Mac Basics #35: Exploring the Dashboard Widgets Menu with VoiceOver

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

In this edition of his series of podcasts intended to help new users of VoiceOver on the Mac, David Woodbridge shows us how to explore the Dashboard Widgets menu when using VoiceOver.

Dashboard includes widgets for some of your Mac applications, such as Contacts and Calendar, which allow you to access your contacts and view your events, respectively, without having to switch over to the full application. You can add more widgets to Dashboard and even create your own widgets.

More information on Dashboard Widgets can be found on Apple's website.

Podcast File: 



#1 Thank you!

Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you haha!

I'm a self taught Mac user and have had a Mac for the last four years and I've never figured out the dashboard widget haha! Thank you thank you thank you!

#2 Uh oh

I think I must have seriously messed up my Dashboard widget or something. I had somehow changed the key to launch it to F13 but couldn't remember how I did it. I've recently gotten Mountain Lion and have done a lot of playing around. Anyway, I wanted to put the Dashboard back to F12 to match you but since I couldn't remember how, I ended up restoring defaults in shortcut keys or something to get it back to F12.

the problem is, F12 on my computer just always says eject. So I created a VO commander to open the Dashboard and that works but doing VO F12 twice doesn't bring up any kind of Dashboard menu. I'm so lost. Did I mess something up or is Mountain Lion different from what you were running in the podcast? This is weird because before I had changed it to F13, F12 brought up the Dashboard and after restoring defaults, it doesn't.

Od? And help? Haha.

PS - I have a wired Apple keyboard with no function key. I have the checkbox unchecked so do not treat function keys as function keys. I tried checking the box and nothing changed.

#3 User error haha

Never mind, got it. I had somehow turned F2 into F12 in my brain. Good to go now, thanks again!

#4 Dashboard


Just remember, its hardware F12 to bring up Dashboard and Control+Option+F2 twice to bring up a list of the Dashboard widgets that you have currently running. At the bottom of this list you can also find the widget bar menu to activate other widgets.

You can always run Dashboard from the Applications folder as well if you like.

And yes, it was one of those things on the Mac that used to irritate me that I couldn't use them.


#5 Got it figured out, yay!

Hi David,

I got it all figured out today. I needed to go and check the functions box in keyboard preferences after a fellow VO user pointed out that I do indeed have a functions key, located in a different spot. A week ago I switched from a Macbook to a Mac Mini and am still learning the lay of the land with Mountain Lion and the full Apple keyboard. After getting all the settings lined up correctly, I was able to take what I learned in your podcast and figure it out. So thank you so much! This was literally the last thing about the Mac OS that I had not been able to figure out.

I find your podcasts so incredibly helpful; thank you for all your hard work!

#6 Problem with widgets window

Hello, I can not close widgets window when using command for closing, voice over just reading somethink about display when press ctrl, option, cmd, f2. What is the problem?

#7 Control+Option+Command+Escape to close window

This command closes the window that the VoiceOver cursor is in, so works now with the dashboard window.

#8 So excited

I to was so excited to see this podcast, but like the previous comment I to found I couldn't perform any successful results. For me I could press the V-O F2 key twice to get to the Dashboard menu, also if you have a full size keyboard the num-pad slash key works for this. The problem I am having is that I don't see the Widget option in the menus, I do have a Widget bar menu pull down menu, but no option for just the widgets. also pressing the V-O+ Command key combination gives me on screen location.. I am using a late 2012 Mac Mini, with Mountain Lion, I have been using a Mac for only 6 weeks, and have tried several keyboards. Also with the wireless keyboard the option to switch the FN key is not available. Any help would be appreciated. PS: playing around with the Widgets I now have 12 widgets active.very cluttered... (sad)

#9 Same problem with Dashboard here

I recently did a clean install of moutain lion, and am still having the same problems you are with the Dashboard. I have my FN keys set to software so I can control VO without having to press FN. When I try to close a widget by pressing VO command it just tells me where on the screen I am. Have tried a ton of different combinations but nothing seems to work to close a widget. I wouldn't believe that it actually works but have listened to David's podcast twice to make sure I am getting everything right, can't figure out what the problem is. I also do not have a widgets option when I get into the widgets menu, so there is no way that I can tell to add any new widgets outside of the ones that are already there. Would love to hear if anyone else is having this problem, as I would actually like to start using the Dashboard.

#10 As previously commented, correct command to close window

Hi all,

As I said in an earlier comment, the correct command in Mountain Lion to close a Dashboard widget is VO+Command+Escape: you will then get a prompt "Escape to cancel, Enter to close".

I might need to remove this demo as its wrong in respect to ML, and redo it at some stage.


#11 Thanks that works

Hey David,

Not sure how I missed that you had already posted the Mountain correct command to close widgets, and wanted to thank you for reposting it as you are correct that command works perfectly. The only problem I am having now is where to find new widgets, as I have the widget bar menu which gets me to the list of the 16 preinstalled widgets, but there is no widget option to choose once you get there. I am assuming that how to add widgets in Mt. Lion has also been changed so I will do a web search to see if I can figure it out, as I am guessing all of the info I have been reading about widgets is probably pre Mt. Lion info. Thanks again