Dashboard web clips reborn

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

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.

Building the Workflow

Here’s how I re-created the Dashboard:

  1. Prepared my easel with my desired web clips.
  2. Set my easel to “Anyone can view” and copied the link.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.



Nice trick ! What do you keep in the easel? Would it handle displaying items behind an authentication protected page ? You should share that with the Arc team , they love featuring interesting workflows !

My dashboard use case is fairly basic and boring: I’m a meteorology geek, so I just have an array of live weather data (NWS forecast, current conditions feeds from neighborhood stations, radar/satellite imagery). Since Dashboard’s demise, I’ve fallen out of the habit of referring to them from my computer, but maybe that’ll change now.

Just as often, I also used Dashboard’s web clips as a handy way to see if my laptop was having network problems (clips would fail to load if I couldn’t connect). I might start using this for that, now, too!

Good thought on sharing this with Arc’s devs. I’ll look into doing that. You’ve got me curious now to hear what they think of this use case.

No SPC Day 1? :smile:

Haha, nope. My area doesn’t really get severe weather, so live updates from the SPC doesn’t have much bearing on my day-to-day situation awareness. Local current conditions and regional satellite/radar are really all I need at my fingertips most times. If I need more, I’ve got plenty of apps and bookmarks not too much further away. :grin:

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