Pimpin' my Mac-in'
August 28, 2012 6:39 AM   Subscribe

Is there an app that does for Macs what Rainmeter does for desktop? I'm not just talking monitoring, like Geektool does; I'm looking for folder/bookmark opening and app launching. I'd like a desktop that gives me one-click access to various places on my computer and online, but that also lets me customize it visually. If there's no one app that does that, how might I go about creating that kind of environment on my own?
posted by Rory Marinich to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I may be mistaken, but I think that Geektool can do all of these things - it's all about just creating new shell items that do whatever it is you want them to do. I had shell items which displayed current iTunes song playing, current date, displayed a webcam etc - you should be able to build what you want with some judicious googling of 'geektool scripts'.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:55 AM on August 28, 2012

The problem with Geektool is that, to the best of my knowledge, it's not interactive. It handles displays well, but I can't find any "click to make this thing" happen plugins.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:05 AM on August 28, 2012

OSX Dashboard? What happens when you hit f12?
posted by unixrat at 7:41 AM on August 28, 2012

Quicksilver? Or whatever its replacement is?
posted by wenestvedt at 7:46 AM on August 28, 2012

You can probably do the 'click to make happen' type things with a combination of Automator workflow apps in your dock and Fluid apps.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:47 AM on August 28, 2012

Quicksilver is good for launching, but I'm really looking for an on-desktop setup. I'm doing this for the sake of tinkering and making something pretty as much as I am for actual utility.

re: Fluid, unfortunately web-based solutions don't allow me to launch apps or open folders. Is there a way of getting a web URL to open applications or file locations? If so, I can just use Plainview, but as far as I know browsers aren't given that much control.

Dashboard would be a neat idea if I knew how to program widgets. Unfortunately, as of OS X Lion the Dashboard has been moved to a separate screen, rather than that cool overlay that it used to be.

Perhaps the solution is to replace my desktop with a full-screen web site – but that would only work if it's possible to open folders and apps from an HTML file.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:59 AM on August 28, 2012

Rory Marinich: "Is there a way of getting a web URL to open applications or file locations?"

If you're familiar with UNIX-style directory formatting, the "file:" protocol is supported in all browsers. For example:

"file:///" = the root directory of your drive ("/")
"file:///Users/[USERNAME]" = your home directory
"file:///Users/[USERNAME]/Desktop" = your desktop

If you enter "file:///" into Chrome, it'll let you navigate around, and you can copy links from there (Safari will open up Finder if you do this, which is not what you want for this purpose).
posted by mkultra at 8:16 AM on August 28, 2012

Tab Launcher lets you set up various links and launchers in a visual way, sort of like another dock.

I'll also mention Alfred, just in case, but I suspect it's not exactly what you want. (It's kinda sorta like Quicksilver.)

ForkLift is an interesting program that allows you to make "synclets" and "stacks" - probably not a total solution, but might work for some things.
posted by agentmitten at 8:22 AM on August 28, 2012

Oops - forgot iStat Menus - good if you are looking for system monitor-y things.
posted by agentmitten at 8:24 AM on August 28, 2012

Dashboard would be a neat idea if I knew how to program widgets.

Dashboard widgets are just web pages. They can contain forms which can call shell scripts. Pretty simple to build if you have any web coding experience (which unless I'm mixing you up with someone else ISTR you do?)

I hear you on the separate screen vs on-the-desktop thing -- it bothered me at first too. I currently think of things as divided between passive, always-on display (which I do through geektool) and active, interactive things (which are on the dashboard that I call in as needed.) Works pretty well, but you're right that it's not exactly what you're asking for.
posted by ook at 8:40 AM on August 28, 2012

I was also going to suggest Alfred.
posted by Dansaman at 9:39 AM on August 28, 2012

mkultra: Yay, that works! Opening Finder is exactly what I wanted, actually. Now to find a way to launch apps from the browser...
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:18 AM on August 28, 2012

Depending on how good your Applescript chops are, you can create an Applescript app bundle and register URL handlers with it. Here's a doc explaining the process:


Seems like you could create a single URL handler and then work out how to add arguments to do the assorted things you need done.

You might also want to look at Platypus or Pashua, which provide ways to bolt rudimentary native OS X GUIs onto any script.
posted by mph at 10:58 AM on August 28, 2012

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