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How to Use Mac OS X Snow Leopard’s Dashboard

One of Snow Leopard’s most popular features is Dashboard, which you can use to hold widgets and display them with the press of a button. For example, Dashboard comes complete with a calculator, a clock, a weather display, and a quick-and-simple calendar. You can display and use these widgets at any time by pressing the Dashboard key; by default, that’s F12 on older keyboards (and F4 on current keyboard models), but you can modify the key on the Exposé & Spaces pane within System Preferences. Snow Leopard also includes a thoughtful Dashboard icon in the Dock, which you can click to display your widgets.

When you press the Dashboard key, the widgets appear, ready for you to use. When you click the Add button, a scrolling menu strip appears at the bottom of the Dashboard display, and you can drag new widgets directly onto your Dashboard from this menu. It’s also easy to rearrange the widgets that are already populating Dashboard by dragging them to the desired spot. Press the Dashboard key again to return to your Snow Leopard Desktop.

To add or delete widgets from the Dashboard, click the Add button in the lower-left corner.
To add or delete widgets from the Dashboard, click the Add button in the lower-left corner.

Most widgets have an option button that allows you to change options, such as borders, ZIP Codes, display columns, and the like; look for a tiny circle with a lowercase letter i. Click this information icon and you can tweak whatever options are available for that widget.

To remove a widget, just click the Add button to display the menu strip, and click the X button that appears next to the widget you want to remove. You can add it back again at any time from the strip.

While you’re adding or deleting widgets, you can also click Manage Widgets, which displays a dialog where you can sort your widgets in a list by name or date added, disable any widget, and delete a widget (click the red minus icon next to the offending widget in the list). Click the More Widgets button to jump directly to the widget download area on the Apple Web site.

If you need to use a widget for only a second or two, press the Dashboard key and hold it. When you release the key, you’re back to your Desktop.

Apple offers additional widgets that you can download on the Mac OS X download site. Third-party software developers also provide both freeware and shareware widgets.

You can also modify the Dashboard key by turning it into a key sequence, which is a good thing if you’re already using an application that thrives on F12 (or F4, depending on your keyboard). Visit the Exposé & Spaces pane in System Preferences, and use the Shift, Control, Option, and Command keys in conjunction with the Dashboard key to specify a modifier.

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