Would you rather have your boring desktop space filled with useful system information or family photos? If your desktop is looking a little boring you can add an extra layer of customization with GeekTool, a Mac OS X application which adds applets to your desktop called “geeklets”.
These are similar to gadgets and widgets in Windows and Conky, a very similar desktop enhancement for Linux. Just how flexible are these geeklets? Let’s find out.
GeekTool comes with three different geeklets – text, image, and shell.
A text geeklet allows you to display the contents of any plain text file. As an example, if you use the todo.txt method of keeping a to-do list, then this is a perfect way to display your to-do list on your desktop at all times. You can also set formatting options for font and color.
An image geeklet unsurprisingly allows you to display an image on your desktop. Since you can resize geeklets, you can resize the image to whatever dimensions you’d like. You may also choose an image using a URL rather than choosing a locally-stored image – which can also include a dynamic image that often changes.
What’s more, you can choose an entire directory of images for GeekTool to display. Everything is customizable of course – you can tell the geeklet to refresh after a certain amount of seconds, set the opacity as well as choosing whether to run in order or randomly.
Finally, a shell geeklet allows you to display the output of a terminal command. This requires some knowledge of terminal commands, or the ability to find them on the web. You can use the shell geeklet to display just about anything since terminal commands are so flexible. You could display the date, time, and calendar, or a list of the top running processes that use the most amount of system resources. This is by far the most useful geeklet of all, but you’ll need to know your commands in order to get the best use out of it.
Here’s an excellent list of GeekTool shell commands compiled by MacRumors forum members – simply place them in the “command” field under your geeklet’s properties. If you’re new to the Terminal, you can broaden your knowledge with five useful commands, four simple commands, and the many other things you can do in a Mac terminal.
GeekTool is a very flexible tool and can do a lot to spice up your desktop. It’s completely free to download and use, so why not give it a try?
What interesting desktops have you created thanks to GeekTool? Do you have any useful commands you could share with others for use in the shell geeklet? Let us know in the comments!