Disabling the Dashboard on Mac OS X

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With OS X 10.4 this nifty keano new feature came into being. The Dashboard. At the simple press of the F12 key you could have a secondary screen of little software applets jump up. At your beck and call is great power and flexibility, with simple-to-write applications offering untold flexibility to customize your computing experience.

Unfortunately ... I find the Dashboard to be much to-do about nothing, and I yawn in its general direction. I found the dashboard widget experience to be uninspiring. And I desired a way to turn off the dashboard so that it would not use the memory on my system.

Disable Dashboard offers a simple way to disable or enable the dashboard. It's just a pair of shell commands.

10.4: A unix script to toggle the Dashboard on and off wraps those shell commands into a shell script. It also suggests you can build an Automator Action to make it a click-to-enable-disable experience.

Installing the shell script is relatively simple. Go to the hint and click on this link: this bash script will display in your browser. I made a "bin" directory in my home directory, with this command:

  % mkdir ~/bin

Then using a text editor like Text Editor create a new file and paste in the contents of the script. I named this file "docktoggle" and then made it executable like so:

   % chmod +x ~/bin/docktoggle

The first time you run the script it will fail giving a screwy error message. So you have to execute the commands by hand the first time like so:

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

When you execute these commands your screen will spend a moment reinitializing itself. This is because you're killing the Dock process, and the system has to restart the Dock. Once you've run those commands by hand you can execute the script successfully like so:

   % ./docktoggle
   TURNING OFF WIDGETS
   0
   %

To test whether dashboard is enabled or disabled press the F12 key. If it's enabled your screen will go grey and a few widgets will appear. If disabled you'll be greeted with a beep.