The Dashboard might be the most neglected feature of OS X. When it was introduced in OS X 10.4 Tiger, there was a lot of initial developer support, and widgets only remained popular for a few years. Unfortunately, the Dashboard has been pretty much forgotten today.
While Apple keeps making improvements to the Dashboard, they haven’t kept up their database of widgets – and indeed, only a handful of Widgets are still actively being updated. Nevertheless, I took a liking to Widgets from nearly the very beginning after purchasing my Mac, and despite its lack of developer support, I still find the Dashboard to be extremely useful.
For those of you in my boat that still use Dashboard (or would at least consider it), I’ve rounded up a few of the most useful Widgets to help you make the most of the experience! I still use most of these widgets on a daily basis.
An incredibly handing app for tracking shipments and orders. Includes support for tracking from dozens of different companies, both in the U.S. and internationally, as well as directly tracking orders from retailers such as Apple and Amazon.com. Unlike most widgets, Junecloud still frequently updates this one!
If you use a bluetooth keyboard, mouse, or trackpad with your Mac, you’re likely painfully aware of what a chore it can be to keep track of how much battery life you have left in your devices. Battery Level is here to help, displaying your remaining battery percentage each time you upen the dashboard, with no setup required!
3. Eject Volume
Eject Volume is a small widget for the MacOS X Dashboard that allows you to eject any active volume on your system right form your dashboard. The widget lists all active disk images, external drives, networks volumes or CDs and provides an eject button for each listed volume in order to eject it when the button is clicked.
TeaTimer is a widget that reminds you of all that stuff that you always forget and that then either gets bitter/cold (your tea) or burned (your pizza). To alarm you, it can play a sound, play a voice message or even use Growl. Of course you can select which type of alarm you wish. You can also choose between different background colors for TeaTimer to suit your Dashboard.
5. CountDown X
If you have a certain holiday or event you’re looking for, the natural response is to count down the days on your calendar, but checking your calendar every day is just one more thing to add to your routine. Countdown X can handle that for you by showing you how many days (and hours, minutes, and seconds) are left!
A very useful widget to easily calculate currency conversions between more than 200 world currencies, plus all the old legacy european currencies! The widget automatically keeps up to date with exchange rates, so you can be sure its calculations are current.
7. iCal Events
Always know what’s next on your schedule using iCal Events. iCal Events displays upcoming events from multiple iCal calendars in a beautiful, resizable widget for Dashboard. You can see up to two weeks of upcoming events in the same widget without needing to open iCal. Need more info? Mouse over a calendar color to view the name of the calendar, or mouse over an event’s start time to see when the event ends.
- iStat Pro is a highly configurable widget that lets you monitor every aspect of your Mac, including CPU, memory, disks, network, battery, temperatures, fans, load & uptime and processes. iStat Pro can do it all.
- iStat Nano takes up a bit less space, and can show you detailed statistics about almost every aspect of your Mac, including CPU, memory, hard drive space, bandwidth usage, temperatures, fan speeds, battery, uptime and the top 5 processes.
As the name suggests, this widget checks the Apple Online Store’s current status (online, offline) and shows it in the widget. When the store goes on again, you can get there with a click on a widget. This can be a useful way to be alerted when a new product is being added!
10. Mail Checker
This is a very simple dashboard widget that displays the number of unread messages in your Gmail or Yahoo! mail account. The stamp will turn red when you have mail waiting – the number will also increase to display the number of unread messages. Clicking on the stamp will open your mail inbox in your default web-browser.
I still believe the Dashboard has some life in it – and there are probably ways that Apple could make the Dashboard more relevant to today’s users – perhaps by including Widgets in the Mac App Store, or promoting it as a feature. Hopefully some of these widgets will help convince you that the Dashboard isn’t dead yet!
Did we miss any of your favorite Widgets? Let us know in the comments!