Windows only: Freeware application CoolMon monitors your systems vitals with attractive desktop-embedded widgets. In very basic operation, CoolMon displays information like RAM usage, hard drive space, and CPU load, but with the right plugins you can embed just about anything on your desktop—like new email alerts, weather, the song you're currently listening to, and so on. If all you're looking for is more of a plain-text to-do list on your desktop, check out previously mentioned Samurize. Mac users should take a look at GeekTool. Setup for CoolMon is a little quirky, so check out Simplehelp's post guide if you're having trouble. CoolMon is freeware, Windows only.
Add System Monitoring to Your Desktop with CoolMon
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