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Tweak Dashboard widget use to improve performance System
If you notice your Mac is running very slowly, or if you begin to see a marked slowdown in your Internet browsing performance, it is possible a Dashboard widget could be the problem.

My Mac had been running slowly for weeks. Things seemed to pick up a bit if I restarted the computer, but that was virtually the only thing that seemed to make a difference; I could have just one application running, like Safari or Firefox, and it would slowly begin to slow down. I ran a third-party virus scan, and it turned nothing.

One of the first things I would notice when my Mac began running slow is that each and every time the Dashboard would take forever to load. I searched, and learned that you could clear the Dashboard cache and that that may increase the Dashboard's performance. I did that and that seemed to do the trick -- it was like I all of a sudden had a brand new computer that loaded quickly and ran just like it did when I first bought it. Everything ran smoothly, including the Dashboard application.

But it's what came next that is the real tip here. Clearing out the Dashboard cache meant that I had to open the Widgets Manager and re-open some of my widgets. It was working well, so I downloaded and installed several new widgets.

Within a week the performance issue was back, and things were running very, very slow. But this time around I realized that if the Dashboard cache could create the problem to begin with, that maybe it was the problem again. I had noticed in my research that Dashboard runs along with the Dock, meaning it basically runs constantly. And that means that some widgets that require streaming data to update continuously may cause things to run slowly. When I realized that, it finally made sense why my Dashboard took forever to load and why it was doing so again after having cleaned out my cache.

Before the cache wipe, I had a program running all the time that showed a map of the world and where the position of the sun was at any given minute of the day or night. I had not reopened it after I swiped the cache, so it makes sense why things ran quickly at first. When I looked for new widgets, though, I found a weather radar widget from The Weather Channel that continuously showed a radar map of my local regional weather.

When my computer began running slow the second time (and it was very slow), I went to the Dashboard and deactivated the Weather Channel widget. There was an immediate dramatic improvement in system-wide performance, and I didn't have to restart the computer, restart the Dock, disable the Dashboard, or wipe the Dashboard's cache.

The bottom line: if you are having performance issues -- and particularly if you notice your Dashboard taking longer to load, check to see if you have any Dashboard widgets that could be causing the problem. If you figure out which one is the culprit, you don't have to delete it altogether to fix the problem; just disable it and it will still be in the Dashboard Widgets manager so you can open it if and when you need it. In my case, I can always open that Weather Channel radar widget if I know there's a storm on its way, but the rest of the time it won't be eating up RAM and affecting my entire system's performance.

[crarko adds: There are obviously many possible causes of performance degradation, but a rogue widget can certainly be one of them, like any other background process.]
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Tweak Dashboard widget use to improve performance
Authored by: jsumners on Jun 01, '11 08:15:49AM

I turned the dashboard off about a month after the feature was included. I haven't missed it one little bit.

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Tweak Dashboard widget use to improve performance
Authored by: dzurn on Jun 01, '11 09:30:02AM

Ditto. I use GeekTool 3 to replace Dashboard entirely for infrequently-updated information.

And I can tailor GeekTool to update only when I specify, so the weather can be updated only every 1/2 hour or so.

It's possible to set GeekTool to update every second as well, so you'd still have to watch for that, but the update frequency is visible right in the GeekTool panel.

Madness takes its toll.
Please have exact change.

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Tweak Dashboard widget use to improve performance
Authored by: Jwink3101 on Jun 01, '11 08:32:21AM

I do not really use Dashboard much anymore, but i remember that when it first came out and I was looking for new widgets, I always had a rule. I would open Activity Monitor and place it where it could be seen with dashboard. I will then use dashboard and look at the CPU and Ram. When I finished with dashboard, I would only keep a new widget if it did not eat up any CPU. I still do a similar thing for any programs I run all the time (Dropbox for example, it only uses about 0.1% in the background)

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Use iStat Menus
Authored by: xhinter on Jun 02, '11 04:18:01AM

I use iStat Menus to track rogue apps that hog cpu, e.g. the iTunes Store main page, video in Safari.

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Instructions for clearing the Dashboard Cache
Authored by: Brontojoris on Jun 02, '11 05:33:41PM
Go to YourUserFolder/Library/Caches/DashboardClient. You’ll find a cryptic set of folders with no names, just numbers. Delete everything inside the “DashboardClient” folder.

In order to complete the process, you need to restart the Dock (it controls Dashboard). You can do this in two ways:

killall Dock
in the Terminal. This will quit and restart the Dock.


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Tweak Dashboard widget use to improve performance
Authored by: asmeurer on Sep 05, '11 01:31:24PM

Instead of randomly guessing what programs are killing your performance, open Activity Monitor and look at which programs are using the most CPU and the most Real Memory.

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