How To Customize WordPress’s Tag Cloud Widget

You don’t have to use it with default settings.

If you use WordPress widgets on your self-hosted WordPress blog, you may not be fully satisfied with the way the Tag Cloud widget looks and works on your site. I know I wasn’t. The maximum font size was too large for the most commonly used tag (helicopters, on my blog) to fit into the column in which I’d put it. Since I wanted my tag cloud in the narrow column in which it resided, I had to make a change.

The answer is to modify the wp_tag_cloud function in the category-template.php file. It’s remarkably easy to do. Here’s how.

  1. Open the file /wp-includes/category-template.php.
  2. Scroll down to the line that begins function wp_tag_cloud. If you’re using WordPress 2.7 and haven’t made any other changes to this file, you should find it at line 552. (You can always do a search for it; I found the general area by searching for “tag cloud.”)
  3. Make changes in the array as follows:

    Tag Cloud Function

    • To specify the smallest font size, set the value after ‘smallest’. The default is 8 points.
    • To specify the largest font size, set the value after ‘largest’. The default size is 22 points.
    • To specify the maximum number of tags included in the cloud, set the value after ‘number’. The default number of tags is 45.

    My Tag CloudI changed my settings to 6, 16, and 75 respectively. You can see the results in the screenshot here, as well as in the sidebar for my blog, An Eclectic Mind.

  4. Overwrite the existing file with the changed file.

When you reload a page that uses the Tag Cloud widget, your changes should appear immediately.

Keep in mind that if WordPress is updated and the file you changed is replaced, you may have to repeat these steps to reset your defaults.

Learn More

Lynda.comLearn more about working with a self-hosted WordPress 2.7 installation — or Check out my WordPress courses on

To Do List Widgets

Putting your to do list in the Dashboard.Back in August, I wrote a blog post titled “Ten Dashboard Widgets I Can’t Live Without.” In it, I included DoBeDo, a widget that displays the items in your iCal Do To list in the Dashboard. The trouble with DoBeDo, as I soon found out, is that it was not compatible with Mac OS X Leopard. So when I upgraded, I was without a to do list in my Dashboard. This seriously impacted my productivity, since I was in the habit of consulting the To Do list periodically throughout the day.

Time passed. Today, I decided to find a To Do list solution for Dashboard. And I found two: DoBeDo 4 and To Do Widget.

DoBeDo 4DoBeDo 4.0

Blue Henley, makers of DoBeDo, have upgraded their software. DoBeDo 4 is Leopard-compatible and offers the same collection of features found in the Tiger-compatible version (which is still available for those of you who haven’t upgraded yet).
DoBeDo BackI like DoBeDo because of its extremely flexible display options, which you can access on the back of the widget. You can set sort options, how long completed items are displayed, how far in the future items should be displayed. You can also choose from among 4 predefined styles and how much detail should appear in the dialog you use to add a new item.You can also print a to do list — which is something I can’t seem to do from within iCal itself. That alone makes it a good tool for managing things to do. I’m very glad to have it back.

To Do WidgetTo Do Widget

To Do Widget, by Philipe Fatio, offers to do list functionality in the Dashboard using a yellow notepad interface that nicely matches the interface in Mail.
To Do Widget BackTo Do’s customization features are a bit limited when compared with DoBeDo’s. You can set sorting options, but you can only select whether completed items show or don’t show –rather than allow them to be displayed for a limited number of days. One nice feature is the ability to set the font and font size, although the options are limited. I absolutely hate Apple’s choice of Marker Felt font,which is the default for To Do, so it was nice to be able to change it to one I prefer.

What They Both Do

Both widgets are fully integrated into iCal and Mail. In fact, it was kind of neat to see one widget immediately change when I made a change to the other. Both widgets enable you to mark an item as completed, edit an item, add an item, or remove an item. So you can manage your entire To Do list through either widget.

Both are good options for anyone who needs a To Do list in their Mac OS X Dashboard. Try them and pick the one you like best. Both are free, although I assume that the developers wouldn’t turn down a donation to thank them for their efforts.

Seeing Related Words in the Dictionary Widget

It’s as easy as clicking a button.

I use the Dictionary widget a lot. In fact, it made my list of “Ten Dashboard Widgets I can’t Live Without.” This little widget can not only define a word and provide synonyms, but it can also display a clickable list of related words.

Give it a try:

  1. Display the Dictionary widget.
  2. Enter a word and press Return. (In this example, I entered the word apple.) The word’s definition appears.
    Dictionary Definition
  3. Click the letter in the half circle on the left side of the window. (In this example, it’s the letter A.) A list of related words appears.
    Related Words List
  4. To get more information about one of the words, click it.

This also works with the Thesaurus and Apple dictionary features of the Dictionary widget.

Ten Dashboard Widgets I Can’t Live Without

What’s on my Mac.I have thoroughly embraced the Dashboard widget feature Apple introduced in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. And while I don’t have time to keep up with the dozens of new widgets that are released each week, I have managed to pick up a few favorites.Among them are a bunch I use daily. They’re the ones that are set up and ready to go so that when I press the F12 key, they’re onscreen, providing me with the information I want or waiting for me to type in a request.Here’s my list of widgets I can’t live without. Some of them might surprise you.

