Dashboard Tricks

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Dashboard can be configured via preferences just like any application that runs on Mac OS X.  Dashboard Preferences are set under the Expose and Spaces area in Mac OS X Leopard, Snow Leopard, Lion, Mountain Lion, Mavericks, Yosemite or El Capitain and Dashboard and Expose area in Mac OS X Tiger.  These are located under he Mac OS X System Preferences application.

In Mac OS X:

Via System Preferences

  1. Launch System Preferences
  2. Click on Expose & Spaces

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Shortcut Key (Hot Key)

As you can see, F12 is the default hot key or shortcut to launch Dashboard as shown to the right of “Hide and show”.  You can alter it by clicking on the drop down box and select an alternate key.  You can disable Dashboard launches from the keyboard by selecting the dash underneath F13.  You can also launch Dashboard via a click of the mouse by configuring the drop down menu on the right.

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Active Screen Corner

These work essentially the same in Mac OS X Leopard and Mac OS X Tiger.  You can set an Active Screen Corner, a corner of your screen that when clicked with the mouse will launch Dashboard.

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In Mac OS X Tiger

Via System Preferences

  1. Launch System Preferences
  2. Click on Dashboard and Expose

Via Dashboard (shown to the right)

  1. Click and hold on the Dashboard icon in the Dock.
  2. Click on Dashboard Preferences in the pop up menu

Both methods will take you to the Dashboard and Expose area within Mac OS X System Preferences.

Shortcut Key (Hot Key)

As you can see, F12 is the default hot key or shortcut to launch Dashboard.  You can alter it by clicking on the drop down box and select an alternate key.  You can disable Dashboard launches from the keyboard by selecting the dash underneath F13.

Active Screen Corner

You have the option to set an Active Screen Corner, a corner on the screen that when clicked with the mouse will launch Dashboard.

Configure and Customize

You can configure and customize Dashboard to your liking.  You can add, remove, and reposition widgets.  Customizing Dashboard starts off by clicking the plus sign that appears in the lower left corner of the screen when Dashboard is launched.

You can also perform this step by simultaneously pressing the Command and + keys

When clicked you’ll notice two things happen.  The first will be the display of a bar showing all installed widgets installed on your Mac will appear at the bottom of the screen.  Just scroll through the widgets by clicking on the arrows to the left and right of the bar to see what’s available.

The second will be the addition of a small x encapsulated in a circle on the upper left corner of all active Widgets.

Add a Widget

It’s easy to add a widget to Dashboard.  Just drag it from the widget bar and place it anywhere you would like it to appear when Dashboard is launched.  You’ll soon see a cool ripple animation as it is added.  You can also add a widget by clicking on it’s icon in the widget bar.  Once clicked, it will be placed in the middle of Dashboard.  You can then move it where you like.

Manage Widgets – The Widgets Widget

Managing your widgets is easy.  When the Widget bar is active you will see an icon that says “Manage Widgets…”.  When you click on it Dashboard will display a widget manager known as the Widgets Widget.  To disable a Widget, just uncheck the box to the left.  You can use the white scroll bar on the right to view all installed Widgets.  You can sort the Widget by Name or Date by pulling on the drop down menu on the top.  If you click on “More Widgets” you will be taken to Apple’s Widget download page.

Remove or Hide a Widget

As show above, a small x is activated when the “Manage Widgets” button is clicked on.  To remove a Widget from Dashboard just click on the x and observe how the Widget disappears.  There is another way to remove and hide a Widget without usng the Widget bar.  Press the Option key and place your mouse over a Widget.  You will see the encapsulated small x appear only on that Widget.  Look at the calculator below:

Reactivate a Widget

If you ever want to reactivate it, just follow the procedures outlined in Add a Widget.

Top Dashboard Tricks

Slow Motion

You can make Dashboard appear in slow motion by pressing the Shift key when you launch Dashboard.  For example, press Shift and click the Dashboard icon in the Dock.  Soon you’ll see the Widgets appear in slow motion.  Repeat the step to make them disappear in slow motion.

Refresh a Widget

Simultaneously press the Command key and R to perform a refresh.  Watch as the Widget performs a twisting action.  This is useful for widgets that rely on changing information such as stock quotes.

Close a Widget

Hold down the option key while hovering the cursor over an open widget.  A close button (X in the upper right) will appear.  This is a quick way to close a widget without having to use the Widget widget.

Open / Close the Widget Bar with a keystroke

Simultaneously press the ‘Command’ and ‘=’ buttons to open or close widget bar at the bottom of the screen when Dashboard is open.

Location of Widgets

Where are Widgets stored?  Mac OS X stores Widgets in one of two directories and the location depends on whether the Widget is provided by Apple, installed by an application, or installed by a user.

/Library/Widgets Folder

The Apple supplied Widgets are stored in the /Library/Widgets folder that is located under the Macintosh HD.  If you have installed third party software on you Mac, it may have also installed a Widget in this directory.  For example , I have installed a program called “Personal Backup” and the installation program placed the Personal Backup Widget in this folder.  Navigate to the folder listed above to see the Widgets.By placing the Widget in this directory, other users on the system will be able to use the Widget in their Dashboard.widget_library_01.png

/User/Library Folder

If you install a Widget via the Dashboard Widgets Widget or via a download from a web browser and perform an installation, the Widget will be placed in your Users Library folder under your Home Folder.For example, If you installed the “iStat pro” widget so it was placed under the Home Folder and will not be  accessible by any other user or their Dashboard.  For example, the downloaded Widgets will be installed at: (note that the ~ indicates your Home folder):

~/Library/Widgets

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Keep Widgets in their Location

If a Widget is moved to another folder on the Macintosh HD it will not be located by Dashboard so keep the Widgets in their appropriate folders.

Mac OS X ushered in a feature called Dashboard, a cool application that hosts and runs Widgets, small lightweight applications that can be summoned with a click of the mouse or a keystroke  (hotkey).

By default, Dashboard is configured with the following four widgets in Mac OS X:

  • Calculator
  • Calendar
  • Clock
  • Weather

Apple provides you several widgets right out of the box.  For example, you can enable ones to check stock prices, flight information, sport scores, and more.  You can download additional widgets directly from Apple or third parties application vendors/suppliers.  In fact many software vendors who create software for the Mac also include widgets that can be installed and enabled on your Mac.

It doesn’t stop there, you can even create your own Widgets.  In Mac OS X, the functionality of Dashboard has been extended to allow you to create widgets directly from any web page.

Launch Dashboard

A default installation of Mac OS X will include the Dashboard icon. on the Dock  You activate Dashboard by clicking the icon or hitting the F12 (default hotkey) key on the keyboard.  An animation occurs where Dashboard launches on top of anything visible on the desktop, the screen dims the screen as widgets appear.

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Close Dashboard

You can close Dashboard by either clicking the appropriate hotkey (often depends on the Mac model and revision), by clicking on a shaded portion of Dashboard,  or by clicking on the Dashboard icon in the Dock.  Dashboard will close by disappearing to once again show you a bright Desktop as it exists underneath Dashboard.