Put The News On Your Desktop With GeekTool

A man by the name of Rodolfo Novak has created a shell script that parses RSS feeds and generates excerpts for the last few entries. By itself, not very useful unless you love the terminal (like I do). That’s where GeekTool comes in. GeekTool is a preference pane for embedding images, system logs, and output from Unix commands. That means you can configure GeekTool to embed the output from Novak’s script on your desktop, like so:

Embed Desktop

To get it on your desktop, you’ll need to download GeekTool, and then the shell script from Novak (it’s the one entitled “news.sh”). First, rename the shell script as “news.command”. Now you’ll need to make it executable. Open a terminal and type “sudo chmod +x” and drag the file into the window (or enter the path manually). Hit enter, type your password, and that’s it.

Now install GeekTool, and open it in System Preferences. Click “New Entry” and then choose “Shell” from the drop-down menu:

geektoo pref

Now in the “Command” text box put the path to the script. I’d recommend putting it in your home folder, possibly in Documents. If you do that, the path should be “/Users/YourName/Documents/new.command”. You should see text in the blue box from GeekTool:


Resize it, move it, do whatever with it, and you’re all set. You can change the feed by editing the script, and replacing the default feed with another one (you may even be able to use multiple feeds):


[Via Lifehacker]

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6 Responses to “Put The News On Your Desktop With GeekTool”

  1. Alex

    Damen, your guess is as good as mine.

    Is the date in the % format?

  2. Damen

    Got this working for me, and am picking up a feed from the Deadline webapp, so I can see my current todos from the site.
    Now my problem is that the line that specifies the date is formatted as:


    This comes out looking like a bank account number rather than a date! I’d prefer if it just said:


    I’m trying to parse it a bit better to change this format, but I really don’t know what I’m doing! (trying to work out SED/AWK/REG EX…) Any ideas would be hugely appreciated!

  3. Alex

    You’re welcome. Good luck getting that to work.

  4. Emme

    Thank you for your response… As I suspected, I have a feeling I might need to do a bit of tinkering before I can get my Blogger feeds to work. Thank you again!

  5. Alex

    First, sorry for the delay, Richard had to approve your comment. To the first question, no, I didn’t have to include it. As for the second, I’m not sure if Blogger will work. I just tested it using my own Blogger RSS feed and I couldn’t get it to display anything. The feed for this site worked however, so it is possible to use something other than the default feed.

  6. Emme

    Thank you for your wonderful tutorial. One comment, one question…

    Comment: GeekTool would not find my file until I placed a “sh” in front of the “/Users/YourName/Documents/new.command” path. Did you not have to include this?

    Question: I can only seem to get the default URL to work… Is it possible that feeds such as from Blogger which include images simply won’t work? I don’t need the images to show up but it would be nice if they were stripped out gracefully rather than the whole feed not showing up… Any advice?