Mac OS X dashboard lost stickies – where is the backup?

Lost your stickies on a Mac OS-X system?  Scenario: You wipe and reload your Mac OS X only to find that the Stickies you had in the dashboard view have disappeared. I have just reinstated these for a client remotely via Team Viewer and this is the procedure I used. We’ll presume you have either a copy of your library folder or a Time Machine backup.

Open Terminal from the Applications folder. The following is case-sensitive….

Type in

sudo -s

and press enter. This will prompt for the administrator password. Type in and press enter.

Now we need to “kill” the Dashboard as we can’t do much while it is live. For this, type in:

defaults write mcx-disabled -boolean YES

Now we finish this with a

killall Dock

Keep the terminal window open.

Open Finder and navigate in your backup (eg Time Machine) to /YourUserFolder/Library/Preferences and find ALL files starting with “widget-com”, “” and “”.

Drag these files to /Library/Preferences, making sure you copy and not move. I like to have 2 Finder windows open to do this.

Back in Terminal, we use the ‘Up’ cursor to bring back our previous typed command and modify the first one to:

defaults write mcx-disabled -boolean NO

Finish with a

killall Dock

This starts the dashboard again

Mac sticky notes reinstated from backup!

The dashboard should now be as it was before and your stickies should be reinstated.  You can try this now, it shouldn’t need a restart.

Interestingly, TeamViewer stayed connected all through for me, even when the dock was tampered with in Terminal.  It also was quite impressive that this was cross-operating system.

Lost stickies Mac OSX

Click for full size view

Here, a Windows 7 64-bit box was controlling a dual core iMac running OS X (Mac purists can throw up now), but a necessary evil as both our Mac rigs were occupied.  I had mounted my backup external drive image of the client’s PC using HFS Explorer, a simple, small and free Windows program that reads HFS partitions, in this case MAC extended journaled.  For real nerds, journaling accelerates the recovery time after any unexpected shutdown such as a power outage. A server automatically tracks file system operations and maintains a continuous record of these transactions in a separate file, called a journal.  The o/s can use the journal to return the file system to a known state after any failure.  Compare it to a Windows PC and the lengthy chkdsk /r command and it’s a much better system.

Click here to see how to restore the MAC OS X sticky note data. This is for the standard sticky notes, not the dashboard versions.

19 thoughts on “Mac OS X dashboard lost stickies – where is the backup?

  1. Thanks so much for these step-by-step instructions for copying sticky notes! I was able to successfully migrate my sticky notes in my dashboard from my Mac OS X Snow Leopard backup to my fresh install of Lion

  2. just a quick thank you for the tips, saved my old dashboard notes from an old backup. some of the other sites mentioned just using the plist file which wasn’t working. replaced all the files as above and it worked.


    • On your Time Machine, find /[drivename]/Users/[yourname]/Library/Preferences, and copy to the exact same location on your new setup. Then logout and back in again to update the stickies. If this fails to work then try copying as well. If you have nothing in the Preferences folder then unfortunately there is no working backup.

  3. It’s not working for me. I have a fresh install of Lion and a time machine backup from Leopard. Could it have something to do with the fact that on Leopard I had a Library folder within my user folder as well as on the main drive and that now on Lion there’s none in the user folder?

  4. Thanks… I previously made a guide for this in danish also but for leopard instead… Thanks for this one! Saved me 🙂

  5. I’m trying to restore the Dashboard from a previous Lion install and I have the original drive connected to the computer currently, not a backup. Is there any reason that the files mentioned above (“widget-com”, “” and “”) are non-existant? Did Lion change where those files are stored?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • Figured it out. Had to navigate to each of the folders using the “go to folder” shortcut:

  6. Thank you so much! I tried a couple other methods with no luck. But, this one worked for me. Reinstated my stickies and the rest of my dashboard stuff!

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