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 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.
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.
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.
Developer: Steven Chaitoff
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.
Developer: Palple Software
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.
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!)
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.
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!