How to Completely Disable Dashboard in Mac OS X

Mar 14, 2007 - 14 Comments

Dashboard is the kind of thing you either love or hate, using the widgets constantly or not at all. How much use you get out of Dashboard will probably determine if you want the feature to stick around in Mac OS X or not. As regular readers may recall, we have discussed how unused Dashboard widgets can take up a lot of memory and slow your systems performance on older Macs running versions of OS X prior to more modern releases with better memory management (think Leopard, not Mavericks), and we also showed you how to reclaim that memory by terminating the individual processes. But of course users can choose to go further, and this is relevant to all versions of OS X, so for those that don’t use Dashboard or its widget features at all, we’ll show you how to disable Dashboard completely (but don’t worry, it is just as easy to enable again should you change your mind).

Disabling Dashboard in Mac OS X Completely

This defaults trick works in all versions of OS X that have Dashboard, including Leopard, Snow Leopard, Lion, Mountain Lion, and Mavericks.

Turning Dashboard off and on is done easily through the Terminal, so your first step is to launch the Terminal app which is found in the /Applications/Utilities/ folder. If you are not comforatble with the command line, it’s best to leave this alone. If you are comfortable with Terminal, follow these simple steps to completely turn off the widgets and Dashboard feature:

Turning Off Dashboard

Type or paste the following exactly into the Terminal window:

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

Next, kill the currently running Dashboard by killing the Dock (the Dock will reload itself, don’t worry):

killall Dock

That’s it, now Dashboard is completely disabled. Hit F12 or swipe around in Mission Control or Spaces, and nothing will happen. Dashboard is completely unloaded from OS X and will no longer be a part of the Mac experience.

But what if you had a change of heart and want Dashboard and your favorite widgets for conversions, weather, dictionary, web pages, sports scores, stocks, all that helpful stuff that you can get access to at the tap of a key? Getting Dashboard back in action is just as simple as turning it off, so fear not and regain the feature again.

Re-Enabling Dashboard

Decided you want to turn Dashboard back on again? No big deal, you can type or paste the following exactly into the Terminal window:

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

Again, kill the Dock, which will reload the now activated Dashboard:

killall Dock

That’s all there is to it! Summon the Dashboard widgets as usual and you’ll be back to normal, good as new.

If you don’t want to disable Dashboard completely, but want to regain some of the lost memory that is being hogged by open Widgets, check out this article to Free up System Memory by killing Dashboard widgets. This is less important for modern versions of OS X, but earlier versions of Mac OS can benefit greatly from limiting the amount of Dashboard widgets that are loaded or live.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in How to, Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

14 Comments

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  1. niclet says:

    Mmm, works very well. Good tip, thanks.

  2. niclet says:

    Hey, I know it’s not exactly on the same topic but did you know that Dashboard is managing a cache folder? It is possible to speed it up by wiping its cache.
    Take a look to this tip at macosxhints:
    http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20061002101155933&query=dashboard

  3. archimedes says:

    I like Dashboard too much to disable it but I could see how this would be useful

  4. dumble says:

    Is there a way to kill the annoying preview that Leopard uses to constantly update items in the Dock? I don’t need it, don’t want it, and I know it comes at a price (memory). I’d be okay without all the flipbook fanciness in the folder previews as well.

  5. [...] How to completely disable Dashboard – OS X Daily (tags: dashboard osx kill optimization hacks) [...]

  6. WoWist says:

    This worked quite fine, thanks! On normal use I like Dashboard, but I have created a separate user for games only. Under that gamer account on my Mac I have put the eye candy to the least, set background 50% gray, disabled all unnecessary tools&toys – and now disabled the Dashboard, too.

    Of course I could just buy some extra memory, but this is cheaper (=for free, as in beer) :-D

  7. Chris says:

    Thanks! I never really used dashboard.

  8. Simon says:

    Thanks, this is the third time I’ve used this page – one for each upgrade of OSX! Cheers!

  9. Paul Christy says:

    Thanks SO much! I’ve always hated Dashboard, and have been waiting for Apple to get rid of it. It was always popping up when I didn’t want it, while I was editing or otherwise doing something useful. Now it’s gone! YES!

  10. Joanna says:

    Finally got rid of this rubbish! I hate useless crap on laptop.

  11. Tim says:

    Still works in OS X Mavericks!

  12. Cool! It worked for me in OS X Mavericks… Thanks!!

  13. Thanks, worked like a champ in Mavericks 10.9.3. The Dashboard is evil, if you accidentally swipe Dock freaks out on my kit. Laptops are for using like a laptop not pretending its an iPad :/

    Cheers.

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