Set Dashboard to Transparently Hover Over the Desktop in Mac OS X
Don’t use Dashboard often or maybe you don’t like Dashboard much in Mac OS X? It’s a great feature but it’s often underutilized, and if changing Dashboards background wallpaper wasn’t sufficient enough for you to start using it again, you can always return Dashboard behavior to the standard transparent hovering state that existed prior to OS X 10.7 (and 10.8 or 10.9 for that matter). This overlay ability makes the feature a lot more useful to many users since it’s quickly accessed and comes and goes on the screen when needed.
The end result of this change pulls Dashboard widgets out of their own dedicated Space in Mission Control, and instead shows widgets directly over the desktop and applications, just like it did in earlier versions of Mac OS X.
How to Set Dashboard as a Widget Overlay on Mac
Letting Dashboard widgets overlay on the Mac OS X screen is a very quick settings change to make, though it’s not labeled that well. Here’s what you’ll want to do:
- Open System Preferences from the Apple menu
- Click on “Mission Control”
- Next to “Dashboard” choose “As Overlay”, or in prior versions of Mac OS uncheck “Show Dashboard as a space”
Now you’ll have to hit the good old F12 button to show the Dashboard instead of swiping left to the containing space with your trackpad. Note that some Mac keyboards may require the use of FN+F12 to activate the Dashboard, or you can just use the Keyboard control panel to set or customize a unique keystroke or Function key combo to summon the Dashboard.
This adjustment is also a great change for users who don’t have a trackpad or Magic Mouse, where swiping and gestures have no roll in their workflow anyway.
So what does the difference look like? Well, if you already forgot what Dashboard was like in Mac OS X 10.6, this is what it will look like. The difference is that widgets hover over the active screen with a transparent layer:
Compare that to the new default Dashboard behavior starting with OS X Lion, Mountain Lion, and continuing through beyond OS X Mavericks, where the Dashboard is a dedicated Space within Mission Control, interspersed with full-screen apps and virtual desktops:
What you use is going to be a matter of preference, but for many users having the Dashboard overlay the active desktop is a much more convenient solution.