Disabling Dashboard and Expose

I cannot imagine living in a world without Exposé. Introduced as part of Panther three years ago, Exposé lets you sort through the clutter of open windows with just the touch of a button. Want to see every window you have open at once? Just press a key—F9 by default—and Exposé shrinks all those windows so that they fit on your screen, making it easier to find that e-mail or Web page you’re looking for. Another key—F10 by default—brings every window in the current application to the front while graying out the rest, while a third key—F11—makes every window disappear to the sides of your screen for a clear view of your desktop.

That last key is particularly worthwhile to me. I have a rather unfortunate habit of dragging things—image files, documents, audio clips, you name it—onto my desktop and leaving them there until such time as I require their services. In the pre-Exposé days, that would have meant closing windows or using menu commands to hide everything but my desktop; now all I do is push F11. It’s become such a part of my workflow that when I find myself working on emergency backup iBook powered by OS X 10.2 at home, I’ll absentmindedly press F11 and then become very irritated with the state of the world when nothing actually happens.

Not everyone is an Exposé fan, however—take Macworld.com forum member HillsDavid who would prefer to turn the feature off. Easy enough to do—just go to the Dashboard & Exposé panel of your System Preferences. Once there you can assign new key values for each of the three Exposé modes I mentioned above as well activate screen corners to perform each Exposé function when you move your cursor to the appropriate corner. To deactivate any Exposé feature, just use the drop-down menu to select the minus (-) symbol.

Expose panel

Incidentally, this is the same Preferences panel where you can assign a new function key to activate Dashboard—or disable that OS X 10.4 feature entirely. Just as with Exposé, select the drop down menu next to Dashboard and set it to the minus symbol.

Reader DataRecoveryGuru offers another way to turn off Dashboard, if you’re a more Terminal-savvy user. Just open Terminal in your Applications folder and type this command:

defaults write com.apple.dashboard mcx-disabled -boolean YES

Hit return and type this command:

killall Dock

Once you hit return, Dashboard will be as dead as Dillinger. If you ever want to revive it, follow the advice at this macosxhints.com tip and just change the

YES
in the first command to
NO
. Hit return, restart the Dock with the
killall Dock
command and a return, and Dashboard returns from the Land of Wind and Ghosts.

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