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Widgets


© December 2005 Tony Lawrence

I wonder how how many people like Apple's Widgets?

I know I don't. The biggest problem is their isolation from the rest of the system: they are a part of the Dock more than anything else. If you haven't used them for a while, they tend to get paged out so can take a long time to switch to.

For an iBook user, Widgets have another problem: their default activation key is F12, which is the same key the iBook uses to open the CD/DVD drive. You can change that, of course: I changed it to F8, and while I was at it made Spotlight F7 (because I often accidentally hit Apple-Space, which is Spotlight's default).

If you have a big screen, you can take some of the annoyance of your favorite Widgets away by dragging them out to your real world. To do this, you first need to (in Terminal):

 defaults write com.apple.dashboard devmode YES
 killall -HUP Dock
 
 

Now activate Widgets, and choose one as though you were going to drag it somewhere. Start dragging, and hit your Widget activation key again. That switches you out of Widget mode, so let go of the drag and now you have your widget on your desktop. It's always on top of any other window, so that's why you need screen real estate. If you decide you hate it, drag it back to Widget-land the same way: select it, hold the mouse, hit your Widget activate key, and let it drop back to its other widget friends.

Even on an iBook, this can be useful if you are going to be using a widget for a period of time. Drag it out, use it, and put it back when you are done. Leave "com.apple.dashboard devmode" at YES and you always have the option of doing this. By the way, it's not an accidental hack; it works this way to help debugging during development.

If you have no use for Dashboard whatsoever, you can do what I did: disable it.

(in Terminal)

defaults write com.apple.dashboard mcx-disabled -boolean YES
killall Dock

When the Dock restarts, drag the icon off and that's the end of Dashboard.. and you get a little memory back too.

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Inexpensive and informative Apple related e-books:

Take Control of Numbers

Take control of Apple TV, Second Edition

Take Control of iCloud, Fifth Edition

Are Your Bits Flipped?

El Capitan: A Take Control Crash Course




More Articles by © Tony Lawrence






Tue Dec 4 13:35:53 2007: 3293   TonyLawrence

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It's to bad that we can't use the new Leopard Spaces for Widgets.. there'd be no need for them always to be at the top of the Z-order



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