How to run Dashboard Widgets on your OS X Desktop

This tutorial will walk you through the steps required to move one or more of your Dashboard Widgets from the Dashboard, to your Desktop.

  1. Start by opening a Terminal and enter the following commands:

    defaults write devmode YES
    killall Dock

  2. terminal with commands

  3. Launch the Dashboard by hitting the F12 key
  4. Click on the widget you want to move to your Desktop, and while holding the mouse button down, click F12 again
  5. Now you can move the widget around on your desktop to the location of your choice. The widget will remain above all other windows, so place it in a location where that behavior is desirable.
  6. a dashboard widget on the desktop

  7. If you want to move the widget back to your Dashboard, simply click it and hold the mouse button down, click F12 and “release” it back to the Dashboard
{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Y July 7, 2008, 9:16 am

    I followed the steps, but it didn’t work… My mac is Intel, OS V. 10.4.11. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  • Don September 16, 2008, 2:17 am

    I tried the same thing but get this in the terminal screen:

    MacBook:~…..$ defaults write YES
    2008-09-16 06:15:45.817 defaults[1901:10b]
    Rep argument is not a dictionary
    Defaults have not been changed.

    Running 10.5.5

  • Ross McKillop September 16, 2008, 2:23 am

    Don –

    I just tried again and got the nearly identical error message as you (actually exactly the same except my “number” was “[2490:10b] “.

    It worked in 10.5.4 (or .3) – I would have been running one of those two when I wrote this. I’ll research it a bit and see if I can figure out the new command.

  • Don September 16, 2008, 5:47 pm


    I found the correct string

    defaults write devmode YES

    There is no . between dashboard and devmode. I put that in, killed the dock and it works perfectly now.

    I found it here:

  • Ross McKillop September 16, 2008, 6:26 pm

    Thanks Don! – I updated this post

  • Don September 16, 2008, 6:57 pm

    Yes, it was correct in your screen shot. If I had paid attention…..


  • Ari April 6, 2009, 4:19 pm

    Now that I can put widgets on my desktop (Intel Macbook Pro), can I minimize them or have them recede to the background?

  • Landolite December 9, 2009, 5:46 pm

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  • Kari January 27, 2011, 1:50 pm

    How do I delete a widget from the dashboard?

  • Grawl July 25, 2011, 7:53 am

    Works in Lion!

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