Change the Dashboard shelf's background image:

When you press the '+' symbol in the bottom left corner while Dashboard is active,
the Dashboard shelf slides up into view containing all your widgets.

The background image used for the shelf can be found here:


You can replace this image with any PNG image you like and it'll be tiled,
or you can use a single, full width image.

The shelf is 118 pixels high and as wide as your monitor (1024 pixels in my case),
so you can use those dimensions to construct your own shelf background.

The bottom area (where the widget names appear) will need to be lighter in color for best results, as the text is both light and shadowed.

The height of the text area is 14 pixels.
Note also that you do not need to make your PNG file the full width of your monitor -- the image will repeat horizontally if it's not full-width.
You can use a tiny 2KB PNG to create the above full shelf background.

Speed up Dashboard by clearing out its cache:
Over the course of the past few months, Dashboard had become painfully slow for me, sometimes taking 10 to 20 seconds to load. I took a look at:

~/Library/Caches/ DashboardClient

...and found that the Dashboard cache was 20MB. This seemed excessive,
so I took a gamble and deleted all the files in the DashboardClient folder.
Dashboard now loads almost instantaneously for me.

Quickly free memory used by Dashboard widgets:
If you only use Dashboard on rare occasions, and don't want all those widgets to stay running forever, try the following AppleScript:
tell application "Dock"



end tell

This will relaunch the Dock and, since all the Dashboard widgets are subprocesses of the dock, they will be closed. Widgets will stay closed until Dashboard is invoked again.
This is a handy way to quickly free up the RAM used by open Dashboard widgets.
Run it, and the RAM is released.
Press F12 again after that, and you'll see that your open Widgets are all still open.

Widget Limbo !
When you have dragged a widget out of the Dashboard layer you can make it go into Widget Limbo like this: press and hold the mouse button over the widget; do not move the mouse.
Press F12. Release the mouse button.
The widget will now belong outside (beneath) Dashboard,
but only be visible (in a darkened state) when Dashboard is active.
So it's not possible to close it nor move it. (You can hold the Option key to close a widget).

Draging a widget out of the Dashboard shelf:
  1. Start by pressing F12 or whatever your definded key is.
  2. Click one a widget icon in the Dashboard's shelf, holding the mouse button down on the widget.
  3. Press F12 again. Release the widget.
That's it. To move a widget back into the Dashboard layer, click and hold the mouse on the one you want to get rid of, press F12, and release the mouse button.

Run a widget without installing it:
Normally when you download a widget and double-click it, you are presented with a dialog to install the widget.
You can either cancel, and exit the installer, or click install, and the widget is moved to you widgets folder (Library/widgets).

However, in some situations you don't want to move the widget.
For instance if you are trying out a widget and don't know if you want to keep it, or you are developing a widget and are just testing it out.

To stop the widget being installed:

Hold down Command and Option while double-clicking it.

Instead of an install button, you are presented with Run, which, funnily enough, allows you to run the widget without installing it.
Clicking this opens the widget up in dashboard, but it isn't moved to the widgets folder, instead running it from wherever you downloaded it to.

As a result the widget won't be in your dashboard bar, so it is a nifty trick if you want to save scrolling through loads of widgets (especially if you are a dashboard addict, like TheDashboard).
This also means that once you have closed the widget, its gone for good, and you can't open it up from within the dashboard.
Of course its still sitting in your downloads folder, so a quick Command-Option-Double-Click will have it open and running again.

Resize Web Clip Widgets:
If you use Safari’s new Web Clip feature to make a Dashboard widget out of a small Web item, you may be dismayed to find that Safari enforces a minimum size of about 128 by 128 pixels; you can’t make the Web Clip selection smaller than that.

The solution is simple if not obvious:

After creating the widget, click on the i on the widget’s face and then click on Edit.
You’ll be able to resize and reframe the widget as you wish.

Launch Dashboard with the Mouse:
If you have a multibutton mouse and want to avoid using the keyboard just to invoke Dashboard, assign a mouse button to it instead. Let’s say you have an Apple Mighty Mouse.

Go to the Key-board & Mouse preference pane and click on the Mouse tab.

Then choose Dashboard from the pop-up menu corresponding to one of the buttons.
If you use a third-party mouse with its own software, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for configuring its extra buttons.

Show Widgets on the Desktop:
If you want to have a widget available from the desktop, not just Dashboard, turn on Dashboard’s developer mode.

In Terminal, enter:

defaults write com.apple.dashboard devmode YES

press return and type:

killall Dock

That done, press F12 to fire up Dashboard.
Click on any widget and begin dragging it.
Without releasing the mouse button, press F12 again.

The widget should move out of the Dashboard layer and onto the desktop, floating above all other windows

Disable Dashboard:
If you’d like to disable Dashboard, for either RAM usage or other reasons, here’s how to do it.
It requires a trip to the Terminal, in Applications > Utilities, but it’s not too hard to do.

Open Terminal, and then type this command, followed by the Return key:

defaults write com.apple.dashboard mcx-disabled -boolean YES

This tells the system that you no longer wish to have Dashboard available.
However, the Dashboard task is actually “owned” by the Dock, so to make your changes take effect, you need to restart the Dock.

The easiest way to do that is to type this command into the Terminal (and press Return when done):

killall Dock

After the Dock restarts, hit F12 and you’ll see…nothing at all.
If you run Activity Monitor, you also won’t find any Dashboard widgets in the list of tasks, even if you had several open when you ran the above command.

Dashboard has been eliminated from your system, and won’t return until you tell it to do so.

You can do just that by opening Terminal again, and typing this command:

defaults write com.apple.dashboard mcx-disabled -boolean NO

Once again, you’ll have to use this command:

killall Dock

...to make the changes take effect.
Once you do, though, you’ll find that Dashboard is back as usual—and any widgets you had opened on the Dashboard will still be open.

Dasbhoard Keyboard Shortcuts:
Here are some useful keyboard shortcuts to remember: !

Command-R – Refresh Widget
Command-= – Show/Hide Widget Tray
Command ←/→ – Scroll Widget Tray Left/Right

Hold option and hover over a widget to dispaly it’s close [X] button.

Must press control to get contextual menu, mouse right-clicking does not work.