Getting Started with GeekTool [Mac How-To]

A few days ago, I pointed out that GeekTool, one of the most powerful customization tools available for the Mac, is now available in the Mac App Store. I promised in that article that I would do a short write up on how to use GeekTool. I know that it can be a daunting task for those who are new to the application. That’s why I have decided to show you how to set up a simple geeklet.

The geeklet, which is what you get when you place a GeekTool script on your desktop, that I am going to show you is a simple clock. It will display the time in 12 or 24 hour format based on your clock settings. It is essentially a desktop clock that shows a mirror of what is on your internal clock. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Download and install GeekTool.
    geektool-mas.png
    That’s an easy one. You can grab it from the Mac App Store.
  2. Open GeekTool and select Shell.
    geektool-window.pngYou will see 3 different options when you open GeekTool. Click and drag ‘Shell’ to the desktop, and a new window will open.
  3. Type ”  date ‘+%I:%M:%S %p’ ” into the Command box.
    command-geektool.jpg
    So this window can be a little daunting. There are a ton of options that you don’t need to touch. For this step, simply copy and paste that code string into the Command Box.
  4. Set the Refresh rate to 1 second.
    refresh-geektool.jpgIf you want this clock to actually work correctly, then you need to set it’s refresh to 1 second. That option is right under the command.
  5. Optional: Change the Font Color and Size.
    font-geektool.jpgThis last step is optional, but it can make a world of difference. Towards the bottom of the Properties windows, you will see a bar that says ‘Click here to set font & color.’ Click that to do what it says.

If you did everything correctly, you will now have a working GeekTool clock on your desktop. You can move it around you desktop to wherever it works best for you. Mine is in a speech bubble in my Doctor Who comic desktop. I’ve seen them carefully placed behind image geeklets, as backgrounds and even made gigantic. The only limit is your creativity.

If you want to find more unique geeklets, I recommend you check out Mac OS X Tips. They have a great database of cool and unique uses for GeekTool. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave a note in the comments below.

GeekTool Released for Free in the Mac App Store

For as long as I have been using computers, I have been obsessed with customization. I themed all my machines growing up, giving them looks that made my father crazy. I would turn my desktop into the control deck of a Sci-Fi space ship, or give it a pirate feel. When I first bought my Mac, I thought I would never be able to do anything like that again.

Boy was I wrong.

Quickly, I learned of a huge community of Mac customization fiends, and made myself one of them. I learned the tools of their trade, including BowTie and Photoshop. Then, I dove deeper into the scene and discovered GeekTool. Once I learned its secrets, I could make my Mac desktop much more personal than any Windows machine I had ever owned.

If you aren’t familiar with GeekTool, then you are probably missing out. It allows you to create simple bits of code or images that exist on your desktop. While that sounds a little boring, allow me to assure you that it isn’t. You can create working clocks, rolling tickers for stock information, and even constantly updating weather information. The possibilities are almost endless.

Now, I have some really good news for old and new GeekTool users. Tynsoe, the developer behind GeekTool, has released it into the Mac App Store. This means that you no longer have to hunt it down on the internet, install it manually, and then try to keep it updated by yourself. The Mac App Store will take care of all those messy parts for you, leaving you to play with your new customization toy. I know that many are wondering how to use GeekTool effectively, and I promise that I am working on a handful of posts on just that subject. Keep your eyes peeled and your tabs open to Techie Buzz to find out more. Until that happens, take a look at my GeekTooled desktop, featuring the great Sci-Fi series ‘Doctor Who’.

GeeMail v1.0: An Adobe AIR Desktop Alternative for GMail

geemasil-logoMany a time just opening a browser for the sake of checking your emails isn’t a great option. Specially if you have a browser starting which means losing out on your memory resource. GeeMail is a desktop client for GMail distributed by Sourcebits. This small application helps you to check your email right from the desktop. It allows you to perform elementary email tasks too.

Some of the best features of GeeMail are as follows :

1. No configuration is required to allow communication with your GMail.When you are online just run the application and login as you will from a browser. It will automatically fetch your mails from Google.

2. You compose your mails offline and click send. When GeeMail detects an internet connection it will send your mails automatically.

3. The user interface looks exactly like GMail . So you don’t have to spend time getting used to it.

Installation:

1. Download GeeMail. The tiny app runs on Adobe AIR platform. Hence you need to have it (Adobe AIR) installed on your PC before you could try GeeMail. In case you don’t have Adobe AIR already, download it here.

2. Run the geemail.air file to install GeeMail in your computer.

geemail-installation

3. You need to confirm the installation to start it. Click Install.

4. Installation preferences are already checked for you. Change them if you need to and click Continue.

geemail-installation-preferences

5. Once the installation is complete, the GeeMail window will open up asking for your username and password. You will to need provide that in order to log in to Gmail just as you do while using a browser. Following is a look at your Gmail account using Geemail.

geemail-window

7. Click Sign outwhen you are done and it will sign you out of your Gmail Account.

During my brief experience with it, it performed a bit slower than the regular Gmail web interface. However, the interface is brilliant and put together in a clean manner unlike other heavy-duty Gmail desktop clients. GeeMail is compatible with Windows, Linux and Mac.

