Simulating the old Mac Dashboard in Sonoma

I haven’t seen the technique below mentioned anywhere, but I think it’s an exciting way to make sense of Sonoma widgets.

After you install Sonoma, you’ll probably notice a disturbing change in the default behavior—clicking on an open area of the desktop pushes all open windows off the screen (previously, it simply foregrounded the Finder). So, one of the first things you’ll probably do is change that back by changing the option System Setting>Desktop & Dock>Desktop &Stage Manager> ’Click wallpaper to reveal desktop’ to ‘Only in Stage Manager’. The default version of that option (‘Always’) pulls back the windows to reveal the widgets hidden behind them. Of course, if you haven’t defined any widgets, it’s pretty useless.

So, on an empty desktop, go ahead and select some desktop widgets and place them around the desktop. You’ll notice that if you have any objects on the desktop, the widgets will push them around. Once you open some windows over them, the screen becomes pretty ugly, with widgets peeking out behind windows. However, you can clean this up by going to System Setting>Desktop & Dock>Widgets and deselecting ‘Show Widgets on Desktop’. At the same time, change your setting in the ‘Click Wallpater’ setting back to ‘Always’.

Now, in normal operation, your desktop appears as before. But, if you tap the wallpaper, the widget layer is revealed. This is much like the old Dashboard operation where tapping an appropriate function (or keyboard shortcut) would have a Dashboard widget layer overlay your desktop. It’s not quite the same, but it’s close. If you’re in the widget desktop, wallpaper now returns your windows, hides the widgets, leaving the Finder as the foreground app.


Very nice idea. :+1: I sometimes still miss the old Dashboard. Used it way more than I use the widgets revealed by clicking on the menu bar clock in Ventura, that’s for sure.

To me actually that’s not at all useless. I usually have several docs that need my immediate attention sitting on my desktop. Of course I also have a ton of apps and windows so usually lots of those icons are hidden.

I’m very much looking forward to being able to just click on any tiny bit of shining through desktop to immediately reveal all those docs. Now I realize I can already get all my windows out of the way to see my docs courtesy of cmd-F3, but it just seems to me clicking the Desktop is so simple and somehow really intuitive. I definitely look forward to this Sonoma feature. :)

(To get to the Finder, I usually click the Finder icon in my Dock (pinned to the RHS, and always visible). Clicking on the desktop doesn’t foreground my Finder windows anyway.)

I didn’t know that. Thanks!

For years I have had hot corners set to display the Desktop by sliding the cursor into the bottom right corner (and display all windows by sliding into the top left). The advantage of this is that I can click and drag a file into either corner and drop it on the Desktop, or any open window, or I can revel the Desktop, click and drag a file from there into the corner and move it elsewhere. It saves clicks!
This is one of the annoying things about Stage Manager—easy to swap the foremost app, but you can’t drag items into other apps, say a pdf from a Finder window onto an open web browser for it to open. I did show Stage Manager to my wife and she likes it, but when it comes to dragging items between apps she starts to curse!

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Sure you can! Both Ventura and Sonoma. (From the Finder open on the desktop, drag a file to the Safari stage.)

Great post, but just commenting on this: Thank you, Apple! I can’t tell you how much more I prefer this behavior!

Have a look at Yoink. I don’t know how it interacts with Stage Manager but it’s very handy in ordinary mode for dragging to an app you can’t see.


Not into Firefox, though.

Thanks for this Alan,nice to get the big picture. I was just wondering what I thought of it!

I can drop a file from the Finder into Firefox on Sonoma with Stage Manager running.

Basically anything I can drop onto a dock icon, I can drop onto a stage, and it drops into the top window. There’s the same bounce animation. But, unlike dropping onto a dock icon, which will show all windows of the dropped app and allow you to drop onto the one of your choice, SM shows only the top window.