March 2, 2012
I like to keep a clean desktop, but I also like to have certain information readily available. For example, I have always worked from lists and I need to have my todo list handy. Until recently, I had not found an app for keeping track of my todo list that I liked. I've actively searched for years and haven't been able to find anything that I like--including a couple I wrote for myself-- until now.
I put together a solution that rolls several elements together, the heart of which, at least on my desktop, is GeekTool. Sorry, GeekTool is only for OS X, but I'm certain there is something similar for the Windows OS. GeekTool creates a highly customizable layer above your desktop image where you can output results from scripts, display graphics, or the contents of a file. If there is information that you always need to have available on your desktop, then you've got to check this out. GeekTool is available on the App Store if you are using OS X 10.6.8 or later, or directly from the developer, Tynsoe, (or Tynsoe Fr if you prefer French) for earlier versions of OS X.
During the course of the next few posts I'll lead you through developing the best todo list I've used since the days of the legal pad. In the meantime, let's get comfortable with GeekTool. Start by downloading and installing the appropriate version, and then we'll do something easy.
Open the preference pane and drag a shell geeklet onto your desktop. A property window will open, which is where you adjust the content, font, color, etc. of the geeklet. In the command textbox type cal and set the refresh to 300 seconds so the geeklet will update every five minutes. A calendar of the current month should be showing in the geeklet. You will need to adjust the font size, color, opacity, etc., and the size and location of the geeklet, to your liking. Once you have everything just the way you like it, close the GeekTool preference pane. The geeklet becomes transparent except for your content. You'll notice you can't select or move the content. It's as if it has become a part of your desktop image, but it's live content. Of course, with this particular example you will have to wait until the end of the month to see it actually change, but it is, none the less, live!
If you've messed around with Unix a bit, you might recognize that cal is a Unix command. It is not a command in Geektool; in fact, there are no GeekTool commands. GeekTool is simply for displaying on your desktop whatever your heart desires.
Some information I've displayed on my desktop using GeekTool, and remember all of this is live:
- weather and satellite images
- network stats: current bps, collisions, etc.
- router stats and graphics from MRTG
- to do list
- calendar events
- date, time, and calendars
- word of the day
Play around with GeekTool. It's a good impetus to learn some Unix scripting, and you never know when that will come in handy. I added a couple of geeklets in the downloads section if you are interested in looking at them or installing them. They are some of the more complex geeklets I've written. They could probably be done in a more efficient way by true Unix guru, but mine work and I had fun figuring them out.