Widgets aren't as common on macOS as they are on iOS, but they can still be used in the Mac Notification Center.
Apple's macOS has supported widgets as a function of the operating system since OS X 10.4 (Tiger) in 2005. At the time, they were part of an application called Dashboard. These mini-applications were presented on a separate desktop. Built-in widgets included stickies, weather, and calculators.
In 2019, macOS Catalina removed the dashboard function and moved widgets to the Notification Center instead.
Widgets are small, self-contained apps that offer small pieces of information and minimal functionality.
In macOS Big Sur, Apple displayed widgets in a two-column grid in the Notification Center on the Mac under Notifications. Each widget can be one of three sizes: small, medium, or large.
You can view widgets at any time by opening the notification center. If you use widgets frequently, it is helpful to assign a keyboard shortcut to this action.
When the Notification Center is open, you'll see a button labeled Edit widgets at the bottom. Click to open the edit overlay. This switches from view mode to edit mode. Your current list of widgets is still on the right. A list of the available widgets is on the left.
To add a widget, you can drag it from the available list and drop it where you want on the Notification Center overlay. Alternatively, you can click on the green plus ((+) Icon at the top left of a widget adds it to the bottom of the list.
When adding a widget, you can choose a size if more than one is available. By default, macOS chooses the smallest size. To use a different size, click S., M., or L. Circle icons under the widget before adding it.
In edit mode, you can remove a widget by clicking minus ((– –) Icon in the upper left corner. You can also remove a widget in either mode by Control-clicking and selecting Remove widget.
You can move widgets in either normal view mode or edit mode. Just drag and drop a widget to move it.
Some widgets offer customization options. Those that do get taller slightly when you hover over them in edit mode. They also show one Edit widget Label near the bottom. Click this button to edit a widget.
Customization examples include changing the Clock City widget or choosing a different theme for the News widget.
macOS supports multiple widgets for its built-in apps. The following apps immediately offer one or two widgets:
Widgets from third party applications
App developers can include their own Notification Center widgets, and many have chosen to do so. As the new home for widgets on macOS becomes more established, a greater number of apps should add support.
The calendar app, Fantastic, contains many widgets for different views of your events. They range from a simple view of the current date to a widget with a list of events, a mini-calendar and the current weather.
bearThe Notes app includes a widget to display a single note and one to display the most recent notes for a search term.
AirBuddy 2 is an app that allows you to track the battery status. Widgets are widely used to show the power levels for your various Bluetooth devices.
Download: Awesome (Subscription Required, Free Trial Available)
Download: Bear (Free In-App Purchases Available)
Download: AirBuddy 2 ($ 9.99)
As part of the Notification Center, Apple makes widgets more available than before so that they can become part of your daily workflow. Widgets provide quick access to the most important information on your Mac.
Widgets work best in small amounts. If you feel like you are suffering from information overload, check out our tips on how to stay focused.
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About the author
(37 articles published)
Bobby is a technology enthusiast who has worked as a software developer for nearly two decades. He loves gaming, works as a reviews editor at Switch Player Magazine and is immersed in all aspects of online publishing and web development.
From Bobby Jack
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