If you dismissed the Dashboard on your Mac because it was useless, annoying to have to shift to, or too much of a distraction that would take you away from your other work spaces, you also – perhaps inadvertently – stopped using widgets for the most part. There are some who argue that Widgets are useless, while others think they could just as easily have been apps and the whole ‘Dashboard’ been avoided altogether. WidgetRunner is a free Mac app that lets you run widgets, both stock and custom-installed, as apps on a regular desktop space. The widgets behave much as any other app window, though they do not appear as windows under their own name and have to be added by selecting WidgetRunner.
Using WidgetRunner is simple enough; launch the app and from it’s menu, select ‘New Widget’. You’ll have to do this each time you want to add a new widget but the app will remember your added widgets if you close and relaunch it.
WidgetRunner will run both stock and custom-installed widgets, and the only difference will be that you will have to navigate to different folders to add the two different types of installed widgets. The stock widgets can be found at /Library/Widgets, while the third-party ones you’ve installed reside in Users/YourUserName/Library/Widget. Once added, a widget can be used as if it were running in the Dashboard.
Repeat the process to add a different widget. To remove a widget, right-click it and select ‘Close widget’. You can select how the widget will behave by choosing one of three options from this menu under ‘Widget Position’. If you select ‘Desktop’, you will be able to select a widget simply by clicking and dragging it. If you select ‘Normal’, you will have to first select WidgetRunner before you can select and interact with a widget. Lastly, selecting ‘Top’ will keep the widget on top of all other app windows. The small ‘i’ button at a corner of the widget will allow you to access its settings.
One very common notion about these desktop widgets is that they are memory hogs and if you’re running any sort of MacBook, they will tax your battery life. While WidgetRunner lets you run widgets as desktop apps, it makes no claims whatsoever about whether or not your battery life will be effected; you will have to check that for yourself. If you’re not interested in using widgets and would much rather disable the Dashboard altogether, you can do so by visiting Missions Control’s settings.