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How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

Anthony Heddings is the resident cloud engineer for LifeSavvy Media, a technical writer, programmer, and an expert at Amazon’s AWS platform. He’s written hundreds of articles for How-To Geek and CloudSavvy IT that have been read millions of times. Read more.

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

Geektool is a program for adding customizable widgets to your Mac’s desktop. Geektool runs almost entirely on shell scripts, which update every few seconds to display useful information on the desktop. Customizing Geektool is made easy by packaged scripts called Geeklets, which can be installed quickly and do not require knowledge of shell scripts to use.

Installing Geektool

Installing Geektool is simple; it doesn’t need any files to install, just download the app from Tynsoe Projects and run it. You should be greeted by Geektool’s main window.

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

Make sure you’ve enabled “Automatically launch at login” if you want Geektool to run after a reboot. It’s also a good idea to put it in your Applications folder so that you don’t accidentally delete it if you ever wipe your Downloads folder.

If you close this window, Geektool will continue to run in the background. If you want to stop it, you will have to launch the app again and uncheck “Enable”, or click “Quit Geektool” from the menubar. You can also get to Geektool’s settings from this menubar.

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

Finding and Adding Geeklets to Your Desktop

Many Geeklets can be found on the official repository. Another great source is the Geektool subreddit. Geeklets come either as .glet files or as individual scripts. The .glet files can be installed simply by opening them and adding them to Geektool.

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

Scripts can be installed by dragging a new “Shell” Geeklet to the desktop and pasting the script into the “Command:” box.

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

Tweaking Geektool

Shell Geeklets output text, and you can change the look and style of each one. From Geektool’s settings, click a Geeklet to open the Properties window. At the bottom of the window is the style options, from which you can set the font to anything OS X supports, including custom fonts.

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

If you want to tweak the scripts that make Geektool function, you can do so. Click the “…” button beside the “Command:” box, which will bring up the fullscreen editor. From here, you can edit the scripts for any Geeklet. It’s easiest to learn first by tweaking other’s Geeklet scripts and then move up to writing your own.

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

This is not recommended for anyone without prior experience with shell scripts, as these are actual shell commands and can modify your file system. While it’s hard to accidentally delete all of your files with Geektool, it is possible, so be careful.

Anthony Heddings is the resident cloud engineer for LifeSavvy Media, a technical writer, programmer, and an expert at Amazon’s AWS platform. He’s written hundreds of articles for How-To Geek and CloudSavvy IT that have been read millions of times. Read more.

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

Geektool is a program for adding customizable widgets to your Mac’s desktop. Geektool runs almost entirely on shell scripts, which update every few seconds to display useful information on the desktop. Customizing Geektool is made easy by packaged scripts called Geeklets, which can be installed quickly and do not require knowledge of shell scripts to use.

Installing Geektool

Installing Geektool is simple; it doesn’t need any files to install, just download the app from Tynsoe Projects and run it. You should be greeted by Geektool’s main window.

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

Make sure you’ve enabled “Automatically launch at login” if you want Geektool to run after a reboot. It’s also a good idea to put it in your Applications folder so that you don’t accidentally delete it if you ever wipe your Downloads folder.

If you close this window, Geektool will continue to run in the background. If you want to stop it, you will have to launch the app again and uncheck “Enable”, or click “Quit Geektool” from the menubar. You can also get to Geektool’s settings from this menubar.

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

Finding and Adding Geeklets to Your Desktop

Many Geeklets can be found on the official repository. Another great source is the Geektool subreddit. Geeklets come either as .glet files or as individual scripts. The .glet files can be installed simply by opening them and adding them to Geektool.

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

Scripts can be installed by dragging a new “Shell” Geeklet to the desktop and pasting the script into the “Command:” box.

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

Tweaking Geektool

Shell Geeklets output text, and you can change the look and style of each one. From Geektool’s settings, click a Geeklet to open the Properties window. At the bottom of the window is the style options, from which you can set the font to anything OS X supports, including custom fonts.

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

If you want to tweak the scripts that make Geektool function, you can do so. Click the “…” button beside the “Command:” box, which will bring up the fullscreen editor. From here, you can edit the scripts for any Geeklet. It’s easiest to learn first by tweaking other’s Geeklet scripts and then move up to writing your own.

