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How to Disable the Useless Dashboard on Mac OS X

After getting my new MacBook Air with the awesome battery life, I decided to give OS X a spin for a while to see how I liked it. About 34 seconds later, I encountered my first irritation: The stupid Dashboard feature is just completely useless. Here’s how to disable it.

Note:¬†overall, Mac OS X is a really great operating system. It’s just this one feature that makes no sense.

Simply Remove Dashboard from Spaces

One of the first things I noticed when using a new Mac is that the Dashboard is always there when you hit the F3 key to show Mission Control, and always seemed to be in the way. You can simply remove it from Mission Control¬†so it isn’t always in your face. That way you can continue to use the Dashboard if you like it, but it won’t be annoying you all the time.

To do that, just open System Preferences -> Mission Control, and un-check the option for “Show Dashboard as a Space”.

Of course, this doesn’t disable the dashboard, it just makes it a lot less noticeable.

Disable the Dashbaord

Thankfully, it’s really easy to disable the Dashboard — open up a Terminal and paste this in:

defaults write com.apple.dashboard mcx-disabled -boolean YES && killall Dock

To reverse it and re-enable it, use this:

defaults write com.apple.dashboard mcx-disabled -boolean NO && killall Dock

Yep. It’s simple.

  • Gyffes Gyffes

    I love love love your articles and really appreciate this site, but you're flat-out foolishly wrong in your dismissiveness of the Dashboard.

    Yeah, at default, it's of little utility (though I find the calculator handy on a weekly basis), but there are two utilities that reside there that prove invaluable to me in my life as IT support to a wide array of users and machines.

    Maintidget: at a glance, you can see if the daily/weekly/monthly cron jobs have been run. Oft-times, the daily and monthly have run, but you'll see the weekly hasn't been run since last August. A quick press of a button runs the scripts and bam, lots of niggling issues are resolved.

    iStat Pro: another "at-a-glance" that serves as one of the first things I check when someone has issues. IP address (does it have one? two? is there an external or is it self-signed? etc), temperatures, process % (sure, activity monitor gives me that, but this is a BUNCH of info at once glance), storage capacity (used/free -- in this age of SSDs and people with too much stuff, a full SSD (or one nearing it) slows dramatically), memory use (see above re: activity monitor).

    So, with the click of a button -- or swipe sideways on a trackpad -- I get a quick overview of someone's system and can proceed with far more knowledge than I had seconds before. Swipe back and all that data is hidden away, waiting. That ain' useless.

    Frankly, I'm fairly agog at this minor snit fit you threw over something so innocuous and potentially helpful. Perhaps an article listing a few useful widgets would've been of more use?

  • Lowell Heddings

    Aren't there dozens or hundreds of other ways to show the information that you're talking about, even at the press of a key?

    After complaining on Twitter about the Dashboard, the overwhelming response from Mac users was that the Dashboard is the first thing they disable on every new Mac. Since I didn't like the Dashboard either, I figured it would make sense to write a tiny little post about it.

    Maintidget: If I have to use a widget to tell me that a weekly job hasn't run in months... we're approaching something the wrong way. Why not a script that checks the same, and gives me a notification that a job hasn't been run in months? Why isn't that built into OS X, for that matter?

    iStat Pro: I think that's one of those things that I'm just not that interested in... the whole point of my MacBook Air is that it just works, and I don't have to think about processes that are running, memory usage, or any of that other stuff. Sure, on a server, that is all great information that I want to see. But I can do that in a web browser for my servers (and do).

    Are there any other widgets that would be useful?

  • Nick Bostic

    I use dashboard all the time. I'm an iStat Pro user too because the unfortunately reality is that sometimes my Macbook Air doesn't "just work" the way it should be, and that's a quick way to figure out why. I have world clocks so I can quickly and easily see what time it is for my clients. Weather so I can break the ice when calling on potential customers. Freshbooks time tracker so I can easily build invoices. Delivery Status so I can see where my packages are. Currency Converter because I deal in at least three currencies weekly. Google Translate because I deal in at least 5 languages weekly. Wolfram Alpha because it's awesome. So it sounds like you, and the hordes on Twitter, just haven't realized the potential of Dashboard.

  • Jasdeep Singh Kohli

    I totally agree with scubamarketing I also live in china originally being from India and use dashboard as the most useful thing ever. I have 5 countries time shown at a glance, 6 currency converters for different currencies to show conversion rate at Same time. Weather, translator, package tracker, flight tracker, and there are hundreds and thousands of other widgets including games also. It's just a way that people want want to use it. I wouldn't consider dashboard as totally useless.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 06/26/13

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