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How-To Geek

Desktop Customization: Introduction to GeekTool for OS X

Something we like to do as geeks is add customizations to our desktops, whether with themes or wallpapers. Today we take a look at GeekTool for OS X that will let you add different types of data to your desktop.

GeekTool for OS X is capable of many things from showing the weather outside to what’s playing on iTunes and more. It can display both static and dynamic information.

Getting Started

We will look at adding a clock and a basic calendar to your desktop. Once you have GeekTool installed, you will find it in System Preferences. We have three options for the type of tool to place on your desktop. File will be typically used when you download eeklets. Image can be used to have a dynamic picture updated from a URL (such as weather images) or rotate though a folder on your computer. Shell, which will be looking into with today, can be used with terminal commands.

NOTE: If you plan on experimenting with the commands you can use, be careful that you do not use a command that has no termination (Ping for example).

The end result of what we are working on today will look like the following. You can place the info how ever you find appealing and functional, This is just a starting point.

Adding Information to the Desktop

To start you will drag a Shell onto the desktop and place it in the approximate location you want the information to be.

For the static texts, Today is: and The time is:, you will use the Override text section. To change the font styles use the Click here to set font & color. For this example we are using the default font face, black and white, with a font size of 45 for everything except the day of the week which is at 50.

Each of the sections is a different Shell using the date command. There are many options that can be used with this command. You can use date /? in the terminal to see all of the options available. The different sections we are interested in for this example will be:

date +%A – for the full day of the week

date +%b – for the three letter month

date +%d – for the day of the month

date +%Y – for the four digit year

date +%X – for the locale formatted hour, minute, and second

Once you have laid out all of your pieces, you can align them anyway you like. For this example we did a block format and resized the date areas to be closer to the text they held.

There are a lot of different Geeklets available that you can find at the link below. Here is an example of our desktop running several different Geeklets for iTunes, IP info, iCal, Weather – which pulls weather data from Yahoo, and the Time and Date we looked at above.

sshot-2010-07-30-[01-59-40]

Conclusion

This simple tool can be used to add a wide range of customizations. In later posts we will look at other tasks that can be used with GeekTool and also some of the pre-made tools that can be downloaded A.K.A. Geeklets.

Downloads

Download GeekTool 3.0
Download fun Geeklets to Customize Your OS X Desktop

Chris is a Mac geek who still knows his way around Linux and Windows. He's always looking for a good way to translate geek to english.

  • Published 07/30/10

Comments (1)

  1. z

    good album…

    also, any comment on how much resources are taken by running that much geek on your desktop?

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