The World Is Your…Desktop

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What’s on your desktop? Pictures of the kids? Your dream car? Maybe one of the stock images Apple provides with every new system?

The way someone organizes and presents their desktop can say a lot about a person – whether they are the cluttered, messy type, or someone who likes cleanliness and order, whether they are fanciful or serious. But one utility, EarthDesk, from Xeric Design, takes you beyond what’s right in front of your face, and presents you with the world, on your desktop.

The program, which installs as a preference pane in your System Preferences, displays the Earth in full, and in near real-time, displays when the sun goes down over one hemisphere and rises in the next. It simulates the lights from the most-densely populated cities, and shows darkness in more sparsely lived-in areas. Also intriguing – real-time cloud patterns and display, taken from NASA, giving you a single birds-eye view of the world and its weather. You can select from a number of display options, including satellite view or political view, equirectangular or globe, and more.

Even if you’re locked in a cubicle in the office, and can’t see a window, you’ll know the sun is going down as darkness covers your city. If you’re staying up too late, you’ll see the sunrise inevitably creep to the West, threatening to catch up with you. But no matter your task, EarthDesk is rendering real-time imagery in the background, giving you a snapshot of the world, on your Mac. You can download the program from the Apple Web site, or directly from the developer. To purchase the program, it’s $23.95.

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