Nice, isn’t it? Though it is not offering the extra edge as of now, don’t be surprised if it does so in future. So from this point on, you need Gmail, u won’t need a browser.

Fly On Desktop – Great Joke or Great Pet?

flyHave you ever had a fly land on your computer monitor or notebook screen? Yes, and you are tempted to swat the little beastie, but you sure don’t want to break the screen, do you? Now you can bring this dilemma to life with a simple program that puts life-like flies all over your desktop.

flyondesktop2

FlyOnDesktop is a 673kb download and installs on WinXP, Vista and 7. Once installed it can be set to run automatically when Windows starts. You’ll find a fly icon in the system tray and right clicking on it lets you set the number of flies spawned at startup.

I found the best setting was one fly. When you see one of these flies on the screen, they look very real. They even walk around the same way real flies do.

Tip: Double-clicking a fly will remove it from the desktop.

Be sure to check out some of the jokes and pranks we’ve written about over the last few years.

Disclaimer: No real flies were harmed during the production of this post.

arrow-down-double-3 Download FlyOnDesktop

This software is highly recommended and safe for all ages.

techiebuzzrecommendedsoftware1

Inbox2 Beta: Access Facebook, Twitter and Gmail From The Same Window

Inbox2 is a desktop client that brings the social networks and email accounts under one roof. The social networks you can connect are Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and email services like Gmail, AOL, Yahoo, Hotmail are also supported.  If you choose to use your custom mail server, go ahead and choose the option Other.

Download Inbox 2 and install it on your PC. You will need to provide your email address to download the tool. After installation is complete start the application. Choose the social network or email provider from the list and log into it. You can add as many services as you want.

Add Accounts

Once you have done that, press the button Next Step and proceed to the main window. You will be asked to enter your full name and the default account. Once selected, use the Get Started button to open the main window.

Add default account and full name

Here is how the main window looks like. All the emails as well as the updates from the social networks are shown in the right sidebar, while the content of the default account are shown in the middle section.

Inbox2 window

Techie Buzz Verdict:

The desktop app has a very impressive and nice looking interface which is easy-to-use and productive at the same time. Accessing all the social networks and email account is very easy. Although it lacks many features that other apps (read Digsby) of its kind offer. While using the tool (and  specially  after I added Facebook) it crashed several times which was quite frustrating. Although I loved the minimalist approach. The tool may not be a must-use tool now but its definitely a must-try one.

Techie-Buzz Rating: 3.5 / 5 (Very Good)

TweetOBox : A New Twitter Client Meant For Windows Desktop

tweetobox-logo [Windows Only] TweetOBox is a new generation Twitter desktop client for Windows users. The tool offers a nice interface to try if you are bored with the most popular Adobe AIR based Twitter tools. The app lets you do all the common tasks related to Twitter which includes tweeting your updates(with links and pictures), replying or retweeting any tweet, sending direct message to anyone. In addition to these you can also filter your twitter stream choosing any location or people.

tweetobox-window

Click the Tweetbutton at the top to post your tweet. Each tweet on your home screen offers various options like reply, retweet, direct message, favorite, delete, add to list and many more.

tweetobox-options

[Download TweetOBox]

Techie-Buzz Verdict :

The tool is in beta stage and hence there are lots of bugs which need to be taken care of. The tool is pretty solid but as it is new the plug-in support is not that many to choose from. The app froze on me couple of times while using it on my laptop. The app is yet to fulfill its promises but I am sure it will do so in the future releases.

Techie Buzz Rating : 3/5 (Good)

How to Hide Desktop Icons (Win XP)

desktop-cc-icon Some people drop shortcuts and files all over their Windows Desktop. The result will be something between rigid organization and total chaos. There are a few people who can’t stand to see anything on their Desktop except the nice wallpapers they put there. Here are a few tips for these neat freaks.

A. Right Click Method
— If you’ve been around Windows awhile, you probably already know this method. Right click anywhere on an empty area of your Desktop, and choose “Arrange Icons By“, then select “Show Desktop Icons“. Use this method to show or hide icons any time you wish. Just be aware that it takes Windows a seemingly long, 5 or 6 seconds to actually react to this choice. Why does it take so long? Ask Bill Gates.

showdesktop-icons-right-click

B. Registry Hack

— If you plan to make changes to the registry, be sure to create a backup before making changes. You can use the ERUNT tool to back it up, create a System Restore point, or you can read my post on how to use Regedit.

This hack will hide all the desktop icons until you remove it. Open Regedit and navigate to:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ SOFTWARE\ Microsoft\Windows\ CurrentVersion\ policies\ Explorer

Then add a new DWORD named NoDesktopwith a value of 1.

Here’s the registry merge script in case you want to create a .REG file.

