Dashboard is history in Catalina

For example, Apple Remote Desktop. Seen any updates to that mess? Screen Sharing? Back to My Mac? Safari Extensions, Built-in social media plugins for sharing, etc… the list goes on, and that’s just the very recent.<<

There will be a badly needed update of Apple Remote Desktop with MacOS 10.15. MacAdmins podcast mentioned it. Sefari Extensions are still there, though I think they will be changing the format, possibly to be the same as the new Google Chrome extensions format. I suspect the built-in social media plug-ins for sharing were removed due to Facebook abuses.

It’s an interesting situation. Just because Apple comes up with a technology doesn’t mean it’s any good or that many users will adopt it. I’ve never seen anyone use Launchpad, for instance, though I’m sure some people do. So the question is, what should Apple do with such technologies? The default approach seems to be to leave them alone for some years, and then possibly kill them off if they don’t align with the current direction. Dashboard was very much a creature of its time, but it predates iOS, and developers never really got on board in a big way. Now Catalyst and SwiftUI are the answer to how you make little apps on the Mac (often bringing them over from iOS).

But I don’t want to sound too negative here. We shouldn’t assume that everything Apple does will be great immediately, or if ever. Every company has hits and misses, and we want Apple to keep trying things so the failures are matched by the successes.

That’s how I think about things like Dashboard, if they don’t get attention from users or developers, they don’t get much of Apple’s attention. Eventually they take the feature out, which upsets the group of users who did use it but they can’t keep and maintain everything.

I liked OS X’s Front Row media center app that let you control media with the IR remote; it was good for Macs connected to TVs but I guess not enough people used it. It makes sense, there were never going to be a lot of people connecting Macs to TVs and they developed the Apple TV to be an arguably better solution anyway.

But I don’t want to sound too negative here. We shouldn’t assume that everything Apple does will be great immediately, or if ever. Every company has hits and misses, and we want Apple to keep trying things so the failures are matched by the successes.

I’ve always suspected that the Newton disaster led to Steve Jobs to rethink mobile handheld devices, which led to the development of iPhone.

In addition to losing the ability to run 32 bit apps, Catalina puts the final stake through the heart of Dashboard.

Apple has been neglecting Dashboard for years because there is no way for developers to make money selling widgets.

Apple claims that Notification Center is a good substitute for Dashboard. It isn’t and there are very few widgets for Notifications. So you can get Stocks, Weather or a Calculator but not much else.

There was something quite elegant about dragging my mouse to a hot corner and getting a full screen of widgets. A dictionary, Word of the Day, This Day in History, Currency Conversion, IP Phone Dialer, Movie Previews and Showtimes, What’s On TV Tonight, etc. One click on the right arrow and I’m right back to where I was.

All Apple had to do was MONETIZE widgets and sell them for a buck or two in the App Store. In a year we’d have 1,000 widgets to pick from. And Apple making 30% on every sale.

What do you all think? Did you like and still use Dashboard? Did you believe it gave Apple an advantage over Windows? Or are you someone who won’t miss Dashboard at all?

I haven’t used dashboard since OS X Lion. I won’t miss it at all.

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I’ve also bemoaned the loss of Dashboard here. It does something very simple well. The proposed replacements are all inadequate. From “hardly anybody even knows it exists” and “nobody uses that old junk” to “Apple didn’t support it well” to “who gives?” you’ll get every possible explanation.

For a company with $250B in the bank that finds seamlessly endless amounts of time to tinker with emojis and animojis and wristbands (a step up from socks I suppose) and try out everything from being a hip hop radio station to a TV show producer, I’d expect more effort towards their professional platform and its utility. But obviously that’s so yesterday’s thinking and by far not woke or disruptive enough for this age.

One more thing that made a Mac a Mac, will disappear. Replaced with what is to me meaningless fluff at best and bloat at worst. But hey, Apple gets privacy so all’s good and forgiven, right?

On the bright side, with less Mac advantages around, the argument why we now should finally all switch to iOS and leave this stuffy old legacy platform behind just gets so much easier. And as I’m sure several here will be quick to point out (right after we’re reminded that Apple gets privacy so all is good), this is all part of the indeed successful quest to increase APPL’s market value and that is, after all, the one and only metric. These days you don’t need happy customers for that.

And if I may, just before I go out and enjoy this beautiful day, I have two suggestions for the next “features” they might as well can since they’re either not being used or not developed for: LaunchPad and TouchBar. I promise I won’t miss either.

4 posts were merged into an existing topic: Nonstop whining about how Apple sucks

I just used Dashboard a few times to try it out, and I didn’t find it useful. I had to think about it to remember what it did. But I do still prefer the pull down menu of stuff from the icon on the top left of the menu bar to the dock.

