My Geektool setup, to-do list on the bottom.There’s no shortage of task management and to-do list apps available for Macs, but only Geektool can embed a totally-customizable (and dare I say, beautiful) list of tasks right on your desktop.

You can use Geektool to add just about anything on your desktop, and no blog post could begin to describe all of its features.  It can be a daunting program for those of us who haven’t dabbled in scripts before, but there isn’t too much scary coding involved for this simple setup.

First, clear your desktop of any clutter, and find a kickass wallpaper (I recommend NASA).  Next, open up TextEdit, type out a sample T0-Do list, and format it as plain text in the format menu.  Save the file anywhere as “todo.txt”, and drag it onto your dock to create a shortcut.

Once you’re all set up, install the latest version of Geektool here.  It will show up as an option in your system preferences.  Launch the app, and drag a “Shell” geeklet onto the desktop.   A dialog box and a draggable rounded rectangle will appear on your desktop.  Drag the geeklet wherever you want and, type “cat” followed by a space into the command line of the dialog box.  Finally, drag your todo.txt file from finder into the command line.  If you keep it in your documents folder, the line will read something like this: “cat /Users/YOURNAME/documents/todo.txt.”  All that’s left is to set a refresh rate and fine tune your font.

Your gorgeous list will now update automatically whenever you edit todo.txt.  The result is far more elegant than OS X’s “Stickies” program, and makes more sense than setting calendar appointments for things like “proofread paper.”  This tutorial barely scratches the surface of what Geektool can do, so if you want to tinker further, check out this gallery for some inspiration.