10 Remarkably Useful Dashboard Widgets

Although Dashboard received a huge amount of attention when it was originally released, it has since become a fairly standard feature of OS X. Thousands of different widgets are available – some far more useful than others.

Today I’ll be taking a look at 10 widgets that really stand out from the crowd, and have something unique and interesting to offer you in your day-to-day computer use. I hope you find a few of them useful!

iStat Nano

iStat Nano

iStat Nano

iStat nano is a system monitoring widget with a tiny footprint and a beautifully animated user interface. It can show a range of different in-depth information about your Mac, and is completely customisable. Although it’s a touch geeky, it can be genuinely useful to gain a quick picture of how much disk space you have remaining, discover your IP address, or take a look at your CPU usage.

Price: Free
Developer: iSlayer

Twidget

Twidget

Twidget

Twidget is a free Dashboard Widget for OS X that allows you to update your Twitter status. It isn’t going to challenge Tweetie for the Twitter client crown, but offers a quick and handy way to check recent updates and post a new message – particularly if you’re a very casual user of the service. Nicely designed, simple, and completely free.

Price: Free
Developer: Aquabox

Screenshot Plus

Screenshot Plus

Screenshot Plus

Screenshot Plus can take full screen captures, grab portions of the screen, and even capture windows, desktop icons, and other widgets. Captures may be saved to the clipboard or to the hard drive, or they may be exported to any application directly from the widget. It supports a range of formats, and is a slightly more advanced alternative to OS X’s native screen capture tools.

Price: Free
Developer: Steven Chaitoff

Currency Converter

Currency Converter

Currency Converter

A great widget, that I feel should be bundled with the operating system by default. Currency Converter supports over 200 different currencies but, most importantly, works reliably and accurately. I use it regularly, and it’s a real time-saver compared to visiting a currency conversion site or using Google.

Price: Free
Developer: Palple Software

Time Machine Buddy

Time Machine Buddy

Time Machine Buddy

If you’re having problems with Time Machine (or wondering why on earth it’s taking so long!), this widget can be a real help. It organises and displays the systems logs generated when backing up, allowing you to quickly tell what is happening behind the scenes for the backup in progress or any previous backups.

Price: Free
Developer: BlueDog

Eject Volume

Eject Volume

Eject Volume

Eject Volume displays a quick and simple list of all the volumes currently mounted in OS X, and allows you to eject all the active volumes on your system in a very handy way. It’s considerably quicker than locating them on your desktop and dragging to the Trash (particularly if you have a very messy desktop!)

Price: Free
Developer: OffByte

HSLider

HSLider

HSLider

Targeted at developers using CSS, this Dashboard widget uses HSL sliders and text fields to tweak colors. Copying the new color as valid CSS (hex, RGB, or HSL) is easy. A real time saver if you regularly work with color as a designer.

Price: Free
Developer: Brandan Lennox

iTube

iTube

iTube

If you’re like me, you often find yourself wondering what the video is to a particular song in iTunes. This widget helps to satisfy that urge, and saves you surfing around the web searching for it. Very handy!

Price: Free
Developer: Philip Andrews

Wikipedia Widget

Wikipedia Widget

Wikipedia Widget

The reference book for our generation, Wikipedia is full of useful knowledge and research. This widget makes all that accessible from your Dashboard, and even allows you to make edits if the information you come across is a little suspect.

Price: Free
Developer: Sean Billig

Delivery Status

Delivery Status

Delivery Status Touch

This is a wonderful widget for tracking the progress of a parcel, and (unlike many) works with a variety of different international stores and shipping services. Really well designed with an impressive interface, and Growl support to notify you when the status of your package changes.

Price: Free
Developer: Junecloud

Conclusion

Dashboard has matured and grown impressively over the past few years, and a number of thoroughly useful widgets are available. If you’d like to explore more, Apple’s directory of Dashboard widgets is a great place to start. Have fun, and by all means share your favourites in the comments!


  • http://www.kerwin-groot.nl Kerwin

    Actually… there already is a currency converter by default.
    You can set the standard unit converter to currency.

