Run widgets prior to install

Are you addicted to Dashboard widgets? Do you find yourself checking Apple’s Dashboard Widgets download page daily, perhaps even hourly? Do you download many widgets and go through the installation routine, only to try them out and decide you don’t want to keep them around? Or do you have a collection of widgets that you use only occasionally, and would rather not see in the Dashboard bar, forcing you to page through many widgets in order to find those you do use regularly? Or do you develop widgets, and would rather not see your in-development projects in the Dashboard bar?

Well, here’s a nifty trick that will let you simply run a widget, without installing it first. Assuming you are a Dashboard widget junkie, you know what happens after you download and uncompress a widget, then double click it: you get the Widget Installer screen:

Click Install, and the widget loads in a “temporary” window, where you can see what it looks like, then choose to Keep or Delete it. If you choose to keep it, of course, you’ll have to use the Widgets widget (or the Finder) to remove it later on. As an alternative, here’s how to use a widget for as long as you’d like without making the decision to keep it permanently.

When the widget installer loads, just press and hold Command and Option. When you do, the Install button changes to a Run button:

Click that, and Dashboard will open, displaying the widget you just launched. You can use it as you normally would—modify its settings, move it about, view its output—and it will behave just like any other open widget on the Dashboard. But when you close it, that’s it—it’s gone. The widget file will still be there in your Downloads directory (or wherever you stored it), but the widget won’t be found in the Dashboard bar.

As noted in the intro, you can use this trick for anything from testing widgets you’ve downloaded to building a collection of rarely-used widgets (just put them all in a folder, and use the run-only trick when you want to see one).

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