Desktopr: Put a Website On Your Desktop

There are two types of Mac users, those that keep their desktops sparkling clean and those who use their desktops as a digital junk drawer that holds every random scrap of content they come by.

I’m the former type. I like a good, clean desktop, often with an extremely minimal wallpaper graphic. However, I also really like added functionality. GeekTool is one of my favorite apps because it lets me make use of that void of desktop space in an attractive manner.

Today we’ll explore an alternate use of that blank desktop space by taking a brief look at Desktopr, an app that allows you replace or add to your wallpaper with a functioning web page

Meet Desktopr

When you launch Desktopr, the Preferences panel should show you a bunch of built-in options for sites to apply to your desktop. These include social media options like Facebook, news sites and even some fun options like a random Wikipedia page.

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Social Media Options

For our experiment, I’ll take the custom site route and enter something manually. I really like the simple task management service TeuxDeux and think it would be helpful to have my task list right on my desktop. All I have to do is enter the URL into the field.

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Entering a custom site

For the most part, Desktopr should work just fine on almost every website you can think of. You can set your desktop up to show anything from YouTube videos to your favorite blog feeds.

Multiple Sites

Desktopr doesn’t just allow you to set one website as your desktop, you can have a whole list of sites. Basically, you craft your list the way you want it and set the duration for each site. Dekstopr will then automatically switch between the options in the list based on your settings.

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Managing a list of sites

Additionally, you can switch through the options via the menu bar icon. Just click on it and hit the “Skip to next item” option.

The Web on Your Desktop

With that, you’re all done. As you can see in the image below, my wallpaper has disappeared and in its place is the TeuxDeux website. Pretty cool!

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TeuxDeux on my desktop

The Desktopr menu bar icon allows you to enable and disable “Browsing Mode,” which determines whether or not you can interact with the web page. With Browsing Mode disabled, the site is locked and clicking on the desktop is just like clicking on your wallpaper: all the icons are fully selectable, etc. However, with Browsing Mode enabled, clicking on the desktop allows you to interact with the site just as if it were in a web browser.

Settings

Desktopr has a modest selection of settings that you can set and tweak to make the experience a little more to your liking. You can set the font size, enable/disable JavaScript, and choose whether or not to play movies in fullscreen by default.

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Desktopr Settings

One particularly handy option is the ability to reduce the opacity of the website, which can make for a much less distracting experience that’s easier to look at. In this case, your site will fade and the original desktop image will show through.

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Reduced Opacity

A Better Desktop Experience?

For the most part, Desktopr works like a dream. I used it off and on for a couple of weeks without any noticeable bugs. I was initially concerned about how it would all work but the ability to easily flip on browsing mode really makes for a solid experience.

The biggest wall that an app like this hits is really just a conceptual one. It sounds like a cool idea, but when it comes down to it, do you really want a website as your wallpaper? I think the answer will be different for everyone and largely depends on just what you plan on doing with it. If you’re the kind of person who pops open a news site every morning with your cup of coffee, this could be a really practical way to evolve that habit into something effortless.

It’s important to note that in Lion you have not one but several desktops and Desktopr is capable of targeting one specific desktop. So if you only want your morning news on desktop three but would prefer a basic wallpaper everywhere else, that’s perfectly possible.

One thing that I would like to see is the option to not have the site take up the entire desktop space. It would be nice to have some sort of “web clip” feature that was more of a widget-ized portion of a web page.

Conclusion

I’ve seen quite a few desktop hacks over the years, everything from screensavers to videos. Desktopr is definitely one of the more practical attempts to rethink the desktop space. It’s actually quite nice to have one of my desktops devoted to my TeuxDeux list and I can easily think of fifty other sites and services that would work just as well.

If you think the web on your desktop sounds like a decent idea, I recommend checking out Desktopr. At $3.99, it’s super cheap. Further, it’s flexible enough that you can continue to adapt how you use it until you find what works best for you.


Summary

A neat little utility that allows you to set a web page or list of web pages as your desktop image. You can quickly toggle "Browser Mode" which enables you to interact with either the site or your desktop icons.

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  • Mozgovvert

    This is looking just fantastic. I’ll definitely buy it.

    • Dom

      why ?

      it’s useless and annoying imho :)

      • Mozgovvert

        There are several sites that I check every day, and they can’t be managed through RSS, like deviantArt, dribble and so on.

  • India

    I just check in the Mac App Store and at this moment (10-1-11) its .99 cent.

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  • kepasa

    Is it possible to have two different websites on two different desktops at the same time? that would be great. :)

  • Tim Lahey

    Or, you could just use NerdTool. It has an option to display a web page as one of different types of things it can display on the desktop. It’s possible GeekTool has it as well. So, you could display multiple web pages on the desktop, not just one. You can control the size displayed and the part of the page you scroll to. I use this to display Gmail keyboard shortcuts.

  • http://timmelideo.com Tim

    it’s 3.99 now

  • http://www.driks.org DRIKS

    If you can do some coding, and get a little bit creative.. You can make some cool stuff out of this I guess.. Fullscreen background webpage (to make it look like a normal wallpaper) and then add what you want to it.. I’ll give it a go later.

  • http://www.macheights.com/ Macheights

    I hate dirty desktop specially if we talk about Mac. Desktop should be clean in any case

  • ALVARO BAILE JIMENEZ

    Quisiera un Wallpapers de la Santisima Virgen Maria de Chile

  • http://www.poxihuui.info poxiaui

    I hate dirty desktop specially if we talk about Mac. Desktop should be clean in any case

  • Zak Adelman

    I love apps like these, I will make interesting live effects in jQuery and use them as wallpapers.

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