My GeekTools Sunset Desktop

Over at one of my favorite sites, Lifehacker, they often times highlight custom desktops made by users. These desktops are primarily Windows desktops as there are more customization tools available to them, but occasionally they show a Mac desktop. So I thought I'd give it a shot using Geektool (free from the App Store), yesterday's photo, and some time and patience figuring out Geektool. Geektool is not the easiest to use application for the Mac, and their documentation is virtually non-existant. But to their credit that say as much in the description of the app. The idea is simple. You drag windows around on your desktop to where you want a piece of code, an image, or a file to reside. So first I had to decide what pieces of information I wanted to display. Date and time were a given. Weather was also a given. And since I'm rarely using my computer without iTunes playing a script to show what was playing on iTunes.

The date and time were easily accomplished using Unix commands. Not familiar with Unix? No problem there are plenty of resources on the web for that. I used Geeklets to get my feet wet with how to use GeekTool, and there are all sorts of "Geeklets" to display all sorts of information. The weather was a little more complex. To get the icon requires a shell script window to download the correct icon for your chosen area, and am image window to grab the download image and display it. To get the current temperature and conditions requires just one shell script window. And to get the 2 day forecast requires yet another shell script window. The only thing I don't like about the weather information is that my location is hardcoded, it won't change based on my location. But I'll look into that.

The iTunes scripts were a bit harder. The playing now information is a combination of a shell script and an Apple Script. The Apple Script pulls the iTunes (or Spotify, if that's your thing) playing information and the shell script takes that and displays it. The same with the playing meter below the playing information. An Apple Script polls iTunes to see where it is in playing the song and the shell script displays it. A nice added bonus is if iTunes isn't open the scripts don't show anything on the desktop.

The last thing I wanted to do to kind of make this stand out a little is to "sink" the time. After all the shot is a sunset so I wanted to make it look like the time was also setting. I had seen this in a number of desktops but there wasn't really an explanation on how to do it. What I ended up doing is opening the background file and selecting a bit of the photo where the ocean and sky border and clipping that out. Then I used an image window and posted it in front of the time

Here's the finished desktop
The finished desktop
iTunes playing
Finished desktop no iTunes
iTunes not playing
The windows of my geeklets
A look at the different "windows"

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