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GeekTool is an application for OS X 10.6 or later. It lets you display various kinds of information on your desktop via 3 default plug-ins:
  • File plugin to monitor OS X activity with /var/log/system.log, or any file that you want to follow.
  • Shell mode to launch custom scripts or commands like "df" to check space left on filesystems or "uptime" to monitor load on your machine.
  • Image mode helps you monitor bandwith usage, CPU load, memory availability on your server with tools like MRTG or RRD.

What's New

Version 3.1.1:

  • New button to check for updates in Preferences
  • The script edition window is easier to use and let the user go back and forth between application
  • You can use arrow keys to move a geeklet
  • Long scripts could not be imported because the confirmation button was out of screen
  • Geeklets will no more...


OS X 10.6 or later

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GeekTool User Discussion

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Macfleckno Member IconReview+3

Clumsy to use; no way to uninstall the program.

Reply1 reply
Version 3.1.1

No way to uninstall? Just throw away the app!

Wolpertinger Member IconReview+5

I found Geektool to be a mixed bag. The features it provides are very helpful, but the abysmal user interface and the nonexistent documentation make the learning curve very steep. E.g. I spent a whole day experimenting and googling to figure out how to call a shell script file from a geeklet (you have to use "source ~/.bash_profile" on the second line after the shebang, or the output of commands won't be displayed).
Also, while Geektool runs without problems on my 10.7.5 machines, it behaves completely haphazard on my 10.8.5 server (Geeklets not being displayed at all, clicking the "close" button of a geeklet not having any effect, etc. etc.). On most of these cases, it helps to kill GeektoolHelper in Activity Monitor.

Do not expect to get any help from the forum on the developer's website, as it is overrun with spam.

Reply1 reply
Version 3.1.1

> (you have to use "source ~/.bash_profile" on the second line after the shebang, or the output of commands won't be displayed)

I'm pretty sure that that's because your particular commands presuppose, implicitly, a certain $PATH. If you set the PATH explicitly in your shell scripts, or use absolute paths like "/usr/bin/perl", then there is no need for the sourcing of anything.

It's not GeekTool's fault that there's no way to automatically source your PATH or your aliases that you set in your .bash_profile.

El-Duderino Member IconComment+41

Absolutely bizarre that there is no GUI means of deleting a single geeklet within a group; that you have to go through the faff of not just deleting a plist entry but also quitting not only the application but also the helper application to stop the one you want to get rid of persisting anyway and yes am quite aware the workaround would be to put every single .glet into a separate group but this is rather beside the point and also not much use if you've already got all your geeklets in one. This seeming interface idiocy spoils exploration of the app somewhat...

Quite content to stand corrected if there is some really obvious "Delete" button that I'm just not seeing somehow but regardless Geektool should just let you delete a .glet on highlighting it and pressing the delete key (it's not as if backspace in that context is assigned to anything else!) But perhaps this would all be too... ungeekily straightforward?

Reply1 reply
Version 3.1.1


Seems the delete symbol is on the top-right corner of the geeklets. Not blindingly prominent (my usage of GeekTool has been to make tiny displays, you see) but okay.

Well isn't this embarrassing.

Also seems there is still no delete for (what later are obviously) erroneous comments on MacUpdate such as my one above (sigh).

Jgj Member IconReview+18

Fantastic app. It's called GeekTool for a reason; you have to already have some geekery ability to make it do much of interest. If you don't know what a shell script is, or how to write one, or are totally unfamiliar with things that live in /usr/bin, you won't be able to do much besides put images on your desktop. And most other things don't make a lot of sense then. But if you are a Geek, it couldn't really much get easier to use.

It could use improvement in certain areas. For instance, it often reshuffles the order of which geeklets get loaded first. This can ruin a carefully-crafted desktop. If you try to fix this, you can, but you run into the fact that GeekTool keeps track of its geeklets by means of hexadecimal UIDs instead of the names that you already gave your geeklets when you created them. So to shuffle their order in the plist, you have to write down which UID goes with which geeklet. There should be a box or something in the app's preferences that allow you to change the load order of geeklets, and shows you a list of them by name (not UIDs).

It would probably work smoother if there was something in the preferences that allowed the user to set a custom $PATH.