First, the Basics

I regularly use three of the widgets that come with Mac OS X.Weather WidgetWeather provides basic weather information. I usually display two locations: Wickenburg, which is where I live, and Williams, which is near where our vacation property is. One look at the screenshots here should give you an idea of why I’m thinking of Williams when I live in Wickenburg. (Yeah, but it’s a dry heat.)
Calculator WidgetCalculator is a handy tool for anyone who needs to perform quick calculations. Here’s how I might use it on a typical day. I’m working on my Mac, hopefully doing something that’ll earn me a bit of money. The phone rings and I answer. It’s someone interested in a helicopter charter from Phoenix to Laughlin, NV by way of Sedona. (Not exactly on the way.) How much would that cost? I press F12 and start punching numbers into the calculator, based on my rough idea of time and my hourly rate. The number I come up with shocks my caller. After a pause, he says, “I’ll have to think about it. I’ll get back to you.” We hang up and I know I’ll never hear from him again. But at least I had a quick answer for him.
Dictionary WidgetThe third Apple-provided widget that’s always open on my Dashboard is Dictionary. And no, I don’t use it for spelling. I work with words and like to make sure I’m using the right one. So, as I write, I may come up with a word I’m not quite sure about. I’ll press F12 and paste the word into Dictionary. Its definitions and synonyms help me get things right. It’s also a handy tool as I read other blogs and sites and find words I’m not familiar with. F12 gets me the answer within seconds.

More Weather

Radar In Motion widgetDuring monsoon season here in Arizona, storms are always moving around the state. That’s why I keep Radar In Motion by Kamal Aboul-Hosn set up to show me the local radar. It’s customizable so you can set not only the location, but the type of radar image you want. You can also store multiple locations and click to switch between them. What’s interesting is that it’ll even provide weather warnings, like the Flash Flood warning I saw last month (which was followed, within an hour or so, by a flash flood through my property — fancy that!).


I have a brain like a sieve. Although I’d like to think that the onset of middle age has nothing to do with it, I know better. I also believe that if you cram too much stuff into a brain, some of it has to leak out somewhere.So I use three Dashboard widgets to help me remember things.iCal Events widgetiCal Events by Ben Kazez is a widget that lists events from iCal. It’s a vast improvement over Apple’s [rather lame] Calendar widget. It’s customizable so you can specify how many days of events should show and which calendars should be displayed. Simple but elegant. And I like red.
DoBeDo widgetDoBeDo by Ron Morrison pulls items off my iCal To Do list. It’s customizable so I can set the sort order, how many days in advance should show, and other things. I can even add items to my Do To list without opening iCal. Best of all (for me) is that the window is resizable, so I can see all my to do items in a single window.
UpcomingBirthdays widgetUpcomingBirthdays by William Turnage is a simple one-trick pony that reminds me about birthdays of people in my Address Book data file. Not only does it remind me of upcoming birthdays (like Cliff’s in two days), but also of past birthdays. I can customize it to set the number of days in either direction for the listing.

For Fun (and Deep Thoughts)

I use widgets for less serious things, too. (Or perhaps you might think they’re more serious when you see my next choice.)Doonesbury widgetThe Doonesbury widget by Michael Gaiman displays the current day’s Doonesbury comic strip on my computer. This is a full-sized strip that fits in its own window. (It’s reduced here so it fits in the text column of my blog with text wrapping around it.) On Sundays, the window is huge — almost too big to fit on my 12″ PowerBook. I consider Doonesbury my reality check. When I hear something on the radio that makes me shake my head and wonder what the hell the world is coming too, chances are, I’ll read about it in Doonesbury within a week or so. That lets me know that I’m not the only one who thinks there’s something screwing going on.

For Keeping Track of my Hosting Fund

RevenuSense widgetI pay for Web site hosting with money I earn from Google AdSense. My hosting costs are low, which is a good thing because I don’t get much revenue. But the RevenuSense widget by Nobuhiko Wajima keeps track of it for me without having to visit the AdSense site. Press F12, wait for a refresh, and I can see yesterday’s earnings, today’s earnings, and month-to-date earnings, all in a little window.

For Managing Widgets

One thing I was never happy about was the two-step interface for opening Dashboard widgets. Sure you can keep the Widget Manager open all the time, but it takes up a lot of real estate.DashOpener widgetThen I found DashOpener by Lasar Liepens. This widget is a launch pad for all installed widgets. Although it’s
configurable, so you can set it to display multiple columns, I like it with its default settings. Clicking each of the letters “L,” “m,” and “i,” displays a list (shown here), manager feature, and configuration options. Click the name of the widget to collapse it; click it again to reload it for any newly installed widgets. Quick, easy, and smaller than the Widget Manager.

How About You?

What widget do you use every day? What does it do for you to make your life easier? Let us know. Use the Comments link or form. to share your favorite widget with us.


A Mac OS X Widget to track AdSense Revenue.

One of the things that bugs me about AdSense is that checking my AdSense reports is a multistep process:

  1. Launch my Web browser.
  2. Go to the AdSense home page.
  3. Enter login information. (My browser won’t remember it because I have an AdSense account and an AdWords account.)
  4. Click to log in.
  5. Select the report period.

Okay, so that’t not so much work. But wouldn’t it be nicer to just press a key and have yesterday’s, today’s, and the current month’s AdSense Revenue magically appear?

The RevenuSense WidgetThat’s basically what the RevenuSense widget does. Once installed and configured with your AdSense account’s e-mail address and password, it automatically queries Google for basic revenue information. Just leave the widget open on your Dashboard and press F12. The AdSense revenue information appears with all your other open widgets.

Additional configuration options include update frequency and currency conversions, so you can fine-tune how the display works.

I think this is a great tool for any Mac user with an AdSense account — especially bloggers, who often depend on AdSense revenue to pay for their blogging habits.