How to add and use desktop widgets in macOS Sonoma

Apple’s macOS Sonoma has brought a bunch of interesting new features for Mac users, and desktop widgets are among the most useful. As the name implies, you can now drag and drop widgets right onto your desktop, giving you quick access to to-do lists, local weather forecasts, smart home controls, and much more. Here, we’ll show you how to use them.

The best part of macOS Sonoma widgets is their interactivity. Now, there’s no need to open a widget in order to use its associated app. Instead, you can just tick off your reminders or play music right from your desktop, just by interacting with your widgets. It’s a great time-saver and works with a range of widgets, including those made by Apple and by third-party developers.

Widgets are now housed in the new widget gallery, which you can access by right-clicking your desktop and choosing Edit Widgets. You also don’t need to have the widget installed on your Mac for it to run, as it will be available if it’s on your iPhone (provided it’s running iOS 17 or later). Just make sure that both devices are using the same Apple ID and Wi-Fi network, and that the iPhone is near your Mac.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to place widgets on your desktop, how to interact with them, and how to change their settings in just a few clicks. Once you’ve mastered this feature, you’ll have a great new way to use macOS Sonoma to get things done.

Add widgets to the desktop

Step 1: To add a widget to your desktop, you first need to open the widget gallery by right-clicking your desktop and selecting Edit Widgets. Or open the Notification Center and choose Edit Widgets at the bottom of the window.


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Step 2: This hides your open windows and brings up the widget gallery, which houses all your available widgets.

Step 3: To add a widget, pick an app name in the left-hand sidebar and drag a widget onto your desktop.

Step 4: You can place your first widget wherever you like. For subsequent widgets, you’ll see an alignment box appear as you move the second widget close to the first one. This helps you snap your widgets neatly together.

Dragging a widget onto the desktop in macOS Sonoma. An alignment grid is visible.

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Step 5: If there are any files or folders on a spot that you want to drag a widget onto, they will wrap around your widget as you place it on your desktop.

Step 6: In addition to the desktop, you can also move widgets from the widget gallery into the Notification Center.

Step 7: Once you’ve finished dragging widgets onto your desktop, choose the Done button in the widget gallery, or simply click your desktop or Dock.

Interact with your widgets

Step 1: Some widgets can be interacted with on your desktop without having to open the app they belong to.

Step 2: For example, place a widget from the Podcasts app onto your desktop. You’ll note that you can play and pause podcasts right from the widget, without having to open the Podcasts app to access these controls. Or try adding a Reminders widget — and it’ll let you tick off your tasks from your desktop.

An interactive widget on the desktop in macOS Sonoma.

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Step 3: If you hit an area of the widget that is not interactive — such as its background, for example — the app itself will launch.

Step 4: If you select a noninteractive area of a widget whose app is installed on your iPhone but not on your Mac, you will see the message “Open [app name] on your iPhone to continue.”

Edit widget settings

Step 1: Once a widget is in place on your desktop, there are various ways you can tweak it to your needs.

Step 2: To resize a widget, right click it and choose a size from the context menu that appears.

The right-click menu on a desktop widget in macOS Sonoma, letting a user edit the widget's settings.

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Step 3: Similarly, to remove a widget, you just need to right-click it and select Remove Widget in the menu. Alternatively, you can open the widget gallery and click the – button in the widget’s top-left corner.

Step 4: Some widgets have settings that can be edited (although you can’t do this for every widget). For widgets that can be tweaked, right-click the widget, then select “Edit [app name].” This will bring up a settings window. For example, in the Weather app’s widget, you can change the location used for weather results.

Step 5: If you open the System Settings app and pick Desktop & Dock in the sidebar, you’ll see some more options under the Widgets heading. For example, you can change whether widgets fade out when you are using another app. Or you cab set widgets to disappear until you hide other windows and show your desktop. You can also disable iPhone widgets when you’re using your Mac.

The System Settings app in macOS Sonoma, with widget settings visible.

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Interactive widgets are a handy addition to macOS Sonoma and should save you plenty of time and clicks in the long run. Place a couple of your favorite widgets on your desktop and you’ll find it much easier to get things done than it has been in the past.