One gripe: 3.1.1 came out, and it destroyed the look of Monaco at 9pt and 10pt. They are now antialiased, where they never were before. Monaco looks *terrible* antialiased at those sizes, and having it antialiased makes things displayed look much, much less geeky :) Indeed, I'd love to see it get the ability to optionally disable antialiasing for *any* font (like in Terminal).

Reply0 replies
Version 3.1.1
Jisss8 Member IconReview+3

Very nice app, and it's indeed not only for geeks. I don't understand a thing about the commands, but I found the commands I needed just by googling them.

For someone who isn't a geek, it's too difficult to use without some research, but there are a lot of easy tutorials which you can follow. You don't even have to know what the commands mean, you just need to know what you want. So google it, follow the steps in the tutorials, copy and past and you're done.

Reply0 replies
Version 3.0
Noivad Member IconReview+131

I tried this app a few years back and found it difficult to figure out how to use. I found the need for something like this again, and tried it again. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize I needed a different version for Lion so setting it up wasn’t working (the site wasn’t incredibly clear about that months back: It is the standalone app you need for Lion BTW. The System Prefs Pane does not work). So finally, I tried it yet again, saw the warning, and got it running fairly quickly.
I’ve read the first page of reviews: you don’t _have_ to be a geek to use this app, but it helps. If you know a few Unix shell commands and are willing to learn, you will be well rewarded. Since GeekTool free and anything you leaner can be used in the CLI, you won’t be wasting money or time.
My favorite feature is the ability to make things float over everything else. (I wish it would optionally bring things to the front automatically for a second when updated.)
I already knew all the essential shell commands, so once I got a working version, it was easy to adapt to. (Note: any command that self-updates in place such as “top” will cause problems since GT takes care of refreshing.)
I found just loading the security, system and kernel logs works well, and is light on the processor load (since displaying logs is essentially a tail command: 0.1%CPU {2.53GHz/DC} & ~30MB RAM). Also, I loaded uptime, calendar, and a few other slow refresh commands. It you find that geek tool is taking up too many resources, lower the refresh times.

If you read the sites about configuration, there are a ton of helpful tips, and prebuilt sets one can download. Try DuckDuckGo.com and look for “GeekTool” with “tips” or “configuration” if the developer’s site isn’t enough. (I noticed documentation is getting better on the dev site last time I checked about a month ago.)

BOTTOM LINE: If you want to know what is going on in your system without buying various monitoring programs, want complete configuration, and are willing to read a bit, GeekTool is well worth your time.

Reply0 replies
Version 3.0
Xente Member IconReview+30

GeekTool is really cool and it's not only for geeks. Just google geeklets and you'll find a bunch of them. Only complaint is that it's pretty bad on memory. I closed it because it was taking 200 mb of my ram. I'm just glad I'm gonna upgrade to 8 gb of ram--I'm just waiting for it to come in the mail.

Reply0 replies
Version 3.0
waggonerwheel Member IconReview+0

Like the user below me, I downloaded it from MAS and I found it to be difficult to use without doing some research. There are tutorials on the web that helped me learn this tool.

Reply0 replies
Version 3.0
Mikebenda Member IconReview+314

Downloaded it from the App store and although I'm not a geek, I found a lot of materials online where I learned the basics on how to use this app.

It would be nice if the developers would provide a basic tutorial and perhaps step-by-step instructions for beginners. It would also be great if finished desktops could be "packaged" into template files that one could install.

I stopped using it after a day because I found that the time I had displayed on my desktop was always incorrect. The system time was correct and displayed correctly in the menu bar but not with this app. I searched but couldn't find a solution.

Reply0 replies
Version 3.0
Macmend.com Member IconReview+51

wouldn't be without it, an amazing little tool and in case you were wondering the Lion version (experimental) is here


Reply0 replies
Version 3.0
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Version 3.1.1
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Hal Itosis
Version 3.1.1
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Version 3.0
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Version 3.0
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Version 3.0
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Version 3.0
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Current Version (3.x)


Downloads 77,282
Version Downloads 22,070
License Free
Date 08 Jul 2013
Platform Intel 64 / OS X / Intel 32
Price Free
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