iMac Weather Menu Bar App Thingie

I am now using an iMac for a lot more than I ever used a Mac of any kind before, and in so doing I’m discovering some interesting software. I will therefore be telling you about it, because it is much more interesting than telling you about what I had for lunch or dinner. (Having said that, Dinner was actually pretty good; it was something I made up for Huxley but he went out on a date and I ended up eating it. But I digress.)

My Linux box, running Gnome, has a nice little built in weather app on the top bar. It shows the temperature and a sun/cloud icon, and if I click on it I get a weather forecast and a radar map. My iMac did not seem to have that so I went looking for something that would fill the bill and discovered WeathrClip, a “menu bar” application designed by Gavin Wiggins.

Here is what the app looks like when it is merely an icon on the menu bar:

WeathrClip at rest

And here is what the app looks like when you click on it:

WeathrClip at attention.

You can specify a location and also how often there should be an update.

I would like to see one improvement in this app, though I suppose it is possible that this is already built in and since I’m an iDiot when it comes to Macs I just don’t know how to do it. I regularly need to know the weather at two locations. I’d like to be able to switch to the other location now and then. I suppose I could try running the app more than once and see if I can make it work that way ….

Nope, that didn’t work. Anyway, even without this feature, WeathrClip is a very nice little app.

This isn’t the only weather menu bar app, but as far as I know it is the only one that gets its data from Weather Underground. Also, when the app is open, as is generally the case with such apps, there is a button you can press to open a weather web site. The site this app opens is the Weather Underground, and it opens it to the page pertaining to the location you’ve set for it.

Comments

  1. #1 WeathrClip
    August 13, 2012

    Thank you for writing an article about WeathrClip. You will be happy to know that an update to the app is in the works to allow the user to keep a list of favorite locations. In the mean time, when you search for locations in the Preferences window previous searches are recorded. To access these previous queries just click on the drop down arrow in the search box.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    August 13, 2012

    Thanks for the info!

  3. #3 Comrade Carter
    August 13, 2012

    Just click on the bottom near the down arrow and, choose the preferences and enter a second or third place.

  4. #4 Comrade Carter
    August 13, 2012

    Then you can choose which place is shown on-screen by clicking it.

  5. #5 Ian Kemmish
    August 15, 2012

    Unless it’s not there in more modern versions of Mac OS, why not just use Dashboard widgets for weather? You can have as many locations as you want, all visible at once, and it’s a single keypress to view, and one more to dismiss.

  6. #6 Greg Laden
    August 15, 2012

    Ian, the dashboard widget for weather is a whole different thing. It is not as good, and it is not as convenient. Weathrclip is on my menubar: I can see the temp and conditions just by looking.

    Having said that dashboard widgets are useful when they work! If I were to nudge the OS by these widgets as a body of tools, though, I’d not want to go near OS X. I assume they are not considered important.

  7. #7 Eric Lund
    August 15, 2012

    Ian: Dashboard widgets seem to be an early version of iPhone/iPad apps, but they have apparently been lagging in development compared to the latter. (Then again, I checked this on a machine running Snow Leopard.) The default weather widget (there may be better ones out there, but I haven’t looked) gives only basic information: current temperature, predicted high and low for today and the next five days, and icons for the forecasted weather type (for my location, three of those are thunderstorms, one rain, and two partly cloudy). The menu bar app Greg shows includes much more detail.

    As for other Dashboard widgets: I currently show Calculator, BART, Flight Tracker, and World Clock in addition to Weather. The Calculator is the most useful of these; sometimes all I need is a basic four-function calculator, which this tool does well. BART is occasionally useful for when I am planning visits to the Bay Area (“when do I have to leave X in order to get to Y at time T?”). Flight Tracker is incredibly primitive (it makes the Weather widget look polished) and has interface issues (if I type three letters into one of the city fields the default choice should be the airport with that code, which is not true for, e.g., Seattle). World Clock, unlike the iPhone app of the same name, limits you to one time zone at a time, and it doesn’t have an obvious way to show UTC (a.k.a. GMT), which is an important time zone in my line of work.

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    August 15, 2012

    Have you used flight tracker though? I had a flight coming in yesterday, which was about 3 hours taking off from Newark. Flight tracker seemed to not understand the situation at all. The UA web site tracked the plane perfectly, and when it finally crossed the western shore of Lake Michigan, I got in the car and headed to the airport and arrived at the same time the plane pulled in. But flight tracker never knew it was coming in late. It just knew its original schedule.

    I downloaded and installed a Google Analytics widget. It did not work. I went to the web site for the widget and it said “This widget does not work any more. Click here to download.” That’s annoying!

    There is no world clock that I know of, just a clock and you can put multiple clocks on your dashboard. I’d like to see a multi-time digital world clock with a map.

    Maybe I should just start creating widgets.