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

This is not recommended for anyone without prior experience with shell scripts, as these are actual shell commands and can modify your file system. While it’s hard to accidentally delete all of your files with Geektool, it is possible, so be careful.

It may be covered with applications and windows most of the time, but your Mac’s desktop can also be an excellent source of information, including the time and date, available hard drive space, battery status, system performance, and more. With GeekTool, you can put all of that information right on your desktop. Here’s how you can make your desktop more useful but keep it looking sharp.

It’s been a while since we looked at desktop customization app GeekTool . GeekTool has come a ways since then, and setting up a gorgeous HUD using GeekTool is easier—and GeekTool itself is more powerful—than ever.

Geek to Live: Monitor your Mac and more with GeekTool

by Gina Trapani

How to Create an Attractive, Customized Desktop HUD with Rainmeter

Rainmeter is a powerful tool that lets you create a beautiful, information-rich heads-up display…

What Is GeekTool?

GeekTool is a utility that allows you to embed objects and information directly onto your Mac’s desktop. It installs as a preference pane in the System Preferences, and from there you can open use any of the three included plug-ins (called “geeklets”) to run text commands. The output from those commands is displayed on the desktop, organized and styled by you.

The three bundled geeklets include the “File” plug-in, which allows you to monitor system and application activity or keep a text file open on your desktop, the “shell” plug-in that lets you run scripts of terminal commands and display their output on the desktop, and the “image” plug-in that lets you embed items like iTunes album art, weather conditions, and more on your desktop.

Update: Rocco writes in to point out that GeekTool does support Lion, and is available in the Mac App Store here . When installed from the app store, it’ll run as a separate application, not a Preference pane. GeekTool currently supports Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard (Lion isn’t supported just yet, but should be in time) with previous versions available for older versions of Mac OS X. While GeekTool isn’t quite as graphically intensive as its closest Windows counterpart, Rainmeter (which we’ve already shown you how to configure in Windows ,) you can still build a gorgeous HUD on your Mac with it.

Step One: Getting Familiar with GeekTool

Installing GeektTool is simple-just download and open the installer to add it to the System Preferences (it’ll appear under Other at the bottom.) When you open the GeekTool preference pane, you’ll see the three default geeklets, and options on the right to add GeekTool to the menu bar, enable or disable GeekTool, and to add and delete groups of geeklets.

Groups allow you to configure multiple geeklets without having to tweak them every time you change your wallpaper or plug in an external display. You can set them up to fit a specific need, work with the desktop wallpaper that you have up, or just fit your mood. For example, if you have a dark wallpaper, your date and time geeklets may need white text. Switch to a brightly-colored wallpaper, and you can switch groups to change the font and colors without having to go into each geeklet to change them one at a time. Click the checkbox next to the group name to activate or deactivate that group, or toggle them from the menu bar.

To activate a geeklet, drag it out of the System Preferences window to the desktop where you want it to live. When the plug-in is in place, the properties window will change to allow you to change its size and position, type in the commands you want the plug-in to run, select the image you want it to display, or specify the text you want it to show. Anything you can run in terminal will run in a geeklet, so if you love the command line, here’s where you can put those skills to use.

Step Two: Set Up Your Geeklets

The default geeklets are fairly powerful, and can help you get a long way towards the HUD of your dreams. Here are a few ways to get started adding some flare to your desktop using the default geeklets:

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

If you’re one of those people who need to know what you need to do all the time, then putting a todo list on your desktop will help you immensely. Here’s how to create your own as a constant reminder.

Today, we’ll be showing you how to put a todo list on your desktop in OS X, and also a couple of tweaks you can make with our initial setup.

Initial Setup

First, you’ll need GeekTool. It’s a preference pane, so all you need to do to access it once it’s installed is go to System Preferences and click on the GeekTool icon, which should be in the last row in the “Other” section.

