Widgets on the Desktop
Obviously the Mac community does too, judging by the rapidly growing number (and diversity) of widgets available on the Internet. There are now widgets that do everything from tracking sunrise times to reviewing restaurants, and even bizarre ones like a simulated lava lamp.
My only gripe with widgets was that Apple confined them to their own "layer" (Dashboard). Maybe Apple viewed widgets as the children of the software world and banished them to play together outside, so that they didn't get in the way of the "grown-up" applications on the desktop. Maybe they just didn't realise how useful some of these widgets would be in day-to-day tasks.
For instance, I live in Australia but trade on the US markets. My trading platform displays the market time on some screens, but not others. When trading, I need to be aware of how long until the market closes. The World Clock widget is the perfect solution, apart from having to activate Dashboard every time I want to check on the time.
Well, it turns out that with a little bit of hacking you can get any widget you like to stay on the desktop, just like any other application. Simply open up a Terminal window (this application can be found in the Utilities folder) and type the following at the prompt:
defaults write com.apple.dashboard devmode YES
You then need to restart Dashboard for this to be effective. That generally means either logging out and logging back in, or restarting the Finder (using Force Quit under the Apple menu). Note that this setup will need to be done in each user account on your Mac that wants to be able to put widgets on the desktop.
That's the setup done. Now, whenever you want to bring a widget onto the desktop, simply follow these steps:
- Activate Dashboard (usually F12)
- Click and drag on the widget you want, moving it slightly from its current location
- While still holding the mouse button down, deactivate Dashboard
- Release the mouse button
Now the widget will take its place on the desktop just like any other application. If you want to return the widget to its home, simply follow the reverse procedure:
- Click on the widget and drag it to a new location
- With the mouse button still down, activate Dashboard
- Release the mouse button to return the widget to the Dashboard layer
The World Clock is just one of the many widgets that can serve a useful stint on the desktop. Why not let me know what use you find for this hack by adding your comments to this post.
BTW - This hack is just one of the many useful tricks I found in the book "Hacking Mac OS X Tiger" by Scott Knaster. Check out the link in the sidebar to see what other gems it contains.