Sunday, April 26, 2009

GeekTool: Good and Bad

GeekTool is a system panel for Mac OSX users, made by Tynsoe. The panel allows text and image commands to be displayed on a desktop through CLI commands. On a person’s desktop, one can monitor a computers temp, ram, uptime, HDD, etc. Pictures that are saved on your hard drive or from a website can also be displayed thought GeekTool on your desktop.

Using GeekTool, I had trouble with some of the commands. It defiantly requires knowledge of file locations and text coding for different file types. Finding a text that fits well with the display is also hard. One bug I found is; if multiple command consoles are live and are clicked, all the consoles are changed to the selected one, this happened several times and re-doing it all can be a hassle and wastes time. The preferences are very customizable but lack some essential features like being able to rotate text.

On the good side, people can get real creative; several people have made their desktop into a continuously updating art piece. As of now there are a few sites where commands can be found, but there aren’t many commands on those sites and even then, some of those commands don’t work or require tweaking. An example would be the iTunes Album Artwork command. This command will require some research to start working.

On my desktop, I have the iTunes “Now Playing” info, Clock, Uptime, RAM usage, and Calendar commands running. In order to make my desktop look cooler, I wanted my GeekTool commands to blend in with my wallpaper. I found a cool wallpaper picture at and photoshoped the picture of the stickynote and copied it several times. Then, I moved all my command consoles over the stickynotes.

I would give GeekTool a 7/10, It's real useful and has useful commands. But, even though I could get some commands running, some really cool and complex actions require lots of work and tweaking. GeekTool may not be fun for people who do not know what they're doing. Most people will struggle with making commands work within GeekTool. It has lots of potential to be a great program. I would love it more if the software was more user friendly. Just having an archive of commands that could be run in GeekTool just with a click of a mouse would make me happy. Below are some screen shots of various commands and a shot of my desktop...