Un-Dashboarding your Widgets

May 21, 2008

We’ve had a fantastic response to our OSX Dashboard Widget, and are working hard to improve the functionality and vitality of all the 3rd party add-ons that have been popping up.

For those just joining the conversation, Widgets are like little mini-applications that run on your computer. The first widget-like things were probably the Desk Accessories (initially known as desk ornaments) introduced with the very first Macintosh computers. In the modern incarnation, they are little chunks of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and they provide such things as the current weather, sports scores, flight status, and movie listings. All widgets run under a program such as Dashboard, Yahoo! Widgets (formerly Konfabulator), Google Desktop Gadgets, Windows Vista Sidebar, and gDesklets. Usually a widget has to be written for a specific widget system; you can’t run a gDesklet in the Windows Vista Sidebar, for example.

FreshBooks recently released a Time Tracker Widget for OSX, allowing you to track time in your FreshBooks account, without having to open your browser and log in. It’s handy to have the widget a keypress or mouse gesture away. But for some people, out of sight is out of mind, and asked if we might provide something for the desktop. Well, the other day we had someone mention a way to pull a Dashboard widget out of the Dashboard! While not for the faint-of-Terminal-heart, it’s a really cool hack that many people may find useful.

Dashboard widgets, outside of the Dashboard!

Poof! Your Dashboard vanishes, but the widget’s still visible. Move it to where-ever you want on your screen and it’s there, running, fully functional, without the rest of Dashboard around!

I’m personally fond of keeping my widgets out of sight, as it keeps the clutter away but accessible, but I know that some people find it annoying. Now we have an answer for you!

about the author

FreshBooks is the #1 accounting software in the cloud designed to make billing painless for small businesses and their teams. Today, over 10 million small businesses use FreshBooks to effortlessly send professional looking invoices, organize expenses and track their billable time.