43 Folders

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Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

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43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

GeekTool's new Tiger compatibility (and using it to build your own _Batcave_)

Mac Geekery - Geektool and Bash One-Liners

I’m an old-school fan of GeekTool, a smart little PreferencePane that lets you trick out your Mac’s Desktop background with a variety of customizable stats, photos, and status info. Most folks’ favorite use is to display the output of shell scripts and simple CLI commands (e.g. “cat ~/todo.txt” or “tail -n 10 /var/log/crashreporter.log”)

To be honest, I hadn’t used GeekTool in a while, but apparently there were some Tiger compatibility issues that were vexing fans. Now Mac Geekery’s rupa deadwyler points to a branched version (2nd item) that provides fixes for Tiger.

He also writes up a good post on a few of his favorite uses for GeekTool:


There’s a few ways to run this. Right now, I like:

ps -cm -U username | awk '/:/ && $5!~/Dashboard/'

c omits the full path of each process, m orders the processes by memory and -U username shows all processes owned by that user. Plain ps only shows processes run through the terminal, ps -A gives me more than I want to see, ps -U was pretty good, I thought. Replacing the m with r orders the processes by CPU usage, I haven’t really decided which one I like better.

My own favorite feature? Probably the least tech-y thing you can do with it: GeekTool can pull photos from the web on a regular schedule, which makes it easy to see weather, traffic, and web cam output right on your desktop (my Desktop, ca. 2004-11).

With a little bit of creativity, experimentation, and poking around, GeekTool can help you put together your own Information Batcave.

About Merlin

Merlin's picture


Merlin Mann is an independent writer, speaker, and broadcaster. He’s best known for being the guy who created the website you’re reading right now. He lives in San Francisco, does lots of public speaking, and helps make cool things like You Look Nice Today, Back to Work, and Kung Fu Grippe. Also? He’s writing this book, he lives with this face, he suffers from this hair, he answers these questions, and he’s had this life. So far.

Merlin’s favorite thing he’s written in the past few years is an essay entitled, “Cranking.”




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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Merlin used to crank. He’s not cranking any more.

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