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Geek Tool: Getting Started

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Geek ToolGeek Tool is one of the cooler freeware utilities Murphy’s seen in recent months. We’re just going to get you started today, but there’s a lot of information packed into this post.

If you like to have lots of information at your fingertips this could be the tool for you. Geek Tool can take the output of Terminal commands and the content of log files and display them on your Desktop. Images too, like a file on your computer or an image linked by url.

The possibilties are nearly endless. You might find you prefer Geek Tool to certain Widgets. And even if you don’t, it’s nice to have a choice. Geek Tool can display information about disk space, wireless networks, IP addresses, songs playing in iTunes, output from webcams – the list goes on and on.

There’s an always-on-top function that brings your Geek Tool output way up front. Even your application windows will slide under the text. Murphy did a screencast about mounting your Widgets to the Desktop instead of in their floating layer – but some people didn’t like this because the Widgets could be covered up with a web browser window or an icon. Those people might find a solution in Geek Tool.

You can group different Geek Tool items together and make the groups active from the menubar. This is a checkbox in the interface. If the menubar doesn’t work for you check out Menu Extra Enabler. Geek Tool installs as a pane in your System Preferences.

In the screencast Murphy creates Desktop items for reporting free disk space, the date, and a tiny calendar. Let’s not judge the content choices, we’re here to learn! In fact, Lifehacker has a calendar that marks off the current date. But again, Murphy wants you to know what the commands you enter mean.

The screencast also introduces awk. We’ll learn more about awk later – but for today it’s a useful way to extract the parts of the date we want to see. If you think awk is cool check out sed.

Once you’ve gotten comfortable with Geek Tool you might want some inspiration for your new capabilities. Nick Young has gathered a bunch of cool examples, take a look.

The screencast only deals with Geek Tool in a shell command sense. We’ll look at other stuff soon. If you’ve got some great ideas for Geek Tool be sure to let us know in the comments.

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5 comments to “Geek Tool: Getting Started”

  1. Nice job, really takes the guess work out of this cool utility

  2. Thanks David. I think Geek Tool has a ton of potential.

  3. Murphy,

    Thanks for the link to my site :) I agree that GeekTool has a ton of potential. It would be neat if the developers included a few sample scripts so that people who aren’t failure with the terminal would have a place to start.

    One thing that a few of the readers over at k2k have been searching for is a way to display CPU temperature with GeekTool. I’m sure there is a way, but we just haven’t found it yet.

    Oh, and if anyone needs any help setting up GeekTool I’ll be glad to lend a hand.

  4. I’m using geek tool for my MacBook Pro & whenever I try to drag the icon onto the desktop it doesn’t show up. What can this be the cause of ?

  5. im trying to find help to make a script to put the surf report on my desktop from surfline http://www.surfline.com/rss/region.cfm?id=2143 but just the peice reporting on 54th/56th st. newport would appreciate it thanks

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