We spend a lot of our time looking for stuff—news, sports scores, the weather, stock quotes, clothes to buy online, we monitor eBay auctions, and do a lot of research on everyday things every day. Now, what if your Mac could do the searching for you, and when you woke up in the morning you would go to your Mac, press one button, and it would bring all that information—stuff that you yourself chose—right to you? You wouldn’t have to go to a single website—all your stock quotes, weather for your town, your flight status for that day, news, eBay auctions, and any one of the hundreds of things you choose could be right there waiting for you each morning. Wouldn’t that be cool? It sure would be. Now if only your Mac had a feature like that. Unfortunately, it doesn’t, so you’d better set your alarm an hour or so earlier so you can get up and start gathering all this information, because you don’t want to start your day without it. Now, although your Mac doesn’t have that feature, mine actually does. That’s right, you see I have high-level connections deep within Apple itself, so they customize special “secret” versions of Mac OS X Leopard just for me with features I alone can access. For example, they added a special feature to my Mac called “Dashboard,” where all this information is brought to me by just clicking on a Dashboard icon down in the Dock (don’t bother looking down in your Dock, it’s not there, because this is a feature strictly for cool insiders like me, with levels of access others can only dream about). I’m sure you understand they can’t give out features like Dashboard to just anyone, or then everyone would have that kind of power right at their fingertips. That’s not to say that one day in the distant future you won’t look down in your Dock and see something like Dashboard, but when you do, just know that I’ve already moved on to something even more secretive and special called “Time Machine”, which, of course, is only on my Mac and my Mac alone.
Dashboard is one of my all-time favorite Mac OS features, because if you take just a few minutes and set it up now, it can save literally hours each week. Here’s why: most people spend a certain amount of time each day (or numerous times a day), digging up things like the weather, what their stocks are doing, looking up things in the dictionary, digging up phone numbers, checking to see what’s playing at the movie theater, etc., and this takes us hopping from website to website to website to gather all this info. But what if all this info was already waiting for you? What if you only went to one place, and it was already gathered for you? That’s what Dashboard does—it gathers the info you want and brings it to you, instead of you going and tracking it down all over the Web. To launch Dashboard, you can either click on the Dashboard icon down in the Dock (as shown here), or simply press F4 on your keyboard (F12 on older keyboards). The Dashboard “widgets” (that’s Apple’s name for those little applications that do all your bidding) appear right over whatever you were last working on, but they are easy to see, because when you open Dashboard, it dims the screen behind your widgets.