Get Dashboard Up and Running Again in macOS Mojave

Dashboard, the secondary desktop introduced with OS X Tiger, is gone, vamoosed, kaput; it’s an ex-desktop. With the advent of macOS Mojave, the Dashboard and all of those productive widgets are gone. Such is the penalty paid for progress. Or is it?

If you’re a fan of Dashboard and all of its funky widgets, such as weather, an assortment of clocks, a calendar, local movie listings, stocks, and whatever else you may have loaded into the Dashboard environment, the good news is that the Dashboard isn’t really gone, Mojave just turned it off by default.

Now, having Dashboard disabled by default may be an indication of what is in store for Dashboard down the road. Dashboard widgets, those mini applications, haven’t seen a lot of activity from developers in quite a while, and most of the widgets can be replaced with apps from the Mac App Store. And if rumors are to be believed, some iOS apps, beyond those included with Mojave, may in the future make the jump to macOS. In that case, the Dashboard environment may just not make a lot of sense anymore. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy it for now.

Enabling the Dashboard
It’s an easy process to turn Dashboard back on:

(Use the Mission Control preference pane to enable Dashboard, as well as to select what mode it will operate in.)

Launch System Preferences by clicking or tapping its icon in the Dock, or selecting System Preferences from the Apple menu.

Select the Mission Control preference pane.

Locate the dropdown menu next to the Dashboard text.

Use the dropdown menu to select one of the following:

  • Off: The default state for Mojave. The Dashboard is turned off and can’t be used.
  • As Space: The Dashboard environment is treated as a separate desktop space. You can switch into and out of the Dashboard space using the Spaces bar, keyboard shortcuts, or gestures.
  • As Overlay: This is the classic method of displaying the Dashboard, as an overlay above your normal desktop.

Make your selection from the dropdown menu.

You can now quit the System Preferences.

Accessing the Dashboard
There are a number of ways to access the Dashboard, though the most common is to use the F12 or the Fn + F12 keys (depending on the keyboard type you’re using). Pressing the F12 key will either display the Dashboard as a space that slides into place, replacing the current desktop or other active space, or as an overlay on top of the current desktop.

There are additional ways to access the Dashboard once you have turned the feature on:

Launch the Mission Control preference pane, as you did earlier.

In the Keyboard and Mouse Shortcuts section, you can assign keystrokes or mouse buttons to perform specific tasks. Look for the Show Dashboard text. Next to the text are two dropdown menus; the first can be used to assign any of the function keys, F1 through F19 (your keyboard may not have all 19 function keys). You can also use the Shift, Control, or Command keys in combination with the function keys to create up to 57 possible key combinations to access the Dashboard.

If you would prefer to use your mouse, the second dropdown menu to the right allows you to select from up to seven different mouse buttons to use to access the Dashboard environment.

(Hot Corners allows you to access the Dashboard by moving the cursor into the designated corner.)

Hot Corners are another way to access the Dashboard. With this method, simply moving the cursor to one of the corners of your display can cause the Dashboard to appear. To set up Hot Corners, click the Hot Corners button in the Mission Control preference pane. In the sheet that drops down, select the dropdown menu that corresponds to the display corner you wish to use, and then select Dashboard from the dropdown menu’s list of options.

You can also use the Dock to work with Dashboard. Click or tap the Dashboard icon in the Dock to go directly to the Dashboard. Chances are there’s no Dashboard icon in your Dock under Mojave, but it’s easy to put it back. In the Finder, open the Applications folder, and then drag the Dashboard app to the Dock.

Prefer to use gestures? That’s possible as well:

  • Dashboard enabled as a space: You can use the standard two-finger swipe left or right to move between spaces.
  • Dashboard set as an overlay: You can use a three-finger swipe up to open Mission control, and then select the Dashboard from the Spaces bar.

Quit Dashboard
To quit the Dashboard and return to the desktop:

  • Press the Escape key.
  • Press the arrow icon in the bottom right corner of the Dashboard.
  • When Dashboard is used as an overlay, click or tap in any empty space of the Dashboard.

