NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, July 2011
The Seventh Son of Windows:
Desktop Gadgets

By Lee Reynolds,
Contributing Editor, Boca Raton Computer Society, FL
April 2011 issue, Boca Bits
leetutor (at) exploringwindows.com (click to email author)

Windows Vista introduced a new feature called the Sidebar, which was a narrow section of your Desktop where you could have small applications running called Gadgets. These Gadgets could be moved out of the Sidebar and anchored somewhere else on your Desktop, if you wished, but still the Sidebar application had to be running.

In Windows 7, there is no longer any Sidebar, but Desktop Gadgets are still present, and you set them up in a new Control Panel applet of the same name. (In Windows Vista, the Sidebar was on by default, whereas in Windows 7 there is no Sidebar and any Gadgets you want must be configured in Control Panel.)

Windows 7 Gadgets
The Gadgets present in Windows 7 are the same as those provided by Vista, with an additional one that is connected to Windows Media Center. These Gadgets are mini-applications designed to use web technology so as to provide real-time access to information of one type or another available through the internet. The built-in Gadgets are these:

* a Calendar application which shows the month, day, year, and day of week. If you click it, you will see the entire month
* a Clock which can be configured to show one of 8 different clock faces and any time zone
* a CPU meter which shows two analog style dials measuring current memory usage and CPU utilization
* a Currency converter
* a Headline Feed of RSS feeds that you are subscribed to via Internet Explorer
* a Media Center gadget that shows a revolving set of links to various parts of Windows Media Center
* a Weather gadget which can be configured for any location in the world
* a Stocks gadget for tracking stocks
* a Picture Puzzle where you slide tiles around against a timer
* a Slide Show gadget for showing the photos you configure for it

Other Gadgets
There are many other Gadgets that can be downloaded from the internet and installed, if you so desire...

Windows 7 Gadget Options
If you click on the Show Desktop area of the Taskbar in Windows 7 (a narrow rectangular area on the extreme right end), then you will see the Desktop with its Gadgets (if any.) In Windows Vista, when you clicked on the Show Desktop icon of the Quick Launch Bar, the Gadgets were not visible.

Gadgets can be shown on your Desktop in Windows 7 even if you are not on line with an internet connection, but they will in this case feature a time stamp which shows how out of date the associated data is. Some of the Gadgets, e.g., the Calendar, can be toggled between various sizes. Some of them have Touch capabilities for those users who have a touch screen attached to their PC.

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