How to create beautiful desktops using GeekTool

GeekTool is an application that allows you to not only customize your desktop in Mac OS X, but also display any Terminal output right on your desktop. It does this via three default plugins:

  • File plugin to monitor MacOS X activity with /var/log/system.log, or any file that you want to follow.
  • Shell mode to launch custom scripts or commands like “df” to check space left on filesystems or “uptime” to monitor load on your machine.
  • Finally, image mode helps you monitor bandwith usage, CPU load, memory availability on your server with tools like MRTG or RRD.

It installs as a preference pane in the System Preferences, and from there you can open and use any of the three included plug-ins (called “geeklets”) to run text commands. To create a new Geeklet, simply drag one of the three icons (File, Image or Shell) onto your desktop. This will bring up a blank rectangle with a white outline and a long dark window containing the various options for that Geeklet. The output from those commands is displayed on the desktop, organized and styled by you. For more detailed information, head on over to Lifehacker.

Screen Shot 2013-01-16 at 7.52.59 PM

In this tutorial I will show you how to create a beautiful desktop including the date, time, dateline and weather. (This desktop is very similar to the one found in the screenshot section for GeekTool in the Mac Store.)

Step 1: Head over to the Mac App Store and install GeekTool (Free)

Step 2: Download the following zip file which includes all the necessary scripts and images. Geektool Desktop (7.8mb)

Step 3: After download is complete, unzip the file and set border_dune_desktop.png as your desktop background. Start GeekTool.

Step 4: Go ahead and drag out a image box via the image plugin. from the properties set image by clicking ‘set local path’ and navigating to the file border_dune_desktop_overlay.png. You can go ahead and stretch this image to fit perfectly over the section of the desktop it resembles. Think of it as a jigsaw puzzle.

Step 5: Double click the geeklet date.glet. GeekTools will ask if you want to execute this command. Go ahead and hit YES. Everything is already configured. Just drag it to the position shown in the image above. Right click the script and select ‘send to back’.

Step 6: Repeat Step 5 with time.glet

Step 7: Double click the geeklet Weather (info).glet found in the weather folder. GeekTools will ask if you want to execute this command. Go ahead and hit YES. Note: The script frame will remain empty. Do not worry about that for now.

Step 7: Repeat Step 5 with Weather (image).glet found in the weather folder.

Step 8: Repeat Step 5 with Weather (description-2day).glet found in the weather folder.

Step 9: Double click the geeklet Dateline Calendar.glet. GeekTools will ask if you want to execute this command. Go ahead and hit YES. Everything is already configured. Just drag it to the position shown in the image above. Right click the script and select ‘bring to front’.

Step 10: Thats it! Hopefully your desktop will now resemble the one in the image above.

A few things to point out:

  1. The Date and Time – The date and time format can be configured in a number of ways. Head on over to tutsplus for more info.
  2. The Weather – The weather geeklets in the zip folder are all configured to my city and country. You will need to configure them to your location. Head on over to Mac OSX Tips to get the down low.
  3. The Dateline – While you can change the font of each geeklet to any installed font, the dateline will require a monospaced font to display properly (alignment issue) – the one used in this desktop is Deja Vu Sans Mono.
  4. Hidden Numbers – You can use any wallpaper you wish and tweak each geeklet to suit your needs. To get the hidden numbers effect you will need an image editing program such as photoshop to create an overlay. Check out this Youtube video on how to get the desired effect.

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