    Not as good looking though…

  • http://www.cartogaia.com Adam

    I probably get way more use out of the Lorem Ipsum widget than I would have ever thought possible. I wish I had known about Delivery Status before the holidays though!

  • http://www.duinzand.nl willem duinzand

    One question though: am I correct that widgets stay in RAM even after you close your dashboard? Say I have 20 widgets, some of which are quite big, will it affect my work when I close the dashboard?

    • http://www.nouveller.com/ Benjamin Reid

      Check your Activity Monitor before opening and after closing the Dashboard and see if it changes usage. I imagine it stays there.

    • miniMAC

      Yes! Widgets use your RAM in background, although if is closed

  • Barry Wiseman

    Delivery status is my favorite dashboard widget– it’s companion on the iphone is a great way to keep track of incoming and outgoing shipments. More than once I’ve been working and gotten a growl notification that there was a UPS package sitting on my front doorstep.

    • http://www.grapicriver.net/user/oreius Tanner

      Totally agree got it when it was on sale and never regretted it
      if you have packages delivered to your house and have a mac/iphone
      you should own this app!

  • everlast_34

    I found iTube awhile ago and thought the idea of it was pretty sweet.
    Once its running though, it always seems to be 10 seconds or so behind the song that is playing. Lame…

    • SJ

      it doesn’t seem to work any more – just like most of the other apple widgets

  • http://mosotomoss.wordpress.com/ Mosotomoss

    I just got iTube. I like it a lot. I didn’t think I would be using it a lot. But I do.

  • http://www.kaplang.com/blog Michelle

    Great list :) I don’t really use such features but it is always nice to be aware of what is available.

  • Mark Osborne

    Great list! I’ve been looking for some useful dashboard apps to try and utilise it more.

  • http://czentnar.try.hu Simon

    These are really useful!

  • http://www.halfpixelstudio.com pista

    What I can strongly recommend: Save your RAM and GET RID of any of these. All this stuff is available online or on your computer. Get rid of widgets, you’re not using them daily right?

    For example to find currency—type “(number) (currency) to (currency)” to Google and voila there is your information, you don’t need to have running currency application in the background all the day don’t you? For any other use quicksilver, much more faster and efficient.

    Make your life simpler=faster.

    • http://bclennox.com Brandan Lennox

      And if you need to tweak a color in your CSS, just pop open Photoshop real quick and use their color picker, right? ;-)

      Dashboard is consuming 57MB out of my 4GB of RAM (about 1%) to run 8 widgets. It’s negligible. Plus the whole point of Dashboard is one-click access to an assortment of tools, so you don’t have to find/open your browser, visit Google, be aware of the domain-specific language Google uses to convert things, wait on an HTTP round trip, etc.

  • http://www.minimamente.com/ miniMAC

    This is my favourite! For searching album in iTunes (AWESOME!) link!

  • http://h3h.net/ Brad Fults

    I’ll nominate Dashnote, which is clean, simple and immensely useful if you already use Simplenote for the iPhone.

  • http://bradysewall.com Brady

    I use “Stop Dashboard” (http://www.natal.be/2005/10/stopdashboard-widget/)on a daily basis. Basically it unloads all your widgets, freeing your RAM.

  • http://www.m65jacket.com m65

    good share thanks for this

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  • http://www.martinvaresio.com.ar Orfebreria

    Get rid of widgets, you’re not using them daily right!!

  • stephen

    Unfortunately most of the widgets on the Apple website are broken links, including their #1 top widget. They don’t seem to have updated the page…Even some that work are not the latest versions…but Ive found 80-90% don’t work at all. From what Ive gathered, Dashboard started in 05 and since then developers have discovered they can make money by creating iPhone and iPad apps so they have stopped updating and maintaining their widgets…and Apple has apparently not maintained the site…Apple employees first told me that Dashboard wouldn’t exist in Lion, but ironically its more prominent as its featured in Mission Control. Ive reported the problem repeatedly but Apple apparently doesn’t care and nothing is being done…SO if you find GOOD worthwhile and WORKING widgets please let me know.

  • Guy

    TweetMyDash http://ginkapps.com/tweetmydash is a good alternative to Twidget. I find it a bit more compact.

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