Computers, Laptops & Tablets Apple Widgets on Your Mac Desktop Use terminal to free your widgets from the dashboard By Tom Nelson Writer Tom Nelson is an engineer, programmer, network manager, and computer network and systems designer who has written for Other World Computing,and others. our editorial process Facebook Twitter Tom Nelson Updated November 15, 2019 Apple Macs iPad Tweet Share Email One of the cool features of the Mac OS is the Dashboard, a special environment where widgets, those mini-applications designed to perform a single task, reside. Widgets are cool. They let you quickly access productive or just plain fun applications by switching to the Dashboard environment. You can even create your own Dashboard widgets. The not-so-cool part of widgets is the Dashboard environment. Apple created Dashboard so that widgets would run inside a specially protected area. You can think of Dashboard as a corral; the widgets inside Dashboard can’t get to the system or user data outside Dashboard. The downside is that you have to leave the Mac desktop and enter the Dashboard application to access the widgets, a process that makes widgets inherently second-class application citizens. Wouldn't you much rather have the widgets you want to use available at all times, right on your desktop? Lewis Mulatero / Getty Images Fortunately for you, that’s easy to do. Apple even provides documentation about how to do it because widget developers need to run their widgets on the desktop so they can debug them during the development process. You can take advantage of the same Terminal trick that Apple developers use to put widgets on your desktop. Apple has not put a great deal of development work into widgets recently, which may signify that widgets as a supported feature of the Mac OS may be drawing to a close. However, until Apple obsoletes them, you can still find good uses for widgets. If you want to move a widget to your desktop, follow these instructions: Use Terminal to Enable Dashboard Development Mode Launch Terminal, located in /Applications/Utilities/Terminal. Enter the following command line into Terminal. You can copy and paste the text into Terminal or type the text as shown. The command is a single line of text, but your browser may break it into multiple lines. Be sure to enter the command as a single line in the Terminal application. defaults write com.apple.dashboard devmode YES Press enter or return. Enter the following text into Terminal. If you type the text rather than copy and paste it, be sure to match the case of the text. killall Dock Press enter or return. The Dock disappears for a moment and then reappears. Enter the following text into Terminal. exit Press enter or return. The exit command causes Terminal to end the current session. You can then quit the Terminal application. How to Move a Widget to the Desktop, (OS X Mountain Lion or Later) OS X Mountain Lion or later requires an additional step. By default, the Dashboard is considered part of Mission Control and is treated as a Space. You need to first force Mission Control not to move the Dashboard into a Space: Launch System Preferences by clicking its Dock icon or selecting System Preferences from the Apple menu. Select the Mission Control preference pane. Remove the check mark from the item labeled Show Dashboard as Space (Mountain Lion or Mavericks), or use the drop-down menu to set Dashboard to display As Overlay (Yosemite, El Capitan. and macOS Sierra). Continue the instructions below for moving Widgets to the Desktop (OS X Mountain Lion or earlier). How to Move a Widget to the Desktop (OS X Mountain Lion or Earlier) Press F12 (on some keyboards you may need to hold the Function key down or make sure the keyboard has F-Lock turned on), or click the Dashboard icon in the Dock. Select a widget by clicking it and holding down the mouse button. Still holding the mouse button, move the widget slightly. Keep holding the mouse button until the end of the next step. Press F12 (don't forget the Fn or F-Lock if needed) and drag the widget to the location of your choice on the desktop. Once the widget is where you want it, release the mouse button. Widgets that you move to the desktop always reside in front of the desktop and any applications or windows you may have open. For this reason, moving a widget to the desktop may not be the best idea if your Mac has a small display. You need plenty of room for widgets for this trick to be useful. Return a Widget to the Dashboard If you decide you don’t want to have a widget take up permanent residence on your desktop, you can return the widget to the Dashboard by reversing the process. Select a widget on the desktop by clicking it and holding down the mouse button. Still holding the mouse button, move the widget slightly. Keep holding the mouse button until the end of the next step. Press F12 and drag the widget to the location of your choice in Dashboard. Once the widget is where you want it, release the mouse button. Press F12 again. The widget you selected disappears, along with the Dashboard environment. Use Terminal to Disable Dashboard Development Mode Launch Terminal, located in /Applications/Utilities/Terminal. Enter the following text into Terminal as a single line. defaults write com.apple.dashboard devmode NO Press enter or return. Enter the following text into Terminal. Be sure to match the case of the text. killall Dock Press enter or return. The Dock disappears for a moment and then reappear. Enter the following text into Terminal. exit Press enter or return. The exit command causes Terminal to end the current session. You can then quit the Terminal application.