Customize Your Mac Desktop the Geek Way with Übersicht

Deep inside our hearts we know that every human being is unique. We don't want to be the same as everyone else. That's why we personalize our belongings to fit our needs and wants, from our appearance to our room to almost everything else in our lives.

It's also true for our gadgets. We buy phone cases, change the computer wallpaper, make a playlist, add stickers, etc. One area that we can personalize in our computer is the desktop. Being that you are a Mac user, the wallpaper is not the only thing that you can adjust. With the help of Übersicht, you can add useful widgets to display virtually anything that you'd like, including the weather, to-dos, appointments, and more.

Uber … What?

Übersicht is an app that lets you build custom widgets to embed on your desktop and display. The functions are more or less similar to GeekTool (Mac) or Rainmeter (Windows). But unlike GeekTool, this app is easier to use and lighter on the system usage. And if you are familiar with HTML and Javascript, you can easily build your own widgets to tailor your specific needs or tweak the existing ones.

Another advantage of Übersicht over its alternatives is that your widget's position won't break when you plug in a differently-sized display thanks to CSS positioning. If you set your widget to stay at "position 10 pixels from the right edge of the screen," it will stay there no matter how large the display is.

If you'd like to test the water, let's continue.

Getting Started with Übersicht

To begin your journey, visit Übersicht's website, then download, unzip, and install the app.


After launching the app, you will find it resides in the Mac's menubar on the top-right of your screen along with the clock, calendar, and other menubar apps.


The next step is to add widgets to the mixture. The installation comes with one widget that you can delete or modify using the "Edit" mode. If you have meddled with web page before, you can see that the basic widget consists of commands in HTML with a mix of CSS.


To add more widgets, head over to the Widgets page and pick the ones that you like. There are literally tons of widgets available, ranging from a simple clock to GitHub activity, from RSS feeds to a random xkcd comic strip. You can sort the listings by the submission date (date), popularity (downloads), or alphabetical (name). And if you are good enough to create a widget, you can also submit your own.


To install a widget, all you need to do is download the widget, unzip it, and move it to the widget folder. You can find the widget folder using Übersicht from the menubar. You can also delete existing widgets by removing them from this folder.


For example, I downloaded and installed a widget called "Evangelion style dashboard widget." And here's what the result looks like. If you are familiar with the anime Evangelion, you will recognize the style.

The widget is kind of a compilation of system information. It will show you a lot of useful info about your Mac including the battery, trash, memory, CPU, IP address, etc. It even has an iTunes mini player for your convenience.


Build Your Own Widget

As mentioned before, to be able to build your own widget you need to have a decent knowledge of HTML and CSS, and explaining about those two would require several other discussions that can't simply be squeezed into this article, so we won't dive into that realm here.

But if you want to try, the best way to start is to modify the widget that comes with the Übersicht installation. Open it with the text editor and tweak it to your liking.

After playing with the app for a while, one thing I can say about Übersicht is that it's light on the system resources. My old Mac already can't handle GeekTool, but it runs Übersicht just fine. And the many available widgets gives you the freedom to make your desktop according to your tastes way before you need to build your own.

So what do you think about Übersicht? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.

Jeffry Thurana

Jeffry Thurana is a creative writer living in Indonesia. He helps other writers and freelancers to earn more from their crafts. He's on a quest of learning the art of storytelling, believing that how you tell a story is as important as the story itself. He is also an architect and a designer, and loves traveling and playing classical guitar.

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