But before we do anything with GeekTool, we need to create our todo list file. Open your favorite text editor (I’d suggest something other than TextEdit) and type in some todos. Anything will work here, we just need a basic file. When you’re done, save it as a text file named todo.txt and put it on your desktop for easy access:

Now to configure GeekTool. When you first open GeekTool, it looks like this:

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

See those three icons labeled File, Image, and Shell? Those are known as Geeklets. You can drag them to the desktop to create a new Geeklet. The one we’ll need for our todo list is Shell, so drag that to the desktop:

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

When you select the new Geeklet, the options window pops up. This allows you to configure the Geeklet:

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

We’ll be using a terminal command known as cat to display our todo.txt file. So, to use cat to display our file, all we need to do is type cat

/Desktop/todo.txt into the command field of our Geeklet options:

Your todo.txt file should be displayed on the desktop:

That’s it for the basic setup. Read on for some helpful tweaks and how to use it with Notational Velocity.

Tweaks

The first thing you’ll want to do with your new Geeklet is to make it pretty. Right now, our Geeklet uses black text and a small font, so to change that we’re going to go back to our Geeklet options and select “Set Font and Color”:

From there, you’ll get a font palette where you can choose which font and size to use. If you click on the white button on the top-right, you’ll get a color palette where you can choose the color:

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

The next thing you’ll want to do it to set the refresh interval. This will make it so you can just edit your todo.txt file and then have it automatically update on the desktop after a set period of time. To do this, go back to your Geeklet options and put in the number of seconds you want in the “Refresh every” field:

That’s it for basic tweaks, but there’s one more: setting up your todo.txt file in Notational Velocity, a notes application. Read on to see how.

Setup in Notational Velocity

Notational Velocity is one of my favorite applications. I keep all my important ideas and notes in it. So, rather than opening my todo.txt file in a text editor every time I want to change it, I keep it in Notational Velocity.

Of course, first you’ll need Notational Velocity. Once it’s installed, you’ll want to go to Preferences and go to the “Storage” tab. Select “Plain Text Files” from the dropdown menu and you’re good:

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

Now, you can create a new todo file in Notational Velocity and it’ll create a text file that you can read from with GeekTool. But, since our file is in a different place we’ll have to modify the command we use to read it:

/Library/Application\ Support/Notational\ Data/todo.txt

One of the huge advantages of having your todo list in Notational Velocity is that it can sync with SimpleNote, so you can use the iOS app and mNote for Android to make your todo list accessible from anywhere.

People often write of OS X as a restricted, un-customizable operating system. But if you know where to look, you can change a lot about how your Mac looks and works. Here’s how to do it.

Customize the Look of OS X

A lot of people love the way OS X looks, but it’s not perfect. Changing things around isn’t as easy as it is with other operating systems, but it’s definitely possible. Here are a few tools and manual tricks to create your own customized OS X desktop that’s all your own.

Geektool Skins Your Entire Desktop

GeekTool is a tool that makes it dead simple to customize the look of your desktop and add a ton of information. With it, you can embed objects and information right onto your desktop to turn your Mac into a central hub of information.

We have a large guide for using GeekTool if you want to get into it, but here’s a list of a few of the notable things you can use it for:

  • Add a time and date widget to your desktop
  • Add a small calendar
  • Show system data like battery capacity, CPU, and memory status
  • Add a weather map
  • Show tasks from different productivity apps
  • Add scoreboards and other live updating info
  • Theme your entire screen with other people’s themes

You can use Geektool as heavily or lightly as you’d like. Each little widget comes from a public repository , so you can cover your entire desktop in everything you want, or just use for something simple like a calendar. If you’re looking for more ideas for customization, this subreddit is a great place to start.

Manually Create Your Own Custom Icons

For a long time, CandyBar was the go-to software for customizing your Mac’s icons, but it’s no longer supported. That said, it’s easy to change the icon for any app or folder you want manually. The process outlined in the above video is simple :

  1. Select the folder whose icon you want to change and press Cmd+i to open that folders Info panel.
  2. Open the image you want to use for the folder’s icon in Preview. Press Cmd+a (to select it) and then Cmd+c (to copy it).
  3. Back in the info panel, click on the icon in the top left corner and press Cmd+v to paste your customized icon image.

To find icons, AddictiveTips has a guide to making your own icons and IconFactory’s repository of old CandyBar icons is still a solid resource for other user’s icons. You can also find your own PNG files onlines, then make your own icons with pretty much any photo editor .

