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10.4: How to disable (and enable) Dashboard
Authored by: hargreae on Jul 29, '05 01:55:50PM

Your point is accurate regarding Konfabulator, which is well-known to use a lot of system resources, such as RAM and CPU.

However, Dashboard widgets DO, in fact, run while Dashboard itself isn't active. I've seen numerous widgets that use CPU in the background.

Also, Dashboard widgets DO use RAM. The 10.4.2 update greatly reduced the amount of RAM that most used, but it does still exist. Right now, my running widgets are using 60MB of Real memory. And if your Mac maxes out at 640MB of RAM (like mine does), that's almost 10 percent.

Yes, inactive data is copied off to your HD when necessary. It's called swapping and it slows down your computer because a HD is slower than RAM.

All that being said, if you don't want Dashboard widgets eating up CPU and RAM, just don't activate it.

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10.4: How to disable (and enable) Dashboard
Authored by: danieleran on Jul 29, '05 05:20:54PM

Of course Dashboard uses CPU and RAM, but only if you have widgets loaded and are using it.

Swapping pages from RAM to the HD can slow things down, but only if you are actively using more RAM than you have. SO, if you are trying to run every Adobe CS and Quark and Final Cut Pro on 512MB of RAM, you'll be swapping a lot. But if you load up various apps into RAM, and then don't use them, and they are swapped out to disk, no further disk swapping or RAM allocation is going to happen until to return to that app.

Having 50 MB assigned isn't losing 10% of an installed 512 RAM. OS X basically assigns every application 4 GB of space, and only actively deals with memory that needs immediate access quite effeciently.

My PowerBook has 1.25 GB installed, but virtual memory is handling 8.20 GB of allocated RAM at the moment, and there isn't any obvious paging activity going on while I work. Even with 78 processes active, only 2 or 3 are ever actually active, the rest, like Dashboard, are put to sleep. This is not Classic Mac OS!

With Dashboard, if you start widgets that allocate 50 MB, and then go back to Word, you haven't lost 50 MB. If you allocate more RAM than you have, the RAM you aren't using gets paged out and isn't paged back in until you need to use it again.

Dashboard by design, unlike Konfabulator, is engineered to do nothing until it is activated. Even when in use, most of what Dashboard does is handled via the WebKit, which is sharing resources already loaded for Safari.

Really, if you aren't using Dashboard, it isn't doing anything! Yes, if you load up certain widgets that don't work as Apple intended, there may be some processing going on even while Dashboard is suposed to be idle, but that would also mean you are actively using Dashboard, no?

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10.4: How to disable (and enable) Dashboard
Authored by: Pedro Estarque on Jul 30, '05 02:21:51PM

I hate when people say that "this in not classic, OS X can open as many apps as you want". You probably haven't stressed OS X VM to see that it is far from efficient. And please, let's stop with the fallacy that unused processes are swapped to HD. Every single opened process needs RAM, its usage can decrease if not active, but SOME memory is always needed. Just open Activity Monitor and click in "real memory", if you can find a process that uses 0 kb of RAM let me know. There is no magic even in the most in modern memory management system ( not OS X's case )

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10.4: How to disable (and enable) Dashboard
Authored by: danieleran on Jul 30, '05 11:24:17PM

I wasn't making a technical argument about how VM works, but rather noting that in practical use, apps that are not active are not consuming RAM in the manner of Classic Mac OS.

In OS 9, if you have an app open, it got a minimum allocation of RAM that was lost to the system, and potentially took more. You had to close apps to open others or you ran out of memory.

Under OS X, you can have lots of applications open and apps that are not active will not be taking up a significant allocation of available RAM. Certainly, the more RAM you have, the better, and trying to run more than machine can handle will result in poor performance.

None of that changes the fact that, even you are trying to get by on minimal RAM, stopping Dashboard will not make a difference in system performance.

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10.4: How to disable (and enable) Dashboard
Authored by: tceylan on Dec 11, '05 06:47:12PM

This is not correct. Please add 3-5 widgets to your dashboard, and lauch
"top" tool, and take a look at 'resident' memory usage. Typically my
widgets use about 2-5 megs each. I have seen some widgets use
as much as 30-50 megs. Rouge widgets might also continue
consuming CPU even if you don't run the dashboard. (I used to have
a map quest widget that used 30% of CPU after I put dashboard
in the foreground once, and minimized after).

So, disabling dashboard should make a difference in the performance depending
on other applications, and how much ram/cpu you have, and how much
physical ram is left. This difference might be insignificant if you have
a lot of free ram.

2-5 megs per widget might not be a significant amount of
RAM in most cases. However, claiming that dashboard does not
use any resources is not correct. I would probably rephrase this as
"dashboard uses resources as efficiently as possible."

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10.4: How to disable (and enable) Dashboard
Authored by: aranor on Jul 30, '05 12:23:52AM

60MB? What are you looking at? Real memory during normal use of Dashboard widgets for me is on average 3 or 4 MB per widget. That's barely anything. And the virtual memory listing doesn't matter.

And as for CPU, Dashboard does in fact go to sleep when it's not being shown. However, it's an optional thing - widgets are simply told to go to sleep, they're not actually forced to. But very rarely should you find a widget that actually needs to run when it's supposed to be asleep, and so if you are finding widgets that aren't sleeping when they should, that's just a poorly designed widget, and Dashboard can't be blamed for it.

So basically, Dashboard widgets take up barely any memory, and that's generally paged out of RAM when you leave Dashboard idle (that's why leaving Dashboard idle for a while makes it take a few seconds when you bring it back for it to start functioning - it has to page RAM back in for all the widgets you're using. And it uses no CPU. Konfabulator, on the other hand, last time I checked it used CPU constantly even with no widgets open, and it uses a *lot* more RAM than Dashboard does. I bought Konfabulator when it first came out, and a month later I had taken it out of my auto-startup and never looked back. That's because of the resource drain and the fact that I never found any widgets worth using. However, with Dashboard, while I use it infrequently, I do use widgets. Right now, I have 10 widgets running, and I don't mind. Their RAM usage is small, generally paged out to VM, and they use no CPU at all when not active.

I'd also like to point out, to the author of this article, that your comment "In my case, I just don't use it, and dislike having applications running that I don't use or need" just shows that you don't understand Dashboard. If you have no widgets open, you aren't running any extra applications. The Dashboard is built into the Dock - the only extra applications are the DashboardClient processes which manage individual widgets. So if you have no widgets open, you have no DashboardClient processes, and thus no extra applications. I'd be surprised if the terminal command did anything other than simply tell the Dock "don't let me bring forward the Dashboard layer".

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10.4: How to disable (and enable) Dashboard
Authored by: terabolic_radius on Apr 08, '06 08:12:46AM


i don't understand why you say that an unused widget doesn't use RAM. i am running 10.4.5 on a 2001 iBook w/ 384 MB of RAM, and using the Activity Monitor, it shows quite distinctly that I have a widget using 114+ MB (real mem, not VM)! and 20% of CPU, oscillating b/w 1% & 20%! and i have not called up the dashboard in the past hour either. and the other widgets i have active when using the dashboard all use about 10MB and their memory usage is listed under the 'Real' column of the Activity Monitor.

out of 384MB of total physical RAM, the Activity Monitor says i am using 373.90MB and i am only running Safari, the Activity Monitor, the Finder of course, and DockFun (which only consumes 12MB). the rest of the ram is eaten up by Dashboard and the widgets, again according to the Activity Monitor.

but if i am missing sth, so please tell me.

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