DoodleDesk: Draw On Your Desktop

One area where I still prefer the old way of doing things over a computer is in scribbling and doodling to reach an idea. As much as some may argue, writing in a computer just isn’t quite up there with paper and pen in terms of creative freedom, and doodling freely to form an idea is a practice that many of us have.

The app that we are reviewing today sort of tries to bring this practice to your Mac. It’s called DoodleDesk, and it pretty much does what its name says. Let’s check it out!

Getting Started

Getting Started

Getting Started

DoodleDesk is exactly what you would imagine from the title, it’s an app that gives you a whiteboard on your desktop so that you can freely draw, doodle and write in it. You can get it from the App Store for $5.99, and once you open it for the first time, it will automatically run as an icon on your dock where you can quickly access the whiteboard. Let’s get a little bit deeper into the details.


How It Works

In The Desktop

In The Desktop

Despite what you might think at first, DoodleDesk does not work directly through your desktop. Everything that you doodle will be displayed as your background, but you will not be able to directly doodle into the desktop background. To do that you need to open up the “editor”, by clicking the DoodleDesk icon on your dock.


Once there, you’ll be shown a white-ish background and a small sidebar with some tools on your right. There you can find different pen colors (black, blue and red), an eraser (and its size modifier), a stickies button, and a button to exit the editor. We’ll get into this next.




Once you have your pen color selected, you can draw right into the background that’s not covered by the dock, the sidebar or the status bar. You can switch colors and erase as much as you’d like. Everything you write or draw will automatically be updated in your desktop background, so that you can have quick access to it. However, it will only be shown in one of your spaces, the other ones (if you have them) will keep their old background images.


The “stickies” button will add a new small post-it to your doodle, where you can write in and then move it around. You can add as many stickies as you’d like. And if you want to keep the thing that you’ve drawn, you can save it as a “.dood” file so that you can open it again later; but you can’t export it as another image file type.

What You Should Use It For



Some people work differently than others. I usually have a notebook with me where I like to write and draw to get some thinking going. If you are the same way, you might find this app useful, especially if you use a lot of graphic elements in your doodles, like mental maps and things like that. I usually just stick to writing a lot, so this app doesn’t exactly fulfill my needs, but it’s still nice to have it around for when you feel like drawing something.


It might not replace image editors or conceptual map makers, but it’s a nice way to quickly jot down an idea that you might have, or organize your thoughts around something. It’s also nice to have the ability to quickly erase anything, which makes it much less wasteful than using tons of paper to doodle stuff that you won’t end up using. Another cool thing is the fact that whatever you draw can be quickly seen in your desktop, which might make your workflow faster.

Where It Falls Short

I was very intrigued by the idea of this app, and for the most part, it delivered on my expectations. I’ve always had bad experiences with apps where you are supposed to use the mouse/trackpad for drawing or writing, and this wasn’t any different. That’s not the fault of the app, but it does make the experience a bit less enjoyable. If you have a tablet and you use it with this app, then you are going to love it. Otherwise, it might become a little frustrating after a while.

Also, some more tools could be useful, like a button to quickly clean everything in the screen, some sort of undo/redo functionality, the ability to export images in useful formats, and perhaps a more intuitive way of handling the tools and colors.

If you’re in the market for an alternative, check out Desktastic from Panic. This app is in its third iteration and has a more robust feature set, but it’s also pricier ($12.95).


Overall, I feel like this is a very interesting concept for an app, and for the most part the execution is done right. For me, I think this is something that is gonna end up in the Apps folder without really being used much, but maybe you might find it more useful and adapt it better to your workflow.

The price is perhaps a bit higher than I would be willing to pay for an app like this, but if you’re gonna give it tons of use then maybe you could justify it like that. What are your thoughts?


DoodleDesk provides an easily accessible way to write or draw whatever is on your mind, and then your doodles are shown as your desktop background.