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I’ll miss Dashboard a lot. A one-dimensional list of a limited number of widgets where the size of most widgets can only have two values, vs a two-dimensional grid of widgets selected from (at one time) a huge set of options, most of which can be resized to show as little or as much data as I want—there’s no comparison.

I have a computer that we kept an Irreverent and funny Advent Calendar that ran on Dashboard by Boinx Software. we tried to run it last year at Christmas, but it was very finicky. That I will miss.

I use dashboard daily and am furious that Apple has binned it. To be honest they sealed its fate when they replaced the dedicated button on the keyboard to bring up the dashboard with a key that shows an iPad style menu of alllll your applications - something I’ve always found utterly pointless. Since then I’ve been needing to install and activate function-flip every time I set up a new machine or upgrade the OS so I can retain that one-key functionality. With that key I get clocks in 5 different time zones, a basic calendar display, calculator, a working piano, sticky notes, a currency and measurement converter, and various useful web clips. Saying notification centre can replace even a fraction of that is complete rubbish.
The fact that they decided to put this pointless iPad style menu there instead is I feel indicative of everything wrong with Apple at the moment. They’ve made mobile devices that are very popular and so they continually make their computers more like their mobile devices. Having never been an iOS user I’ve always found these changes unwanted and tend to come at the cost of features that I actually value. Now my intention it to keep running Mojave until the daily reminders to upgrade to Catalina make me break down and submit. Or I find some other operating system that doesn’t suck too much. I’ve been using Macs for over 30 years but argh the modern Apple makes me so angry! Market dominance (perceived or literal) does not suit them.

I use it nearly daily too. My weather app stopped working months ago and the radar app went way before that. But for a quick calendar peek - priceless.

I don’t see that the same month display is in Notifications?

Also, is there a way to bring it up with a keystroke? I hate having to take my hands off the keyboard when I’m typing.


I think you can go to Keyboard in System Preferences then to the Shortcuts tab. Choose Mission Control from the list on the left, then on the right both Show Notification Center and Show Dashboard can be assigned keys. I say “I think” because I’m using a Mojave install that has had settings migrated from the El Capitan machine I’d been using for years, so it’s possible, although unlikely, that it can only be configured that way on older versions of macOS then migrated, but it’s worth a try.

I don’t think that works quite as seamless as it might sound.

You can assign F4 to Dashboard, but then you have to hold fn while hitting the Launchpad key to actually get Dashboard. Unless of course you’ve set up your Mac to always default to fn keys, but then you’d already be pressing fn to get the overlay function anyway. Apple does not IIRC expose the Launchpad key overlay to that sys pref so you cannot repurpose it (unless possibly with 3rd-party tools). I think we actually went over this very problem on TidBITS Talk a long time ago.

I use an Apple Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad on my iMac currently running Mojave. The F5 and F6 keys do not default system functions assgned to them. I assigned ’Show Desktop’ to F5 and ’Show Dashboard’ to F6. I can execute those functions by hitting the appropriate keys without hitting the fn key.

However, I believe that laptops without a Touch Bar assigned those keys to Keyboard lighting, so that functionality is not available there.

You’re absolutely right, Alan. I should have mentioned I had a MBP w/o TouchBar in mind.

On those you can choose to either default to the overlay (media keys etc.) or to fn keys. If you choose the latter you can assign whatever you want, but you then need to hold fn if you want to access an overlay. OTOH if you default to the overlay, you cannot reassign that without using the fn key (because effectively you’re reassigning the fn key, not the overlay).

Ok, I don’t have a laptop with a TouchBar and didn’t know it worked like that. On the four keyboards I use that all have real function keys, assigning Show Desktop to a function key without a builtin function works without simultaneously hitting fn, and assigning it to a function key with a builtin function works by hitting fn-[key].

However, you don’t have to use a function key. For example, I just tried assigning command-option-` to Show Dashboard and that works as expected and is pretty easy to type, so there are a lot of choices if function keys don’t work or aren’t convenient.

And, just to complete this discussion:

On a keyboard with TouchBar, one of the options for the short and extended control strips in Mojave is ‘Show Dashboard’.

I am holding off on Catalina indefinitely. To get a single key to control Dashboard overlay, on iMac, I have checked System Prefs > Keyboard > Use … standard function keys. Then in Mission Control prefs, I have set Dashboard: As Overlay, and Show Dashboard: F12. I have also set Keyboard > Shortcuts > Mission Control to be sure it agrees.

If you’re a mousy person, in Mission Control prefs you can also set up Hot Corners for Dashboard or Notifications or several other doo-dahs. (Personally, every time I set up a Hot Corner I find myself constantly triggering it by mistake.)