Weekly Poll: Do You Still Use Dashboard?

When Dashboard widgets first debuted in OS X Tiger, I was immediately hooked. It was a lot like the precursor to iPhone app addiction. There were all these cool little utilities that performed tons of useful and entertaining functions. In no time at all I had a Dashboard full of widgets. I even went so far as to learn to break into certain widgets so I could customize the interface, add different sounds and perform other tomfoolery.

My fascination was fairly short lived. The “out of sight, out of mind” theory kicked in quickly and I soon began going entire weeks and months without so much as a glance at any of my widgets. Before long I closed them all down to save on memory.

These days I leave a few widgets open: weather, iStat and Google Analytics, but I rarely remember to check on them. However, the new Dashboard swipe gesture in Lion has reminded me to check on my old friend Dashboard more frequently.

It seems though that most developers have lost interest in the feature, even Apple doesn’t go out of their way to showcase widgets like they used to. In practice, Dashboard seems like an abandoned project but one that Apple is cautious about removing altogether. How long before Apple kills Dashboard completely or gives it a refresh good enough to bring it back into the spotlight? Perhaps a widget section of the Mac App Store could breathe new life into an old feature?

I’d like to know what you think of Dashboard. Cast your vote in the poll and let us know whether or not you even use it anymore. After that, leave a comment below with your opinions about what should be done with Dashboard. Is it fine the way it is? Should Apple abandon it? Should there be an App Store for widgets?


  • Iaian7

    Not only do I use dashboard widgets, I write my own; they’re the easiest way to create simple utilities and front-ends to command line utilities.

  • Herman

    I use Dashboard quite a lot – no easier way to check the weather, track shipments from different carriers, check system parameters (iStat Nano) and check for the newest Garfield comic. I don’t spend much time there, but to check things, it’s faster than firing up the browser.

  • http://www.lri.me Lri

    I’ve never used it beyond some initial twiddling when 10.4 came out. I’ve never used Dock, Exposé, Spaces, gestures, Launchpad or Lion’s full screen either.

    Apple should really go on a killing spree in OS XI or whatever, and Dashboard should be on top of the hit list.

  • http://www.metzener.com/ Dave M.

    Now that I have Lion installed, I find myself swiping over to the Dashboard space fairly often. Mostly for package delivery updates, but I have a few other widgets that I use. They don’t take all that much CPU resources and as far as memory goes, I have more issues with iTunes sucking up RAM than Dashboard widgets.

  • http://www.perezfox.com Prescott Perez-Fox

    I use Weather and Calendar (so I know the date). That’s all. I used to rock the calculator, but simple arithmetic can now be done using Alfred (or Spotlight). I suppose I could use a weather app that lives in the Menu Bar, and keep the date visible near the clock, but I’m used to hitting F19 to get those.

  • Matt D

    I still use a ton of widgets. Weather for several cities, snow report for a couple resorts, a TV guide widget, Calendar app has a great agenda list for quick viewing what I have on today without opening iCal, Remote Desktop is great for quickly monitoring what’s up with my server. Unit converter, iStat and stickies are great too.

    Do agree there hasn’t been much new software out for widgets though. Putting them onto the Mac App Store and possibly integrating into Xcode would be great for a revival of a mostly forgotten feature.

  • chris

    i dont really find Dashboard useful for my style of using..

  • Sebastiaan

    I use it all the time. Weather, satellite weather images, unit converter, calendar, mamp controls, time in a few different cities… Had a lot more configured before i did a clean Lion install though.

  • http://malcolmbastien.com Malcolm Bastien

    When I first started using my mac I set up my dashboard all the way with whatever I thought would be useful and to show me information I would want to know, like the weather. After a year though that stopped completely.

