Update: I’ve abandoned GeekTool for NerdTool. It has all the same features, but uses less memory and less processor time, and also has a nicer interface. It was just a little harder to find. Find it here.
Today I discovered GeekTool in earnest. I was reading a blog post about cleaning up and organizing your computer desktop, and it also talked about GeekTool as a method of displaying extra information on your desktop. For a while, I messed with my own creations, trying to get a desktop setup that I really liked. I found it surprisingly hard to choose a font and a color that I really liked for doing large text (as in, 200pt large), so I ended up resorting to copying a GeekTool setup I found online. It doesn’t look half bad:
But though you can go download setups from online, you really lose the true geekiness of GeekTool if you do that, so I’ll try to cast some light on what GeekTool is and how to use it.
What is GeekTool?
GeekTool is a desktop customization tool. It allows you to create small widgets (called geeklets), which do one of three things: display a file, display an image, or display the results of a shell command or script. These widgets are not clickable, and behave as just part of the desktop background, so the overall effect is just like having a dynamically changing desktop wallpaper
Getting Started: Time and Date
Displaying files and images is pretty self-explanatory. The real power comes when you begin using shell scripts. Let’s start with a simple example: the
date command. This simple command gives you access to all the things you’d ever want to do with the date or time.
Day of the week Name:
Date of the Month
date “+ %e”
Hour (24-hour clock)
Hour (12-hour clock)
AM / PM
If you are dying to find more commands, in your Terminal enter
man strftime. For the rest of us, we have all the ingredients we need to build our clock and date functions. First, add a new geeklet of type shell. In the command box, type
date +“%l:%M”. Now, unless you have a light background, you probably won’t see the text, but it is there. The default font is very small and hard to read. Fonts are beyond my realm of expertise, but one that I like very much is this: Helvetica Neue, UltraLight. Customize the color to one that is visible on your desktop. On my desktop, the time is size 225, but you’ll want to play around with it until you find the size that works for you. I would suggest creating separate geeklets for the month name, day, and AM/PM. This will allow you to customize their font settings separately from the time itself.
Continuing… Not here!
I considered writing about more options for configuring your GeekTool, but since it’s already been written about extensively on the internet, I’ll let you all read about it here, and here, and here. If you still want more… I don’t know what to say, except that the internet is a big place — go Google it!