How long has it been since you used your Mac’s Dashboard?
If you’re like most users, it’s been a long time – and that’s too bad. While many users have forgotten it’s there, the Dashboard can be a quick way to check a wide variety of information, from tracking packages to sending texts to finding special characters.
It doesn’t help that Apple seldom issues updates for this widget screen, though Mavericks did bring the ability to move the Dashboard in Mission Control. The main problem, in 2013, is that decent widgets can be hard to find. With that in mind, here are 11 actually useful widgets worth installing even if you’ve forgotten the Dashboard still exists.
Know When To Expect A Package
A package is coming. You want to know when. Delivery Status is the widget you’re looking for.
This handy tool lets you know when to expect almost any package, and seemingly supports every delivery service on earth. It even notifies you as your package moves around the planet, making it useful even if you rarely check the Dashboard itself.
If you get packages regularly, and own a Mac, there’s no excuse: you should be using this widget.
Keep Up With The Weather
Weather happens pretty much everywhere, I’ve noticed. Keeping track of it is also probably the single best argument for something like the Dashboard: it’s information you only need occasionally, but want quickly when you do.
I showed you Mac apps for keeping up with the weather, but my personal favorite tools is the Official Wunderground widget for OS X
Seeing radar, forecasts and a text description all at a glance is hard to beat – even if this particular widget is ugly. If you don’t need all that information, and want something beautiful, I’d recommend the default widget that comes with your Mac.
Scheduling meetings across time zones can be a pain. Ask anyone who works for MakeUseOf: our staff is scattered from Australia to the Middle East and Europe to North America. Planning meetings can be confusing, but happily Timescroller can help.
Add as many cities as you like. You’ll see the current time, and can move the slider to see others. It’s and simple way to calculate time zones, and essential for anyone who coordinates with people overseas.
Always Know The Score
Believe it or not, many Mac geeks are also sports fans. If you count yourself among them, you owe it to yourself to check out the Sports Fan Widget. With support for the “big four” sports in North America – baseball, basketball, football and hockey – this app lets you oversee realtime scores across your preferred league:
Follow more than one sport? Add the widget multiple times, then change the sports in the settings.
Control Your Media Center
Do you have XBMC on your TV? Then you need the XBMC remote widget for OS X on your Mac. The buttons work as you’d expect, but the real treat is using your keyboard when the widget is selected: you can control XBMC as though your Mac’s keyboard was plugged into your XBMC device.
It’s only useful, obviously, if XBMC is installed on one machine and the widget is on another. And the inability to browse the media library is disappointing. Still, this deserves a spot on your dashboard.
Sure, this is one of the widgets that comes by default, but it still warrants a mention. The Unit Converter does everything from distance measurements to currency, and proves its usefulness usually about once a day for me.
Countdown To Anything
Looking forward to an upcoming holiday? Remind yourself how long you have to wait with the Countdown Widget, which lets you count down until anything in the Dashboard
It’s amazing how a simple countdown can remind you of all the good things you have to look forward to.
Check Your Texts
Are you a Google Voice user? You should be using GV Connect, which lets you send Google Voice SMS message front the Dashboard.
The app lets you send text messages, but only lets you read them in a Growl notifications. Still, it’s a quick way to send a text.
Monitor RSS Feeds
Want to keep up with some feeds? The RSS Reader Widget lets you add as many feeds as you want.
Scroll through headlines, or use the arrow to switch feeds. Simple.
Find Special Characters
You need to add a price to an email – in Euros. How do you do that again? You could memorize the keyboard shortcuts for every obscure symbol on earth, or you could just download Symbol Caddy. This widget lets you quickly find and copy special characters
What’s cool is that when you click a symbol, it’s instantly added to your clipboard and ready to be pasted wherever necessary.
Not sure you’ll ever use any of these widgets? You could give up and just grab some games for your Mac’s Dashboard. This is particularly recommended if you’re a Sudoku fan:
Want even more widgets to explore? You could check Jackson’s 2008 list of Dashboard widgets you can’t live without, though note that many of these may not exist any more.
It’s also worth noting that you can run widgets on your desktop as well, if you want.
And, of course, it’s always worth checking out the comments below. We can share even more ideas down there.