A widget is a small program run by the Mac OS X Dashboard or the Yahoo! Widget Engine. Dashboard is only available on Macintosh computers, while the Yahoo! Widget Engine is available for both Windows and Macintosh platforms. Dashboard and Yahoo! widgets are not compatible with each other, so similar widgets must be created separately for each widget engine.
Some common widgets include weather guides, stock lists, flight trackers, calendars, and search boxes for various websites. Widgets are convenient tools since they are always only one click or keystroke away. By default, pressing the F12 key brings up Dashboard widgets on the Mac, while pressing the F8 key brings up Yahoo! widgets. When widgets are active, they jump to the front of the screen. When Dashboard widgets are not active, they completely disappear, while Yahoo! widgets move to the background.
The idea of widgets started with a program called Konfabulator, which allowed many small programs to run simultaneously on the computer's desktop. Apple introduced a similar program, called Dashboard, with the release of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. Shortly after, in 2005, Yahoo! bought Konfabulator and now markets the program as the Yahoo! Widget Engine. While both widget engines come with several standard widgets, there are thousands more available online.
A couple sample Dashboard widgets include: