Bring Dashboard back to your MacOS Desktop

The MacOSX Dashboard is a feature rich tool and a standard feature of MacOSX since version 10.4 (tiger). It returned a much-loved Classic Macintosh feature called “Desk Accessories” that provided tiny applications that run on top of the current application. These tiny apps provided the calculator, printer chooser, a scrapbook, and more. With 10.4 Dashboard arrived and expanded this feature into fully interactive widgets based on common code platforms like HTML and Java. Initially Apple only provided weather apps, calculators, clocks, and a few others until developers wrote many more.

It surprised me to find the Dashboard gone in my new MacBook with MacOSX version 10.12 (sierra). What happened to it? Did this get depreciated and left to rot like FrontRow did? No. Dashboard still remains and is disabled by default.  Here is how to get Dashboard back!

How to turn Dashboard back on

Fortunately there is an easy way to re-enable the Dashboard.  

  1. From the  menu select the “System Preferences” item or double-click the icon in your system dock.
  2. Double Click the “Mission Control” icon.
  3. Half way down the screen is a pull down option that allows you to re-enable the Dashboard.
Mission Control System Preference Panel
Mission Control System Preference Panel

Select one of the two settings to re-enable Dashboard:

    • “As Space” – This is the modern option for Dashboard that puts your widgets in its own dedicated desktop space. To activate, press the F3 key and select Dashboard in the spaces at the top of the screen.
    • “As Overlay” – This option is the classic option and places the Dashboard widgets on top of your desktop window. To activate, press fn+F12 keys (or redefine it in the settings panel).
The Dashboard presented as on overlay on the Desktop
The Dashboard presented as on overlay on the Desktop


The Dashboard using the Desktop Spaces feature
The Dashboard using the Desktop Spaces feature

You can add more Dashboard widgets by clicking the circle-Plus icon in the lower left hand corner of your screen.  Preloaded widget on your system will appear (flight status anyone?) and many more available for download by simply clicking the “more” button.

To exit, simply press ESC, F3, fn+F12, or the right facing arrow at the bottom of the screen.

Enjoy! Dashboard is a useful tool to keep app widgets at the ready.  As Spotlight and Notification grow more powerful we likely will see this slip away in future OS versions.  What do you think? What do you use Dashboard for and what widgets do you use? Use our comments below to share!

Happy and Safe computing everyone!

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