How to Embedding Task List on Mac Desktop

I was looking for a way to create a todo list that I could add to quickly and see on my Mac desktop. I have manage to cobble together a method that is working for me . It is a work in progress but I thought other people might find it interesting. It does require the following items.

Todo.tx, Dropbox and Geektools are all free. Textexpander is $34.95 and is well worth the price. For the purpose of this article I am going to assume you already have Dropbox and Textexpander installed and set up. Todo.txt is an open source application an is available through Github . Todo.tx lead developer is Gina Trapani . Once you download it there are a couple of things you will need to do. First you need to create a Todo directory (folder) and place it in your Dropbox folder. Then open the todo.cfg and edit lines #4 and #5 replace /Users/gina/Documents/todo with the path where you have just placed the Todo folder. Then you need to make the file executable. You do this in the terminal by entering chmod +x Finally move your the todo.cfg file to your home directory, you can also do this in the terminal by the command mv todo.cfg ~/. The last thing you need to download for the task list to be visible on your desktop is Geektool. After you download and install it will be in your System Preference Pane under Other. Click on it to open it up you will see three icons, Files, Images and Script. For this purpose we will be using the File icon. Click on the File icon and drag it to your desktop and place it where you want your task list to appear. In the Properties heads up display you need to edit the command option, after the word cat <>enter the full path to the todo.txt file. You can also change how the text will appear on your desk top and how often it will refresh. I also recommend checking the display status box if the dot turns green then you’ve done it correctly, if its red check to make sure you entered the path to the todo.txt file correctly. After you make sure its working go ahead and uncheck that box. Now go ahead and close System Preference. Next you need to add the following Apple Script as a snippet to Text Expander

tell application “Finder”

activate application "Terminal"

delay 30
quit application "Terminal"

end tell

The number after delay indicates how long the Terminal will stay open, you can adjust that number to your liking. Also make sure the Content indicator says AppleScript if you leave it PlainText this will not work. Then give the script an abbreviation . Finally you need to create a plain text snippet in Textexpander that reads ./ %fill:name% . To get this just enter ./ then from the pull down menu at the bottom click on Fill- in. Enter an abbreviation for that snippet. Everything is now set up. To test it type the abbreviation you gave to the AppleScript snippet (the terminal should open up), then type the ./todo snippet abbreviation you should see this and then a blank. If you want to add to your task list enter add and then the task. After a minute or so that task will appear on your desk top. The Terminal will close out after the time you set for delay in the Apple Script. Once you completed a task repeat the above process but instead of typing add in the blank type do and the task number that’s completed. There are a whole list of commands you can type in, you can find them by typing -h or help in the blank. Developers have also create various add-ons to ToDo.txt which you can add. You can find them at the ToDo Add on Directory, along with the instruction on how to install them. Add ons will allow you to create projects, hide future events, just to name a few things. The following video shows what the process looks like on your desktop.


If you just want to easily create a task list and don’t need it on your desktop then Geektool is unnecessary , I just like having my task right in front of me. Whether you install Geektool or not you will find your task list in your Todo folder in Dropbox. Which means you can view and edit the task list where ever you have Dropbox installed. Gina Trapani has created a ToDo.txt app specifically for Android, information about it can be found at the Smarterware Web site. I hope this post helps somebody and if you know a way to hide an application instead of quitting it in AppleScript let me know.