macOS desktop widget switching

Posted on 2024-04-17 09:26 +0100 in Tech • 2 min read

When desktop widgets first turned up in macOS I was pretty quick to embrace them. On my personal Mac Mini I use a pair of screens, the right one mostly given over to Emacs, and there was generally room to space there. These days that screen generally looks something like this:

The usual layout of my right screen

Recently I've got into streaming while I do some coding and it's the right-hand screen that I work on and capture using OBS. When I was setting this up I realised that the widgets being there could be a problem; not because they could distract or anything, more that they could, at times, contain sensitive information (there's my reminder list and my calendar there after all).

What I needed was a quick method of hiding all the widgets, and showing them again later, without it being a lot of faff.

With a little bit of digging around on the net I finally came up with a pair of fish abbreviations that do just the job!

abbr -g widoff "defaults write StandardHideWidgets -int 1"
abbr -g widon "defaults write StandardHideWidgets -int 0"

Now, when I'm going to stream, part of my "getting stuff ready to go live" checklist is to run widoff in the terminal; once I'm finished I can then just run widon again to have them come back.

Fast, clean, handy.

I've also got a pair for when I'm using Stage Manager:

abbr -g smwidoff "defaults write StageManagerHideWidgets -int 1"
abbr -g smwidon "defaults write StageManagerHideWidgets -int 0"

Although, really, I can't remember the last time I used Stage Manager. I dabbled with it for a wee while, found it vaguely handy in a couple of situations, but it doesn't seem to have stuck as part of my workflow or work environment.