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Windows 7 - How to Use Desktop Gadgets

If you have just upgraded to Windows 7 or purchased a new computer, you're probably wondering where the Sidebar feature from Windows Vista disappeared to. While many people liked the Windows Vista Sidebar, there were frequent complaints about its poor performance and slightly unwieldy interface. Windows 7 instead replaced the Sidebar with a new but fairly similar feature; Desktop Gadgets. Desktop Gadgets are very similar to the gadgets that you could add to the Windows Vista Sidebar. You can place them anywhere on the desktop and there are literally dozens of useful and fun gadgets to choose from on Microsoft's website.

Each gadget is basically a small, lightweight application. Windows 7 includes a few of its own, such as a system performance monitor, a calendar and a weather reporting application. Many of them are fairly customizable too. Most gadgets take up a minimal amount of system resources, though having too many on your desktop at once can make an impact on performance.

Accessing the Desktop Gadgets is easy. Although they are disabled by default, all you need to do is right-click on the desktop and click on "Gadgets." A small window will appear with a list of all of the available gadgets. If you don't see anything you like, there are plenty more available by clicking on the link in the bottom-right corner of the window.

To place a gadget on the desktop, you can simply drag it out of this window and anywhere onto the desktop. Similar to the Windows Vista Sidebar, you can snap most gadgets to the edges of the desktop.

Some gadgets provide extra settings and customization features. If you move the mouse over a gadget, a small bar containing several buttons will appear to the right. Clicking the cross will remove the gadget from your desktop while clicking the arrow button below allows you to enlarge the gadget and make it smaller again. Many gadgets have quite different versions for large and small sizes. Some gadgets also provide a button with a spanner icon which, when clicked, will bring up a settings window. For example, doing this with the weather gadget included in Windows will enable you to specify your location.

Any gadgets which you have on your desktop will always come back when you log off or restart Windows, but you can easily remove them at any time.


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