Apple’s Dashboard is getting quietly removed from the company’s upcoming macOS Catalina update, as first noted by Appleosophy and later reported by MacRumors. The Dashboard first launched 14 years ago with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger in 2005 and saw its final update in 2011 with the launch of OS X 10.7 Lion.
The app first introduced the concept of widgets to Apple’s desktop operating system and became a hallmark of OS X design for more than a decade. In particular, Dashboard became well known for its desktop Sticky Note feature and its overall skeuomorphic approach best emphasized by the clock, stocks, and calculator widgets, a design philosophy that formed the foundation of the first version of iOS that launched a few years after OS X Tiger. It wasn’t until iOS 7 in 2013 that Apple would abandon that aesthetic for a flatter, more modern one that eventual carried back over to its desktop look and feel.
Since 2011, Dashboard has been accessible in various forms, but it’s had none of its widget design or UI updated, making it a bit of an anachronism existing behind the scenes on macOS. With OS X 10.10 Yosemite, Apple disabled the application by default, but still allowed users to access it either as a hotkey overlay or its own separate space within Mission Control.
Now, in macOS Catalina, it appears Dashboard is going away for good. Appleosophy tried to disable and enable the Dashboard via Terminal only for the system to show it as missing even after a forced reboot. The Launchpad overlay also shows the Dashboard app icon as a question mark, the same as with the broken up and effectively killed off iTunes.
That said, it’s unlikely Mac users have been making use of Dashboard in meaningful numbers. Apple has made many of the same widgets available as part of the macOS Notification Center for years, accessible through the icon in the upper righthand corner of the screen, as well as through a hotkey or trackpad gesture on Apple laptops. There’s also an App Store section for Notification Center widgets in the event you want a custom one for a particular app like AirMail, Fantastical, or Todoist.
But as far as software history goes, the Dashboard was a memorable feature that set OS X apart during the truly ascendant and transformative years of post-iPod Apple. It will be missed, if only as a reminder of how far desktop software design has come in the last 15 years.