EarthDesk Support
Please review this page before contacting us for support.

Version 7.3.3
Released March 10, 2019
Please make sure you are running the latest version of the software. Requires macOS 10.10 or newer.

Version 6.8.1
Released February 18, 2019
Please use this version if your Mac is running an older version of OS X. Requires macOS 10.6 - 10.9.

The data format of the Tropical Storms data feed has changed. If you are running EarthDesk 7 for Mac, you must install the free update to version 7.3. Older versions will no longer be able to update or display this data feed.

To update, look in the EarthDesk System Preferences Pane. Under the Settings Tab, click the "Check for Update" button. This will prompt you to download and install version 7.3.

Note that if you purchased EarthDesk via the Mac App Store, you should update through the App Store application.

Frequently Asked Questions

Version 7 is telling me it is from an unrecognized developer. How can I install it?

This is a bug in OS X 10.11.4 that affects prefPanes for some people. Please try redownloading the software as we have updated it on our server to work around this problem. If you are still having trouble, please download the software here: EarthDesk 7.3.1 Without Installer

Uncompress the zip file and then *DRAG* the resulting EarthDesk.prefPane file to the System Preferences window. Do not double-click the prefPane file or you will see the same error.

How do I prevent the "this application was downloaded from the internet" warning?

This can happen due to a bug in OS X that fails to remove the "quarantine" flag on downloaded files. To manually fix this, open Terminal and type the following:

     sudo xattr -dr

Leave a space after the word "quarantine" and then find your EarthDesk Preference Pane file which is located at one of the following places:


Drag the EarthDesk.prefPane file into the Terminal window and it will automatically type the full pathname as text. Press Return to remove the quarantine flag. You will be asked for your password.

How do I uninstall EarthDesk?

There is an uninstall button located in either the License Tab (v5 & v7) or the Advanced Tab (v6) of the EarthDesk System Preference Pane. If you have partially removed EarthDesk, it is easiest to reinstall the software and use this button. In rare cases, there may be permissions errors on your machine that prevent the automatic uninstall from working. Please use manual uninstall in these cases.

If you originally installed EarthDesk for all users on your machine, after clicking the uninstall button, go back into System Preferences and control-click on the EarthDesk icon to fully remove it.

You can manually remove EarthDesk by following these steps (note that some files mentioned may not exist):

  1. Open Activity Monitor and be sure "EarthDesk Core," "EarthDesk Engine" and "EarthDesk Menu" are not running. If they are, select each one and choose "Quit Process" form the View Menu.
  2. Remove the following PrefPane file (check both user and root level Library folders):
          (~) /Library/PreferencePanes/EarthDesk.prefpane
  3. Delete the following files in your Preferences folder:
          (~) /Library/Preferences/
          (~) /Library/Preferences/com.xericdesign.earthdesk.core.plist
          (~) /Library/Preferences/com.xericdesign.earthdesk.engine.plist
          (~) /Library/Preferences/com.xericdesign.earthdesk.prefPane.plist
  4. Delete the EarthDesk folder located in ~/Library/Application Support/
  5. Delete the EarthDesk folder located in /Users/Shared/
  6. In System Preferences, click Accounts and remove EarthDesk items under the Login Items Tab.
  7. Use the System Preferences utility to choose a desktop picture.
  8. Remove the files at ~/Library/Caches/Desktop
At this stage, EarthDesk has effectively been removed from your system and can be reinstalled to start fresh, but we suggest you log out and back in first. You will need to enter your license key and configure your settings the next time you use EarthDesk.

How do I configure EarthDesk as a screen saver?

In the Advanced Tab:

1. "Show EarthDesk on this display" should be selected. This is how EarthDesk generates images.

2. "Enable screen saver module" should be unselected.

3. EarthDesk Mode should be set to "Screen Saver Only". This will ensure that the images EarthDesk generates will not be displayed on the desktop.

4. Click "Show Support Files". A new window will open. Leave it there for a moment.

5. Go to Desktop & Screen Saver and click Screen Saver. On the left side, choose any style of screen saver, such as Floating or Origami. EarthDesk will appear in that style on your desktop.

6. On the right side, under Source, select Choose Folder. A sheet will slide down with a bunch of file names.

7. Go back to the Application Support window that opened in Step 4.

8. Under com.xericdesign.earthdesk, click the Desktops folder and drag it into the sheet with the file names.

9. Click "Choose".


Does EarthDesk work with Path Finder?

Not currently.

EarthDesk 6 set the actual desktop picture, but Apple changed the way spaces work in 10.11 and thus we can no longer set the desktop picture on a per-space, per-screen basis reliably. Even in 10.10 and earlier we were using undocumented techniques to do it. To solve this, EarthDesk 7 uses a window to show the map image.

Path Finder also uses its own windows to take over the desktop. For EarthDesk to work with it, the two programs need to be able to communicate with each other so that EarthDesk's window can be placed in the correct z-order (front to back layering) so that it falls in front of the Path Finder desktop, but behind Path Finder's icons. Alternatively, EarthDesk could simply tell Path Finder that it has updated the desktop with a new image.

We have written to CocoaTech (the developers of Path Finder) numerous times (long before EarthDesk 7 was released) and have only received a single reply (in November of 2015). We would love to make our products work together, but it does require some help from the folks who make Path Finder.

Until we can get CocoaTech to respond, there is little we can do regarding this problem.


Why is there a blue dot in the ocean with a number next to it?

This is a tropical storm and can be configured in the Internet Tab under "Storms".

How can I remove the default grid lines from the map?

In the Appearance Tab of the pref pane, click Graticule. A sheet will slide down with four boxes:

1. Parallels and Meridians
2. Equator
3. Tropical Circles
4. Polar Circles

Uncheck each of the four boxes, and then click Done.

Why does EarthDesk have an area that is darker?

That's where it's totally dark, with no moon. The lighter area is where the moon is shining, and the brightest part is full daylight.

You will see this change throughout the month as the moon waxes and wanes. The intensity of the moonlight will change with the phase of the moon and is most prominent in highly reflective areas, such as the sands of North Africa.

The shape of the dark area also changes, becoming more vertical near the equinoxes and more diagonal near the solstices.

In the Globe projection, you will see wedges of sunlight, total darkness and moonlight, which is how it actually looks from space.

If the power goes out in a major city, will I see it happen on EarthDesk?

No. The city lights are static photos. Clouds, earthquakes, named storms and the International Space Station are live data and are updated regularly.

Why does EarthDesk show lights in the Sea of Japan?

Those are fishing boats. The Japanese eat more seafood than any other nationality and the fishing boats need to be on the sea all night to get the morning catch.

What other cool and interesting things does EarthDesk show?

You can see lights along the Nile River, from Aswan Dam to the Nile Delta.

You can see the brightly lit highways linking Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Al-Ain, in the United Arab Emirates.

You can see cooking fires in West Africa and Myanmar (Burma).

You can see a sharp contrast in the amount of light coming from South Korea versus North Korea.

You can watch hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons form, grow and head towards land.

You can see the ash from major volcanic eruptions. (It tends to be yellowish in color.)

Write to us and tell us your favorite things to see on EarthDesk!