On OS X, I want to show an always-foregrounded, transparent image while working on the application underneath it, for tracing purposes. As mentioned in this other stackexchange question, the solution is the application called afloat.

Great, so how do I get it to work? The old domain now just redirects to a github project page. There is no README, and there are no installation instructions. I found a closed/wontfix "how to install" ticket, and pieced together some probable instructions. This is what I have so far:

  1. Download the SIMBL zip file
  2. Unzip the file
  3. Double-click/install SIMBL-0.9.9.pkg
  4. Create SIMBL bundle dir: mkdir ~/Library/Application\ Support/SIMBL/Plugins/
  5. Reboot
  6. Install from the git repo:

$ git clone https://github.com/millenomi/afloat.git
$ cd afloat
$ xcodebuild -configuration Release install
  # verbose output trimmed, except for last line:
$ mv /tmp/Afloat.dst/Users/`whoami`/Library/Bundles/Afloat.bundle/ ~/Library/Application\ Support/SIMBL/Plugins/

So now what? Did I do this correctly? Am I supposed to see additional "Window" menu options?

  • I tried building this, but was getting the message, "error: garbage collection is no longer supported". I found some discussion on another project explaining that Apple was deprecating garbage collection (github.com/tomaz/appledoc/issues/435) because they want people to transition to automatic reference counting (developer.apple.com/library/ios/releasenotes/ObjectiveC/…)
    – Casebash
    Nov 6 '14 at 2:31
  • 1
    On Yosemite 10.10.2 with XCode 6.11 I get 8 of these error: garbage collection is no longer supported
    – Dzh
    Feb 3 '15 at 10:05

It appears that this did work. I did find that my X11 app had the extra Afloat options in the Window menu. Reading around, it seems it only works on Cocoa apps, so I guess X11 is Cocoa but nothing else is.

I also found a downloadable dmg installer. I'll try this out too.

  • Yeah, the Cocoa apps only is a huge pain :-(
    – Casebash
    Jul 19 '14 at 8:22
  • 1
    FYI: The installer also installs a spam-toolbar
    – Daniel
    Dec 11 '14 at 10:15

I recently tried to install it on Mavericks and couldn't get any of the above instructions or downloads to work. I found a compiled download linked from this helpful article at http://www.chrisvanpatten.com/master-windows-afloat-mac which links to an installer (currently version 2.4) at http://mac.majorgeeks.com/files/details/afloat.html

The instructions and downloads worked great and all is well on Mavericks.

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