    It’s been only in the past week that I’ve started using my dashboard everyday, and that’s been to check out my site stats using this amazing Google Analytics dashboard widget: http://www.zoltanhosszu.com/gaget/

  • Robert

    Personally I think widgets are a thing of the past, they seemed great once when computers/browsers were slow and websites were clunky. Nowadays I think they’re more or less useless for every day use, we have great apps in both the mac app store and on our (i)phone that do the exact thing. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use it, if you still find some features usefull that’s great. But for me personally, I’ve fully disabled dashboard via the terminal, not for ram savings but because I like my mac clean and clutter free. Same thing goes for expose btw.

  • http://www.vuzum.com Andrei Potorac

    I use the Dashboard daily actually. :-)

    I removed it from Mission Control and replaced the Launchpad with the dashboard as it used to be, especially since the new wireless keyboard from Apple has a direct button for the Launchpad, which I don’t use it at all (prefer Alfred).

    I set-up magic mouse with the Magic Prefs app, so on three fingers click it opens up the Dashboard. :)

    I use the calculator, the calendar, the sticky notes (tens of them), the currency converter, weather, several clocks for different cities – as our offices and clients are around the world, and phicalculator, which helps me in my design process. :-)

    I wouldn’t modify a thing about the dashboard, it’s perfect as it is! :)

  • Jenn

    I mostly use iStat Nano….I do not like menu bar clutter so I am using the old free version. There are other wigets on there (2 clocks with diff time zones when I travel), my calendar and teh weather. If there was an iStat Nano that ran in the background (not in menu bar) that just displayed info overtop of my wallpaper, I would stop using the dashboard. I tried geek tools, but do not know enough mac scripting to get all the options of it.

  • laji

    I use the calculator and unit converter all the time. I do forget about the calendar there, and though I installed them, I never used any widget developer tools.

  • John

    “Still?”

  • John

    use it all the time – weather, currency convertor, tv forecast, file shredder, etc…

  • http://www.moosedesign.com MooseDesign

    I actually use the calculator, the flight tracker and the conversion widgets pretty regularly…

  • http://thegooster.wordpress.com Goos

    I still use the weather, iStat, and the language conversion gadgets.

  • http://www.scalemodelnews.com Mr J

    I press that f12 key every few minutes…

    For items like conversions, translators, contacts, wiki, dictionary, thesaurus, timezones, weather, NYT rss…

    It’s just a tap away, quick n easy, and importantly means that I run with three screens not two.

  • Noibs

    I don’t use dashboard and never have. And…it annoys me when I find a simple utility to do a small useful thing and it’s only available as a dashboard widget.

  • John

    You guys should do a widget roundup with quality widgets. Its so hard to find useful widgets amongst all christmas countdowns and funny quote shit..

  • Nathan

    I use it regularly for the dictionary and the calendar widget. I also have the calculator, weather, notes and a golden ratio widget that I use less often.

  • Framboise

    I use Weather to check out some places (infrequently), plus Unit Converter which I probably use the most (it’s tough living in Canada with the metric thing biting your ankles), and Translation, Calculator, and Flight Tracker on occasion.

  • Zoe

    I use Dashboard regularly to check the weather, translate things, use the conversion for various things and look up things in the dictionary or find alternate words in the thesaurus (I use that regularly — I’d really miss it if it were gone!) It is a little discouraging that people aren’t writing lots of new widgets or updating some of the older ones, but I certainly hope Apple doesn’t decide to “go on a killing spree” as one of the previous posters suggested. Just because some people don’t use something doesn’t mean it’s useless. It could be essential to someone else.

    An example that I’m currently outraged about is the disappearance of Expose with OSX Lion. I realize that some users never bothered with it, but for me it is an essential part of my daily routine — it is interrupting my workflow not to be able to “show all windows.”

    So in short, I hope that Apple doesn’t get rid of Dashboard and if anything, I’d like there to be more options so that older features that really worked for users can be kept if they are useful to them.

  • meh

    Played around with it a little when I first made the switch to a mac earlier this year… mostly it just takes up unnecessary space, in my opinion. I can see the usefulness of widgets on a phone/tablet but definitely not on my laptop.

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