a macbook pro, which has an illuminated keyboard , Im not 100% sure about the macbook, however smackbook will work on any mac since it uses the built in AMS sensors.

    Hope this helps

    • abbas says:

      hey, i downloaded the shadowbook 1.1 and what soul I do next? I have new mbp has light sensors. please email me.

      • David says:

        It’s been a while since I have messed around with the shadowbook, in fact it’s been a few years, I would have to see what changes were made to the AMS sensors and the code to see if in fact you can still revert the code changes and input your own functionality into it…thus making the shadowbook work correctly. If your really interested, I’m sure I could walk it through with you via crossloop

  7. Abbdul Kather says:


    Just like any mac user, i was mesmerized by the smackbook ability.

    I am using a snow leopard OS but i don’t find the smackbook function interesting with the new OS. (It doesn’t give the turn-around effect i saw in youtube.Maybe, for the previous OS.)

    Anyway, if i do not want the function. Will i need to change any script again.

    For now i have disabled spaces.Even if i enable that function, the smackbook doesn’t seem to work.

    So do i have to make any changes?

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