Flavours Customizes the Colors of OS X

Not everyone is a fan of OS X’s drab color scheme, but if you’re willing to pay for it, Flavours ($19.90) is an easy way to customize the color sets of the entire interface in OS X.

Flavours uses themes to change the color scheme of OS X. You can use other people’s themes or make your own in the app. All you need to do is fire up Flavours and start skinning the colors of various elements of the OS X interface. You can adjust different layers, use gradients, or make your own backgrounds. It’s a bit tough to make a design that looks good on your own, but the themes repository provides plenty of different skins to choose from. If Flavours doesn’t do what you want, CrystalClear is an excellent alternative.

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

Deep inside our hearts we know that every human being is unique. We don’t want to be the same as everyone else. That’s why we personalize our belongings to fit our needs and wants, from our appearance to our room to almost everything else in our lives.

It’s also true for our gadgets. We buy phone cases, change the computer wallpaper, make a playlist, add stickers, etc. One area that we can personalize in our computer is the desktop. Being that you are a Mac user, the wallpaper is not the only thing that you can adjust. With the help of Übersicht, you can add useful widgets to display virtually anything that you’d like, including the weather, to-dos, appointments, and more.

Uber … What?

Übersicht is an app that lets you build custom widgets to embed on your desktop and display. The functions are more or less similar to GeekTool (Mac) or Rainmeter (Windows). But unlike GeekTool, this app is easier to use and lighter on the system usage. And if you are familiar with HTML and Javascript, you can easily build your own widgets to tailor your specific needs or tweak the existing ones.

Another advantage of Übersicht over its alternatives is that your widget’s position won’t break when you plug in a differently-sized display thanks to CSS positioning. If you set your widget to stay at “position 10 pixels from the right edge of the screen,” it will stay there no matter how large the display is.

If you’d like to test the water, let’s continue.

Getting Started with Übersicht

To begin your journey, visit Übersicht’s website, then download, unzip, and install the app.

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

After launching the app, you will find it resides in the menubar on the top-right of your screen along with the clock, calendar, and other menubar apps.

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

The next step is to add widgets to the mixture. The installation comes with one widget that you can delete or modify using the “Edit” mode. If you have meddled with web page before, you can see that the basic widget consists of commands in HTML with a mix of CSS.

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

To add more widgets, head over to the Widgets page and pick the ones that you like. There are literally tons of widgets available, ranging from a simple clock to GitHub activity, from RSS feeds to a random xkcd comic strip. You can sort the listings by the submission date (date), popularity (downloads), or alphabetical (name). And if you are good enough to create a widget, you can also submit your own.

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

To install a widget, all you need to do is download the widget, unzip it, and move it to the widget folder. You can find the widget folder using Übersicht from the menubar. You can also delete existing widgets by removing them from this folder.

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

For example, I downloaded and installed a widget called “Evangelion style dashboard widget.” And here’s what the result looks like. If you are familiar with the anime Evangelion, you will recognize the style.

The widget is kind of a compilation of system information. It will show you a lot of useful info about your Mac including the battery, trash, memory, CPU, IP address, etc. It even has an iTunes mini player for your convenience.

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

Build Your Own Widget

As mentioned before, to be able to build your own widget you need to have a decent knowledge of HTML and CSS, and explaining about those two would require several other discussions that can’t simply be squeezed into this article, so we won’t dive into that realm here.

But if you want to try, the best way to start is to modify the widget that comes with the Übersicht installation. Open it with the text editor and tweak it to your liking.

After playing with the app for a while, one thing I can say about Übersicht is that it’s light on the system resources. My old Mac already can’t handle GeekTool, but it runs Übersicht just fine. And the many available widgets gives you the freedom to make your desktop according to your tastes way before you need to build your own.

So what do you think about Übersicht? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.

Jeffry Thurana is a creative writer living in Indonesia. He helps other writers and freelancers to earn more from their crafts. He’s on a quest of learning the art of storytelling, believing that how you tell a story is as important as the story itself. He is also an architect and a designer, and loves traveling and playing classical guitar.

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Introduction: Customize Your Mac

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

How to use geektool to customize your mac’s desktop

This little how-to will show you some cool things you can do to your mac.
**I take no responsiblity if you mess up your mac**

Note you must be an adminstartor for most of these changes
Also more will be posted I’m feeling lazy.

