Disabling Dashboard in Mac OS X

One of the supposed wonders of Mac OS X 10.4 “Tiger” was Dashboard, along with those sometimes-useful, sometimes-distracting widgets. Widgets are basically applets that serve simple purposes, which you can call upon your screen in your own organized or cluttered manner.

One problem with Dashboard, though, is that it’s a resource hog. Now if you have the latest MacBook Pro or Mac Pro that might not be much of a problem. But if you’re using an older Mac, like my own PowerBook, then you would surely appreciate any speed improvements, no matter how marginal. And then, of course, there’s the productivity improvement that comes with not having all those distracting pieces of information cluttered on your desktop at a press of a button.

Two steps only

Dashboard is built into the OS X dock, and you cannot just disable it like you would when closing any regular application. Sure, you can just drag Dashboard.app over to Trash, but that might prove to be more problematic, and you would sure find a hard time re-enabling Dashboard when you find the sudden need to use widgets.

Here’s a quick tip from MacWorld. First, you need to open up a terminal session, and then enter the following commands.

  1. defaults write com.apple.dashboard mcx-disabled -boolean YES
  2. killall Dock

The first command disables the auto-launching of Dashboard along with Dock. The second restarts Dock–a step necessary so Dashboard would be closed.

If you want to re-enable dock, execute the above commands again in Terminal, but replace the YES with NO.

As the MacWorld article mentions, there may be other reasons you would want to disable Dashboard, such as when it proves to be too much of a distraction, or even for security purposes.

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