Over the last few years I've become very dependent on the Amnesty Widget Browser and a little Dashboard widget called "iCal Events" to embed a well-styled list of upcoming iCal events into my desktop background. The beauty of the system is that the information is staring me in the face -- I don't have to go anywhere special or take a special action to see my diary.

Both Amnesty and iCal Events are long-abandoned, but I've managed to keep them limping along. The limping is becoming rather bad in Lion, though. I was able to modify the Javascript in iCal Events to let it access my iCloud calendars, but I can no longer move or resize the window it creates, and I can't assign it to "all" desktops under Mission Control. The whole thing feels a bit too fragile now, and I need a modern solution.

I've tried GeekTool and NerdTool, and both offer straightforward ways to get iCal events displayed on the desktop. The trouble is that the output from both is too ugly to look at daily! Fonts and colors can be customized, but I want CSS-level control: spacing and placement, varying colors and shapes depending on the type of information displayed.

I see three possible solutions:

  1. A modern way to embed Dashboard widgets into the desktop in Lion.
  2. A way to style GeekTool output more elaborately than just changing the font
  3. Another solution to getting my iCal Events "in my face" that I haven't considered.

(I am aware that Dashboard can be run in a developer mode that allow one to drag apps out of the Dashboard itself. I've had several problems with this solution. First, the Dev mode doesn't embed the released widgets into the desktop, so when you use a gesture to sweep aside all the windows, the calendar is swept out of view too. Second, when you restart the computer, you have to drag the widget back out again -- it's not automatic.)

Thanks for your thoughts on this.

2 Answers 2


If you decide to look at new solutions, there are a handful of applications that can do this including Blotter and TimeWorks.

I prefer the slightly less in my face menubar solution that Fantastical provides.

  • Thanks for these suggestions, @jaberg. I like the look of Blotter, but I can't tell if it lets me display iCal's events in a simple list -- the screenshots all feature "To Do" lists, but not event lists. Do you know? Timeworks looks clever, but too clever. I don't want my events running around the screen, just sitting calmly on the side. And Fantastical is definitely the most beautiful, but not in my face. If I have to take a special action to check my calendar I tend to miss things (like upcoming birthdays). I miss the days of trial versions!
    – Ash
    Commented Feb 22, 2012 at 15:41

This may not be exactly what you're looking for, but it may help additionally.

Have you tried OmniGrowl? It uses Growl to notify you of upcoming calendar events. By default you will get a notification 1 hour, 30 minutes, and a set amount of minutes before each normal event. You'll get similar appropriate notifications for all-day events and birthdays, etc. The best is you don't set alarms in iCal, which are annoying for most normal events.

  • I'm really looking for an ever-present calendar. Blotter has come the closest. Still, it is useful to have your suggestion in this thread, for other readers.
    – Ash
    Commented May 19, 2012 at 8:20

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