——

REGEDIT4

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\policies\Explorer]
“NoDesktop”=dword:00000001

——

If you don’t understand something in this section, I’ll remind you to read my post telling you how to use Regedit. Don’t mess with the Windows Registry unless you have a basic knowledge of how it all works.

C. Freeware app Desktop Control Center

— Ok, I’ll confess, I am one of those neat freaksat times and my Desktop has way too many icons on it. My favorite method for hiding them is a little utility created by Robert Hess, a Microsoft Software Designer.

Desktop Control Center (DCC) is one of those hard to findutilities, written way back in the early 1990’s. It’s tiny, at 19k, and it’s a stand-alone, single executable file.

I usually set a link to it in my Quick Launch as shown below. The second, green icon is Desktop Control Center.

desktop-cc-quick-launch

Once launched, it’ll give you the option to hide all the icons, when you chose Hide the Desktop Window.

desktop-cc-app

You can close the DCC app as soon as you’ve made a choice. It doesn’t need to continue running. The reason I always place it next to the blue Show Desktopshortcut, is that when you hit Show Desktop, all your application Windows will minimize just an you’d expect, however, all your hidden icons will temporarily show on the desktop for you as well. Now that’s a neat trick.

Oh, in case you want it, here’s the green desktop icon I made for the Quick Launch shortcut. I created it with IcoFX.

The original icon for DCC is not very nice looking.

old-vs-new-icon

Download Desktop Control Center

By the way, I have to give DCC a thumbs up. It’s a great little app.

techiebuzzrecommendedsoftware1

Conclusion:

I’ve shown you three ways to hide the Desktop icons. Do you have your own special tricks for organizing and hiding icons on the Desktop? If so, please comment below.

Easy Screen Rotation with iRotate

irotate-example

[Windows All] Most of today’s graphics cards support the ability to rotate the screen display. Many people prefer to mount their monitors sideways, so that they can more naturally edit long document pages or read long web pages. On many PCs, the graphics card may support rotation, but the display properties don’t show the rotation settings, or a specific screen utility is missing. If you need an easy way to rotate your displays, iRotate is an option you should try. Here’s what the author says about it:

iRotate provides convenient access to the native rotation capabilities present in contemporary display drivers, via a popup menu accessible from the system tray and optional system-wide hotkeys. It’s no longer necessary to resort to bloated Windows hacks, additional software layers or phantom drivers to achieve content rotation.

For example, if I’m reading an eBook in the Kindle application on my Windows netbook, iRotate allows me to turn my netbook sideways and hold it like a real book. On the left side of this post, you can see what my display looks like. It’s almost like reading a real book.

The iRotate utility resides as an icon (or icons) in your system tray when it’s running. You can either right click on the icon or use the default hotkeys as shown below.

irotate-menu

In the image above, you can see that iRotate supports multiple monitors. This screen app works for most graphics cards, and it’s only about 125k in size. I think that’s amazing.

Download iRotate

Note: The download link is a little hard to spot. Look in the upper left corner of the web page, as shown in the image below.

irotate-download

Techie Buzz Verdict:

The iRotate program is small, light on resources, and works flawlessly for most graphics cards. It’s free for personal use, and I can’t think of any reason not to give it a big thumbs up.

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

Buzzbird – Yet Another Cross Platform Twitter Client

buzzbird-logo Buzzbird is an open source MIT licensed Twitter client that helps you to stay updated with the service. The tool is developed on Mozilla XUL Framework. Most of the coding of the app is done using JScript. The application works on Mac OSX, Linux and Windows.

Download Buzz Bird and install it on your computer. The application lets you perform all the necessary actions related to Twitter (like favorite, retweet, reply, direct message). URL shortening is automated. Is.gd and tinyurl are the two services you can choose from.You may also select one from the two methods of posting update while retweeting any tweet; the two formats being Tweet (via @screenname) and RT @screenname: Tweet.   The tool does not support image sharing though.

buzzbird-window

Techie Buzz Verdict

The app provides a very basic interface for users which makes the tool very easy to use. The cross platform compatibility makes it acceptable to a large number of Twitter users. I have used the tool and have not yet found any major bug in it. Hence on an ending note, I must say that the tool is definitely worth trying.

Techie Buzz Rating : 4.5/5 (Excellent)

Desktop Clock 7 – An Analogue Clock For Windows Desktop

[Windows Only] If you are keen to display a bigger clock on your Windows desktop here  is something you may find interesting. Desktop Clock 7 is  a free clock application that displays an analogue clock on your Windows desktop  with a second hand and date on it.

desktop-clock-7

The clock can be moved to any part of the screen. You can also resize it  according to your needs. The clock uses your system time to display itself.  You can also show date or custom text inside the clock screen. The  clock can be placed over all other application windows.

[Download Desktop Clock]

Techie Buzz Verdict

Windows has its own clock displayed on the taskbar. The desktop clock we are talking about here does not make the time viewing any better, but what I obviously like about it is the nice analogue interface. The clock tool is not something you can’t work without, but it definitely keeps the time in focus.

Techie-Buzz Rating : 3/5 (Good)