Mac Tip #211/07-September-2005

Tiger (Mac OS X 10.4) brought us a new feature called Dashboard, which apparently bears a remarkable resemblance to a third-party product called Konfabulator, which worked in systems before Tiger. Konfabulator (approx 5Mb) is now free, so if you don’t have Tiger you may like to experiment with it.

Those of you who also use Windows may be interested to know there’s also a version for Windows XP and WIndows 2000.

While I hadn’t used Konfabulator, I have been using Dashboard for both fun and profit.

First visit the System Preferences (under the blue Apple menu) and click on the Dashboard & Exposé pane. Here you can set Dashboard to activate by a certain key command or by moving the mouse to a corner of the screen (or both). I’ve set it to activate if I move the mouse to the bottom left corner as I don’t otherwise go there much.

Now close the System Preferences and activate Dashboard by whatever method you chose.

Once you activate it a transparent grey overlay covers the screen. This may or may not contain some default widgets.

A widget is a bit of programming which does something, such as tell you the weather forecast or the time in various parts of the world, or play games or convert celsius to fahrenheit or hundreds of other things. There are now more than 1,000 (free) widgets available.

To see all the widgets currently installed on your Mac click the white plus sign which appears at bottom left of the Dashboard screen.

To activate a widget click it once and wait a moment.

To close the widget again either click the white x in a black circle at its top left or hold down the Option key to make that close button visible and then click it.

To return to your normal Mac use just click anywhere on the screen (outside a widget).

All widgets should have a small letter i somewhere visible, such as in the bottom right corner. Click that i for more information and to set preferences for the widget.

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