Adding Dashboard Widgets
Make sure you have the Dashboard environment open on your Mac, then click the plus (+) icon in the bottom left corner.

This will display all of the Dashboard widgets installed on your Mac.

Click or tap a widget, and it will be added to the Dashboard.

Removing Dashboard Widgets
To remove a Dashboard widget, open the Dashboard.

Click or tap the minus (-) sign in the bottom left corner of the Dashboard.

After a moment, each widget will have an X appear next to it. Click or tap an X to remove the corresponding widget.

(Using the Remove button causes all of your widgets to display an X. Click the X to remove a widget.)

Note: Removing a Dashboard widget doesn’t delete the widget from your Mac. The widget can be reinstalled into your Dashboard using the instructions above.

Downloading New Widgets
Apple used to have a fully automated method to download and install widgets. While the automatic aspect of the process is gone, you can still add additional widgets to your collection, using Apple’s old, and no longer supported, Dashboard download site.

Open a Finder window and browse to the ~/Library folder.

Check to see if you have a Widgets folder present. If not, you can create a Widgets folder in the ~/Library folder.

Go to Apple’s Widgets download center at: apple.com/downloads/dashboard/

Browse the library of widgets. When you find one you like, click or tap the Download button.

The widget file will be downloaded to Safari’s default download location, usually the Downloads folder.

Make sure that the Dashboard isn’t open.

Move the new widget file from the Downloads folder to the Widgets folder you created earlier.

Open the Dashboard environment and use the instructions in Adding Dashboard Widgets, above, to install the new widget onto your Dashboard.

(Apple’s old website for downloading widgets is still accessible using the link provided above.)

Create Your Own Widgets
You can create your own widgets using Safari. This type of widget is actually a mini browser that will display a clipped section of a web page. Want to know the local news headlines? How about sports scores? Maybe you’d like to know what new hardware is being featured at the OWC website.

All you need to do is launch Safari and go to the website that contains the information you wish to track.

Once the website loads, in Safari select File, Open in Dashboard.

A small square outline will appear. Place the outline over the area of the website you wish to capture. Use the anchor points on the outline to expand or contract the size of the selection box until it covers the content you wish to capture.

When you have the selection box set, click the Add button in the banner at the top of the browser.

The web clipping will be added to the Dashboard.

(Use Safari to create a Dashboard web clipping widget. The web clipping widget will display the content of any selected website or portion of a website within the Dashboard.)

Dashboard Wrap Up
The Dashboard may have been disabled in Mojave, but almost all of its features and capabilities are still present, requiring only an easy change to one setting to turn the Dashboard back on again.

The only missing piece of the Dashboard environment was the easy way you could browse for widgets, download, and install them, all with just a click. Even though the easy install is gone, the method we described, of dragging and dropping a widget into a widgets folder, is pretty easy on its own.

If you haven’t used the Dashboard and widgets in the past, this is a good opportunity to give them a try.

Note: Some widgets available from the Apple widget download site haven’t been updated in quite a while, and may no longer function correctly.

Additionally, some widgets make use of Java and require the use of a Java runtime environment. If you need to use Java, make sure you install the most recent version available from Oracle, and that you keep it up to date.


LEAVE A COMMENT


  • Thank you so much for this article! I use Dashboard as an overlay and didn’t know about the new settings required to turn that feature back on.




  • I love the Dashboard! I know it’s fashionable for tech sites (not OWC though!) to hope for the immediate death of Dashboard, but I still find it extremely useful. I feel like I press F12 a hundred times a day! Mainly I use the default four widgets. For a quick calculation, check of the outside temperature, or look at a calendar, the Dashboard is hard to beat.

    I’m glad it’s still available in Mojave!

    (And I know I can do the things I mentioned with the Notification Center. I use Dashboard and Notification Center regularly! Sometimes it just depends on how I feel at the moment!)