The Mac OS X Dashboard isn’t the most popular feature ever introduced into the Apple Mac. Dashboard is not hated, so much, as mostly ignored. Most people don’t use Dashboard anymore. This is a shame, because with a bit of thought you can make Dashboard really useful again.
Mac Dashboard is accessed by swiping to the left (or pressing the Dashboard key on your keyboard). It displays small apps, known as Widgets, which perform tasks more simple than the full apps that run in the main interface.
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What’s wrong with the default Mac Dashboard?
Part of the problem with Dashboard is that the default apps are largely redundant. There are four Mac Dashboard widgets to begin with: Calculator, Weather, Clock and Calendar.
The Calculator and Calendar apps are not as good as those installed by default in Mac OS X; the time is displayed in the top right of the screen most of the time, which only leaves the Weather app as the one the one that’s unique to Dashboard. Most people find it more instinctive to type “weather” into Safari to get the day’s weather information instead of looking at the Dashboard
So to make Dashboard in any way useful you have to replace the stock apps that are installed by default. There are two things you can do: make Dashboard useful again, or make Dashboard fun.
How to make your Dashboard useful: remove the default apps
To make Dashboard useful you need to replace the stock apps with ones that you might use. Here’s how to remove the stock apps from Dashboard.
- Open Dashboard
- Click the Remove (‘-’)icon
- Click the Remove (‘X’) in the top right of Dashboard widgets you want to remove
We're going to suggest getting rid of all of them and starting again from scratch. Take a look at the rest of the stock widgets you can add, and line them up with the sorts of things you do.
Tip! You can quickly remove Dashboard widgets by holding down Option and clicking the Remove icon.
How to add more stock widgets to Dashboard
There are more widgets included in Dashboard. Here is how to add more Dashboard widgets.
- Click the Add (‘+’)icon
- Click on a widget icon to add it to the Dashboard
You’ll find a range of interesting stock widgets you can add to the Dashboard. Tap on Unit Converter to add a widget for converting currency, length, weight and other measurements from one standard to another.
Another neat trick is to add more than one Clock widget, and tap the Details (‘i) icon on one and set it to another time zone. This way you can have a clock in the UK and another time zone. Handy if you often work alongside people in another country.
How to find more widgets to add to Mac Dashboard
If you want to make Dashboard useful, you should look for more widgets. Click on the Add icon and choose More Widgets. Additional widgets can be located on the Apple Dashboard website, although they are installed directly from the developers website (you might find some links no longer work).
Choose a Category, Widget and click Download to download the widget to your Downloads folder. Double click the file in Downloads to extract it from its zip file, and double click the install file to add the widget to Dashboard.
Tip! You can search Google for Dashboard Widgets as many interesting widgets are not listed on the Apple website.
Mac Dashboard widgets that we find interesting
Here are some Dashboard widgets that we find interesting:
- Mighty Monitor: monitor battery life.
- iStat Pro: monitor heat and CPU usage.
- Countdown: create a timer to countdown to a date and time.
- Symbol Caddy: find and copy special characters.
- Color Converter: quickly convert colours from Byte, Float and Hex. Great for designers..
There are many productivity tools and widgets on the Dashboard, so have fun finding some that fit your daily workflow.
Turn Mac Dashboard into a quick gaming centre
If you’re not convinced that Dashboard is ever going to be useful for productivity purposes and that you’re happier just using apps and online tools, then consider turning Dashboard into a place for fun and distraction.
Here are some really neat games you can add to Mac Dashboard:
- 3D Crash Drive: a 3D stunt racer game.
- Megaman Project X: play the classic game.
- Extreme Rally Run: A game where you race with 20 other opponents.
- Asteroids: the classic arcade game.
- Missile Command: remake of the arcade game.
- Bubble Bazinga: a copy of the classic Puzzle Bobble game.
There are plenty of other games available for Dashboard. If you find Dashboard not much use as a game then you might want to turn Dashboard into an entertainment centre.
Use Dashboard Web Clip widgets to add Google Play Music and BBC iPlayer Radio to Dashboard
One neat trick is to add online services to Dashboard using the Dashboard Web Clip function. As websites become more interactive, Dashboard Web Clipper has become useful. Here’s how to turn Google Play into a Dashboard widget.
- Open Safari and go to https://play.google.com/music/listen#/now.
- Click File > Open in Dashboard.
- Use the drag handles to select all of the web page.
- Click Add.
- Open Dashboard and click on the Details icon for the Web clipping.
- Uncheck the Only Play audio in Dashboard option and click Done.
You now have an audio player that works in Dashboard.
This same technique works with the BBC iPlayer Radio website although this opens and plays radio in a separate page. It's also worth experimenting with Dashboard Web Clip widgets.
Hopefully this has given you some ideas for how to make Dashboard into something fun. If you have any other Dashboard Web Clip tricks, or favourite widgets then let us (and other readers) know in the comments.