Using Widgets on the Dashboard in Mac OS X Lion

4 of 9 in Series: The Essentials of Adjusting Settings in Mac OS X Lion

The Mac OS X Lion Dashboard offers a cool set of widgets, Apple’s name for the mini-applications that live inside the Dashboard layer. You see, Dashboard takes over your screen when you invoke it by clicking Dashboard’s Dock icon or pressing its keyboard shortcut: F4 on newer Mac keyboards or F12 (or fn+F12) on almost any Mac keyboard. A few of its default widgets include Calculator, Weather, World Clock, and Calendar.

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Widgets are small, single-function applications that work only within Dashboard. Some widgets talk to applications on your hard drive, such as Address Book and iCal. Other widgets gather information for you via the Internet.

The following tips can help you work with widgets:

  • Each time you invoke Dashboard, widgets that were open the last time you used it will be on your screen.

  • To close an open widget, click the encircled X in its top-left corner. If you don’t see an X, press the Option key and move the cursor over the widget, and you will.

  • To configure most widgets: Move your cursor over the bottom-right corner of a widget, and click the little i-in-a-circle that appears. The widget then flips around so you can see its backside where the configuration options reside. When you finish configuring a widget, click the Done button, which is usually (but not always) in the bottom-right corner; doing so flips the widget around again.

    Not all widgets can be configured. For example, the iCal and Calculator widgets have no options to configure. If a little i-in-a-circle doesn’t appear when you hover over the bottom-right corner of a widget with your cursor (or hovering while pressing the Option key), then that widget has no options to configure.

  • To access widgets other than the four on your screen by default, click the Open button (the large encircled plus sign) to open the Widget Bar.

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  • To open a widget window, click the widget.

  • To see more widgets, click the tiny arrows on the left and right sides of the Widget Bar.

  • To move a widget around on your screen, click almost anywhere on the widget and then drag it to the appropriate location.

  • To close the Widget Bar, click the X-in-a-circle displayed on the left of the Manage Widgets button when the Widget Bar is open.

  • To manage your widgets, click the Manage Widgets button above the Widget Bar on the left side.

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    You can manage widgets only if the Widget Bar is open.

    At the bottom of the Widget Manager window is a button titled More Widgets. Clicking it launches your web browser and shows you additional widgets you can download from the Apple website.

  • To uninstall a third-party widget that you no longer want, merely open the Widget Manager and click the red minus sign next to its name. Your Mac politely asks whether you want to move this widget to the trash. You do.

Finally, to close your Dashboard, either press the same key you pressed to open Dashboard (F4 on newer Mac keyboards, or F12 or fn+F12 on almost any Mac keyboard) or click any item in your Dock.

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The Essentials of Adjusting Settings in Mac OS X Lion

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