Back in the day, many of us made frequent use of OS X’s Dashboard feature and mourned its untimely death with the release of Catalina. Its spiritual successor, Notification Center, has done a decent job of replacing much of its functionality, especially lately with the increasingly abundant and diverse array of widgets.
One feature that has proven largely irreplaceable, however, is Web Clips—the handy Safari feature that could turn pieces of webpages into widgets that refreshed every time you opened Dashboard. Many folks probably never used it, but it was extremely handy if there were live data sources you referenced often (server stats, traffic cams, weather radar, etc.).
As far as I know, no good way has appeared to put web clips in Notification Center (and they’d be very space constrained anyway). But for those familiar with the new Arc browser (discussed over in this thread), I’ve devised a nifty way to replicate web clips in all their glory. It relies on two Arc features: Easels and Little Arc.
Easels are basically browser-based whiteboards that let you add files, text, scribbles…and pieces of webpages. Capture the piece you want, add it to an easel, and click the play button on its bottom edge. Boom. You’ve got a live web clip.
Another unique aspect of easels is that you can make them shareable via a unique URL. Options are revealed via a Share button in the easel’s bottom-right corner. The main use of sharing is for collaborative easel viewing or editing, but it also lets you jump straight to that easel yourself via the URL.
Little Arc is basically a lightweight Arc window that, if Arc is set as your default browser, appears as the landing point of any links you click. It has no tabs, almost no buttons, and shows up on whatever monitor/space you’re in at the moment rather than jumping to an existing browser window elsewhere. Importantly, it can also be closed by simply hitting Escape. Overall, very handy in many ways, as discussed here, but essential for this replacement-Dashboard workflow.
Here’s how I re-created the Dashboard:
- Prepared my easel with my desired web clips.
- Set my easel to “Anyone can view” and copied the link.
- Created a universal keyboard shortcut in BetterTouchTool that opens the easel URL whenever I use the shortcut (in my case, F5 on my desktop keyboard or Command+F4 on my MacBook Pro).
- Set Arc to be my default browser (though you could use an app like Choosy or probably customize the BTT shortcut settings to target Arc specifically if you want to keep a different default browser).
Voila! A full set of live web clips I can summon and dismiss via the keyboard at will.