The iMac's Dashboard - dummies

By Mark L. Chambers

iMac users tend to wax enthusiastic over the convenience features built into OS X Mavericks. The OS X Dashboard display is one of the features that iMac users first show off to friends and family.

The idea behind Dashboard is deceptively simple, yet about as revolutionary as it gets for a mainstream personal computer operating system. Dashboard is an alternative Desktop that you can display at any time by using the keyboard or your pointing device (by swiping upward with three fingers and clicking Dashboard); the Dashboard desktop holds widgets (small applications that each provides a single function). Examples of default widgets that come with Mavericks include a calculator, a world clock, weather display, and a dictionary/thesaurus. (Think of the apps you can download for an iPhone or iPad, and you’re in the same territory.)

But you’re not limited to the widgets that come with Mavericks. Simply click the plus button at the bottom of the Dashboard display and drag new widgets to your Dashboard from the menu at the bottom of the screen. To remove a widget, click the minus button at the bottom of the Dashboard display, and then click the X icon that appears next to the offending widget. When you’re done with your widgets, press the Dashboard key again to return to your Desktop.

Widgets can also be rearranged any way you like by dragging them to a new location.

Simple applications like these are no big whoop. After all, OS X has always had a calculator and a clock. What’s revolutionary is how you access your widgets. You can display and use them anywhere in Mavericks, at any time, by simply pressing the Dashboard key. The default key on most late-model iMacs is F4, although you can change the Dashboard key via the Mission Control pane within System Preferences (or even turn it into a key sequence, like Option+F4).

A WebClip widget can include text, graphics, and links, which Dashboard updates every time you display your widgets. Think about that for a second: Dynamic displays, such as weather maps, cartoons, and even the Free Music Download image from the iTunes Store are all good sources of WebClip widgets! (That last one is a real time saver.)

Follow these steps to create a new WebClip Dashboard widget from your favorite website:

  1. Run Safari and navigate to the site you want to view as a widget.

  2. Choose File→Open in Dashboard.

    If you’ve added the Open in Dashboard button to the Safari toolbar (which bears a pair of scissors and a dotted box), you can click it instead.

  3. Select the portion of the page you want to include in your widget.

    This step allows you to choose the section with the desired content.

  4. Drag the handles at the edges of the selection border to resize your widget frame to the right size and then click Add.

    Bam! Mavericks displays your new WebClip widget within Dashboard.

When you click a link in a WebClip widget, Dashboard loads the full web page in Safari, so you can even use WebClips for surfing chores with sites you visit often.