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How to buy and configure a new iMac without wasting money

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The new iMac has arrived, complete with the updated M3 chip on board. Considering Apple now has just a single size of iMac, that should make buying one straightforward.

But as with all tech purchases, the devil’s in the details. So, after having tested the latest iMacs, we’re here to recommend how to determine which to buy and how to configure it.

Two primary options

Three iMac listings from Apple's website.
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When you look at Apple’s website, it shows three different iMacs to choose from, but really, there’s only two. There’s the base configuration and the more advanced one. Both come with the M3 chip, importantly, which has the eight-core CPU and 8-core GPU. They use the same screen as well. But from there, some subtle differences separate these models, which means you’ll want to choose carefully.

The biggest limitation of the M3 base model is ports. It comes with two less USB-C ports than the $1,599 model. Being restricted to just two Thunderbolt ports could be a nuisance, requiring the use of a dock. Both configurations can only connect to a single external display, though. You’ll have to pay an extra $30 for the gigabit Ethernet jack, which is built into the power brick. This comes standard in the $1,599 model, but unless you plan to use a hardwired connection, it’s probably not needed.

There’s a difference in bundled accessories too. While both configurations come with the unfortunate Magic Mouse, the cheaper configuration doesn’t come with the Touch ID keyboard. You have to pay an extra $50 to get some biometric security, which is really lame. The Touch ID keyboard is definitely worth getting, as is the Magic Trackpad. Those two accessories will cost you an extra $100, but unless you already have preferred third-party accessories, they’re absolutely worth it.

The iMac screen on a desk.
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The other big difference between the two is in the GPU. The cheaper configuration doesn’t allow you to add the two extra GPU cores — so you’re stuck at just eight. Two extra GPU cores will give you a decent boost in graphics and make up the bulk of the $200 price difference between the two configurations. I haven’t tested the eight-core model myself yet, but Apple’s GPU cores tend to scale down fairly evenly. It might not be quite a 20% difference in actual performance, but it’ll be fairly noticeable. Ultimately, this decision is fairly simple: if you don’t intend to ever play games, edit video, or do 3D modeling, you may not see much in terms of gains.

Lastly, if you opt for the base configuration, you’ll have fewer color options to choose from. Blue, Green, Pink, and Silver are the main options, while the $1,599 model lets you choose from Yellow, Orange, and Purple. Before you choose a color, remember that the colors are two-tone. The front is a more saturated pastel color, while the aluminum base and back are a bolder, more vibrant color. So, make sure you like both shades of the color before you buy. The Silver color is certainly the most professional option, which is the safest best.

Storage and memory

The bottom chin of the blue iMac.
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The base configuration also limits you in terms of storage. You also can’t upgrade to 2TB of SSD storage, and are instead restricted to 1TB as the max. And remember — none of these specs can be upgraded after the fact, except by using external storage. Since Apple’s prices on extra storage are outrageous ($400 for a terabyte!), make sure to get what you need since there’s no way to upgrade in the future.

Memory is similar. Options for RAM in the iMac only include 8GB, 16GB, and 24GB — and 8GB should really only be reserved for people with the most basic computing needs. If you hope to use the iMac for anything more extensive, I’d recommend at least 16GB of RAM. If you’re choosing between the $200 RAM upgrade or the $200 storage upgrade, remember that storage can be expanded externally, while memory can’t.

What about the M1 iMac?

Apple iMac 24 inch placed on a desk in a sunny context.
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Apple doesn’t want you to think about the M1 iMac anymore. It isn’t sold, and the M3 is obviously the cream of the crop. But for a lot of people, the M1 iMac is still going to be a worthwhile purchase if you can find it for the right price. The key, though, is the price. Doing a quick look around, I didn’t see the M1 iMac being sold for more than $150 off the original price, which just happens to be the same price as the M3 iMac. Some other retailers are even still selling the M1 model for the full retail price.

Unless you have a super-tight budget, I think most people should just splurge on the M3 iMac at that point. But if we start to see a refurbished M1 iMac drop down below $1,000, for example, that’s where I perk up.

Because if performance isn’t a huge deal for you — if you just want a basic Mac and love the form factor of the all-in-one — the upgrade to the M3 won’t mean much to your day-to-day usage. But remember one thing: While comparing prices, make sure you’re comparing configurations on an apples-to-apples basis. A lot of times, older models are sold with higher-end specs, such as additional memory or storage.