Attachments

Step 1: Geektool

A must for any mac user

Do a little research to fully understand Geektool.
After you read up try these different shells without quotations

Display Weather:
“curl –silent “http://xml.weather.yahoo.com/forecastrss?p=02066&u=c” | grep -E ‘(Current Conditions:|C
//’ -e ‘s///’ -e ‘s/ //’ -e ‘s/
//’ -e ‘s/ //’ -e ‘s/ //'”

For more commands do a google search

another helpfull log to have is the crash log (Make sure you go to file not Shell) :
/private/var/log/system.log

Attachments

Step 2: Quicksilver

Quicksilver is another must for any mac user, improves productivity:

again do a little read up

its pretty simple just assign a hotkey to bring up the menu then type the name of whatever you want to find

kinda like spotlight but better

Attachments

Step 3: Change the Dock Text

Now your ganna have to be carefull with what you do but you should be alright:

First go to /system/library/coreservices/dock.app that

have some fun wit those and get creative.
When your done save it then drag it back into the english.iproj again authenticate

Now i believe all you have to do to see the changes is open up terminal then type
“killall Dock”

you may need to restart you computer I dont remeber.

Rainmeter is a fantastic desktop customization tool available for Windows. Unfortunately, Rainmeter is not available for Mac. For Mac users, Übersicht is a desktop customization tool and alternative to GeekTool.

Using Übersicht you can build custom widgets anywhere on your Mac OS X desktop. It is simple, lightweight, and extremely effective when compared to the competitors.

Übersicht lets you run system commands and display their output on your desktop in little containers, called widgets. Widgets are written using HTML5.

This means it will be very easy to write the code and customize it based on your requirements. It can display the data in different tables, charts, graphs, etc. It is extremely responsive as well. It will work perfectly regardless of the screen size you have and the resolution of your display.

Übersicht is a new entry into the market, only a few numbers of widgets are available. It requires a little-bit coding knowledge to build custom widgets. After installing you can quickly add a status monitor for a quick glance of your Mac status. Übersicht is free. If you are a developer you can build widgets easily with JavaScript or CoffeeScript. So, from now, whenever you need a custom widget on your Mac, you don’t have to depend on the paid options. Because you can create your own widget easily using this amazing desktop customization tool for Mac.

Here is an example of a minimal script written on the program. Credits go to the Übersicht.

command: “echo Hai Bros!”
refreshFrequency: 6000 # ms
render: (output) ->

I use GeekTool to display various different bits on my desktop — which mail boxes have unread messages in them, and what is currently playing in iTunes. Then I thought, why not have the Artwork as well as the track info on the desktop, as seen at right (click the image for a larger version)? (I basically got the idea from this previous hint.) So here’s my solution:

GeekTool runs an AppleScript that fetches the artwork from iTunes. Then a different GeekTool entry displays it. Quite simple, really. I’ve bundled up everything you need to get this working, along with some screenshots, into this 24KB archive. (There’s also a 289KB version, which includes some screenshots that show what you get, and clarify the folder structure.)

After downloading the archive, follow the rest of the hint’s instructions to get it all working.

The AppleScript gets the artwork from iTunes as a PICT file. Although GeekTool can display this, you can’t have a transparent PICT, which we need later. So the PICT file gets converted by Image Events into a TIFF, and is saved as albumArt.tif. The entry in GeekTool that displays the picture is pointed to where the albumArt.tif is saved.

If there’s no artwork, or iTunes isn’t running, then the albumArt.tif file is replaced by a transparent version. This is then displayed by GeekTool, which to you and me looks like there’s nothing there.

Copy the folder “iTunes Artwork” into your Pictures folder, which is inside your Home folder. Save the AppleScript somewhere nice. In GeekTool, create a new entry and select “Shell.” In the command bit, type osascript /path/to/AppleScript, replacing the path part with, hopefully obviously, the correct path. Set the Refresh to what ever you like; mine’s set to 10 seconds.

Then create another entry in GeekTool, and select “Picture.” In the URL bit, type: Replace username with your user’s short username. Again set the refresh to what ever you like. Install finished.

[robg adds: I haven’t tested this one. ]