GeekTool – Ultimate Desktop Customization

You’ve probably seen photos somewhere around the internet of desktops with clocks, or with calendars right on the desktop. I know I wondered for a while how to do that, because you can truly just make your desktop look like whatever you want by doing that. Your desktop can give you all the information you need, without ever having to go anywhere else. It’s a brilliant idea, and it’s actually not hard to do at all! All you need is an internet connection, and an imagination; to make your computer amazing. Last week my friend asked me if I knew how people were doing this, and I did have a rough idea of what you were supposed to do. So I looked into it a bit more, and taught myself how to use Geek Tool. I highly recommend this program to anyone, because everyone is able to find a use through Geek Tool.

Maybe you’re really into computer-intensive activities like video editing or photoshopping, and it would help you too see how much memory you’re using, what programs are using the most CPU, or something like that. Geek Tool can help you out with that by giving you those statistics right on your desktop. Or maybe you’re a blogger and looking for quotes for inspiration, there’s a Geeklet for that as well. You can even get things like your Twitter and Facebook feeds right on your desktop. No third party apps required, those a glitched at best anyways, Geek Tool is the ultimate solution to any of your computer connected needs. So I’ll show you my setup right now, so you can have an idea of what you can do with Geek Tool, and then I’ll walk you guys through what you need to do to get started working this out for yourselves! My current desktop is relatively Tron inspired, using a lot of blues and greens, making it look pretty techy I guess. I love the setup and I’ll show you guys how to get it later near the end of the post!


My current desktop, with no active windows.

This is my current desktop setup. Three icons of the apps I use all the time, my iTunes mini-window. So all the text you see on the desktop is relevant somehow. I have the day of the week, RAM used, CPU process, battery information, a calendar view, load averages, and a weather update. You can get whatever you want using Geek Tool.


Hidden dock, magnifying.

If you noticed earlier, I have both my dock and my top menu bar hidden. (I didn’t know you could hide your top menu bar until this post.)But I have my dock on hiding, and shrunk it down to enable magnifying. It’s fast, and keeps your desktop nice and clean.


Inverted, dimmed menu bar.

So my menu bar is black. It doesn’t really hide like I said. It just fades to complete blackness when not in use. To do some really cool stuff with your menu bar and desktop, download Nocturne. It lets you do some really cool stuff. And with a hidden menu bar, you get a really simplistic, minimalist desktop look.


So you’ve seen what I have now, I’ve made a few others as well, but because this same desktop can be downloaded onto your iPhone and iPad, I really like the matching background things I have going on right now. So let’s get you all started on setting up Geek Tool and creating great things.


So, if you’re going to use this program, you’re obviously going to need it. You can download GeekTool 3.0 from here. Now, it’s really not that difficult to use GeekTool at all. There are many YouTube tutorials you can refer to if you need, or you can teach yourself, either way it’s not hard at all. As I mentioned in the excerpt, GeekTool runs through your System Preferences, so you don’t even need to launch another application whenever you want to use GeekTool, it’s just that simple. So once everything is installed and you’ve given it all it’s permissions and whatever, head over to System Preferences and open it up.

What you should see on launch.

You should have a “Properties” window that comes up, and the GeekTool section of your Systems Preferences pane open up. There are 3 different things that you can do with GeekTool, those being File, Image, and Shell. Basically everything that you’re going to be doing is through Shell commands, and just adding in some simple script to the properties.


After adding Shell, this should appear.


To start, simply drag the icon onto your desktop, where a blank square should open up. Once you drop the shell icon onto the desktop, your properties tab should change into this, display the properties for that specific shell command that you just dropped into your desktop. I know this looks intimidating, but you really don’t have to deal with any of it. The only things you need to be aware of are: the command line, the refresh every section, how to change font and colour. Those 3 things are all you need to focus on.

The most critical part of GeekTool is finding the command scripts to enter to get certain things. They are not difficult to find or use, it’s just a matter of copying and pasting the code into the command line to get it all started. I use this website to find a lot of them, but all you need to search in Google is like “GeekTool geeklets” to find many websites that have them hosting. Once you find something you want, copying the text and copy it into the command.


For example, if you add in: date + “%A” into the command line, the day of the week will show up on your desktop. This code would give you the “Saturday” for example. A nice thing about GeekTool is that if you wanted only “Sat” on your desktop, all you have to do is change the capitalized A into a lower case A to shorten the text down! Amazingly simple to start using, with endless possibilities.

That’s really all you need. So if you Google something like “Twitter feed geeklet,” Find the code, copy and paste it into command, and it will start to work. Then the rest is a matter of your customization. The refresh every section works on seconds, so you can tell your computer how often you want it to update your feed. Or update anything else you have, like the clock. The clocks should be set to like “0 seconds” or “1 second” so you are constantly updated and current. Then just change the font and colour to however you like the customize it yourself.

That’s really all you need to do, nothing harder than Googling for codes, but that website I listed is very helpful, and you can find some really cool codes in there to do some really cool things with your desktop, so I hope you guys take advantage of this. Furthermore, it doesn’t lag your computer, it is not memory intensive and does not use much CPU at all. So that’s not something you need to be worried about. Worry about how good your desktop looks once you get started.

Here are some other photos for inspiration while you get working. Play around with it a lot, that’s the best way to learn what these things are capable of. Now this post came around just because someone asked me a question, so don’t hesitate to ask something you want to know more about. Thanks for reading, and I’ll send out some more stuff soon!

iTunes info, lists, folders.

To do lists, completion, calendar, time, dates.


About Eric Brown

just the average teenager. love writing, philosophy, and debating. my opinions are my own, and my style is individual. enjoy.

Posted on June 12, 2011, in Tips and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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