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The MacBook Pro M3 doesn’t have a memory problem — it has a pricing problem

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Apple just upset everyone, claiming that the 8GB of Unified Memory available in the base MacBook Pro M3 is “probably analogous to 16GB on other systems.”

The MacBook Pro M3 has already come under fire for only including 8GB of Unified Memory in its base configuration, which runs $1,600. MacWorld recently ran a story criticizing the 8GB of memory in the MacBook Pro M3, saying, “If 8GB will be a bottleneck for many today, imagine the performance of that non-upgradeable laptop in a few years’ time.”

Apple’s response is that 8GB on a MacBook Pro M3 is probably closer to 16GB on a Windows laptop. In an interview with Lin YilYi, Apple’s Bob Borchers addressed the 8GB of memory in the MacBook Pro M3:

“Comparing our memory to other systems’ memory actually isn’t equivalent, because of the fact that we have such an efficient use of memory, and we use memory compression, and we have a unified memory architecture. Actually, 8GB on an M3 MacBook Pro is probably analogous to 16GB on other systems. We just happen to be able to use it much more efficiently … I think this is a place where people need to see beyond the specs and actually look at the capabilities.”

Borchers has a point. Due to the fact that the MacBook Pro M3 uses a system-on-a-chip (SoC), it’s able to access memory much more efficiently than a standard Windows laptop. Capacity and speed are two sides of the same coin; if you have faster speeds, you don’t need as much capacity, and vice versa.

Someone removing the back cover on a MacBook Pro.
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In addition, Apple includes a 512GB SSD with the base MacBook Pro M3, which uses two NAND chips. The previous version showed much slower SSD speeds with only a single NAND chip, and due to swap memory being critical in memory-limited situations, the 256GB SSD combined with the 8GB of memory vastly reduced performance. MaxTech’s early testing on the MacBook Pro M2 showed how big of a problem the 8GB of memory combined with the 256GB, single NAND SSD really was.

In real use, that shouldn’t be as big of a problem on the MacBook Pro M3. Unified Memory allows Apple to get away with lower capacity compared to Windows laptops, and the dual-NAND configuration of the SSD keeps things from being too slow when swap memory comes into play. The problem isn’t 8GB of memory, or even that it comes on a $1,600 laptop in 2023. It’s that adding more memory costs so damn much.

You’ll spend an extra $200 for 16GB of memory and an extra $400 for 24GB. Even ignoring the cost of those memory modules — I’ll let you know it’s far less than what Apple’s charging — you can see how big the upcharge really is just from configuration options. In Apple’s mind, each 8GB module of Unified Memory is worth $200. That’s insane.

The Dell XPS 13 Plus on a table outside.
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If you look at a laptop like the Dell XPS 13 Plus, which comes with 16GB of memory for $1,500, you can upgrade it to 32GB for an extra $150. There’s no issue with Apple selling the MacBook Pro M3 with 8GB of memory, even for $1,600. But it shouldn’t cost an extra $200 just to get to 16GB for users who truly do need that extra capacity.

This really isn’t anything new for MacBooks, though, and it doesn’t just apply to memory. If you look at storage options, you’ll need to spend an extra $200 to upgrade the 512GB SSD to a 1TB SSD, and an extra $600 to upgrade the 512GB SSD to a 2TB SSD. Once again, each 512GB chunk of storage is worth $200 in Apple’s mind, despite the fact that the cost for these components isn’t anywhere remotely near that price.

It could go either way — Apple should have the base MacBook Pro M3 with 8GB of Unified Memory sell for a lower price, or it should make the cost of upgrading to 16GB of RAM much cheaper. It doesn’t really matter if you need that memory or not, either. The upgraded model is the one most people should buy, even if they only occasionally go over capacity.

At the very least, that pricing scenario would be a minor annoyance, with Apple nickel and diming people to get the RAM they need (definitely not uncharacteristic of Apple). As it stands now, with the high base price and huge cost of upgrades, it is hard to say the MacBook Pro M3 truly starts at $1,600 when a critical upgrade is locked behind a $200 paywall.

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