Six great uses for the Web Clip widget

If you use Mac OS X Leopard, you’re probably aware of the Web Clip widget. This is a new type of widget that lets you display part of any Web page right on your Dashboard. To use it, simply visit a Web page in Safari, then click the Web Clip button in the toolbar:

Drag the mouse around to highlight the area of the page you want to capture, then click. You can then fine-tune the area with the resize handles, and click the Add button in the top right (or simply press Return) to create the widget. Now, whenever you switch to your Dashboard, you’ll see that area of your chosen Web page right there in the widget.

If and when the Web page is updated, the widget updates too. This makes Web Clip very useful for any Web page content that gets updated frequently, such as news and sports results pages.

Here are a few tips for using Web Clip:

  • You can go back and edit a Web Clip widget. Click the little ‘i’ button in the bottom right corner of the widget to flip it round, then click Edit. The widget flips round again, and you can click and drag with the mouse to reposition the Web page within the widget. You can also resize the widget at the same time. Nice.
  • The widget reloads its “page” every time you enter the Dashboard, but you can also reload it at any time by clicking it and hitting Command-R.
  • If the page you’re clipping is text-heavy, and you want to make your widget as small as possible, first use Command and – (minus) to make the text smaller in Safari, then clip the page. The widget remembers your selected text size. You can then revert to your normal text size in Safari.

So that’s how you create and use a Web Clip widget. What sort of things can you use this feature for? Here are 6 of my favourite uses for Web Clip:

1. Weather forecasts

A classic use for Web Clip. Visit the weather forecasting site of your choice – for example, Weather Underground or – find the forecast for your local city, and turn it into a widget. Of course, the Mac comes with a built-in Weather widget, but by using Web Clip you can get much more specialized info. For example, I’m in Sydney, Australia, and I like to have the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s Sydney Radar Loop on my Dashboard, so I can see where the rain is right now:

Sydney radar loop in a Web Clip widget

(By the way, speaking of the BoM, if you happen to be in Australia then check out TheBom Weather Widget – it’s lovely!)

2. Webcams

Web Clips are great for regularly updated content, and what’s updated more regularly than a webcam? Find a webcam page, clip the image and make it into a widget. Then every time you flip to your Dashboard, you can check out the latest view!

Here are some webcams to get you started:

Here’s a webcam of Dartmoor in England from the BBC site, captured in a Web Clip widget and lovingly decorated with the Vintage Corners theme:

3. Photos of the day

Another great source of material for Web Clips is sites that feature a photo of the day. As with the webcams, it’s easy to select the photo and turn it into a nice widget. One of the clever things about the Web Clip widget is that it resizes itself to fit the content it’s displaying. This means that if the next day’s photo has a different width or height to today’s, the widget changes size to accommodate it. Very nice.

Some of my favourite regularly-updated photo sites include:

  • National Geographic’s Photo of the Day
  • Flickr’s Explore page. You get a new random photo each time you reload the page (or in the case of the Web Clip widget, switch to the Dashboard).
  • The Sydney Powerhouse Museum’s Photo of the Day blog. Just Web Clip the top photo on the page, and the widget automatically updates each day with the latest photo.

Here’s my Web Clip widget showing the Powerhouse Museum’s Photo of the Day:

4. Rotten Tomatoes Upcoming Movies

Rotten Tomatoes has an Upcoming Movies page, with a useful sidebar on the right that gives you an at-a-glance summary of new films and how well they’ve been received by reviewers – perfect widget material! I just clip the Next Week section at the top to keep the widget size down. It’s nice how you can click on a movie to view its reviews in detail in your browser.

5. Comic sites

Daily comic strips are perfect for Web Clipping. Here are some great ones:

  • Simply Web Clip the Flash comic strip at the top of the page. You can then move between days using the arrows in the top left, all within the widget.
  • Calvin and Hobbes. One of my all-time favourites.
  • Ctrl+Alt+Del. It’s geeky but I love it. The strips are rather big though – I wish there was a way to zoom images as well as text in Safari/Web Clip (Apple are you listening?).

Here’s Dilbert on my Dashboard – showing a rather appropriate strip:

6. YouTube’s “videos being watched right now”

YouTube features a Videos being watched right now section at the top of its homepage. Because it’s done using Flash, it makes a great Web Clip widget; when you click a thumbnail, the video plays right in the widget on your Dashboard! To back out of watching a video and return to the list of thumbnails, simply press Command-R to refresh the widget.

Any other suggestions?

What do you use Leopard’s Web Clip feature for? Add a comment below to let me know!

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9 Responses to “Six great uses for the Web Clip widget”

  1. Goobi Says:

    I think the “Recent Posts” box on the sidebar of your favourite blog is a nice way to see updates. Its better than just RSSing it, cause this keeps the original style of the blog so you recognise it instantly.

    Forum UserCP: If you are part of an internet forum, this is a great way to see what posts have been replied to and such.

  2. Viswakarma Says:

    Thanks for the tips!

  3. kenji Says:

    great tips. I forgot all about that web clips function in Leopard. Probably not the best news for widget developers though…

  4. Matt Says:

    @kenji – Yeah I’d kind of written off Web Clips in my head, but when I actually started using them I found they can be pretty useful, in certain situations! Though there’s still a market for specialized widgets I feel…

  5. Anand Rajaram Says:

    Useful tips. I use Web Clips to monitor traffic at for my city.

  6. Scott Says:

    I’m looking for a way to take this useful content from a webclip and have it automatically get saved as an image that I can then sync to my ipod. Would be great to be able to take this content with me each morning with a simple sync of the ipod.
    Any thoughts?

  7. Ryan Says:

    I made a web clip widget for Pandora Radio so I can access it any time from my Dashboard

  8. Matt Says:

    @Scott – That would be nice, wouldn’t it. You *might* be able to do something with a combo of AppleScript, Safari, and Grab??

    @Ryan – great idea! 🙂

  9. Michael DeNigris Says:

    I copied a photo from a website and inadvertantly created a webclip of it.
    Now everytime I click on my dashboard icon to open the calendar this photo opens with it. How do I get rid of this webclip??