Gadgets

Gadgets are mini-applications (applets) for the Windows 7 desktop that give you access to frequently changing information, such as the current time, weather, stock quotes, news feeds, computer usage, and the like. Figure 1-4 shows you my desktop with the Gadgets Gallery window displayed. (See "Adding new gadgets to your desktop" later in this part.)

My desktop currently holds the following items:

✓ Clock, which shows an analog clock with the current time for any time zone you select.

✓ Slide Show, which displays a continuous slide show of the images that are stored in your Pictures library.

✓ Calendar, which shows the current day and date.

✓ Weather, which shows the current temperature (and when enlarged, weather conditions) for a selected town or city.

✓ Feed Headlines, which shows you news headlines for the RSS feed you select. (See "Internet Explorer 8" in Part 4 for details on RSS feeds and how to subscribe to them.)

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Adding new gadgets to your desktop

You can easily add gadgets to your Windows desktop. Not only can you select new gadgets from among those that are automatically shipped with the Windows 7 operating system, but you can always download gadgets from an ever-expanding online library. When you add new gadgets, Windows automatically displays them sequentially down a single column on the far right of your desktop (although, you can then move them anywhere you want on the desktop — see "Resizing gadgets and repositioning them on the desktop" later in this part).

To add gadgets to the desktop from among those that are included with Windows 7, follow these few steps:

1. Right-click the desktop and then choose Gadgets from the shortcut menu.

Windows 7 opens the Gadget Gallery window that displays all the gadgets on your computer, similar to the one shown in Figure 1-4.

2. Double-click the icon of the gadget you want to add to the desktop or right-click it and then click the Add option on the shortcut menu.

Windows adds the gadget to the right side of the Windows desktop.

3. When you finish adding gadgets, click the Close button in the Gadget Gallery window.

To download more gadgets from the Internet, open the Gadgets Gallery window as described in Step 1 and then click the Get More Gadgets Online link. Windows 7 then opens the Personalize Your PC Web page in the Internet Explorer. This page offers not only gadget news and instructions on how to download new gadgets, but also information on how to build your own gadgets, if you're so inclined.

Jlf^- To remove a gadget from the desktop, position the mouse pointer in the upper-right corner of the gadget you want to remove and then click the X that appears. Lj/ Note that removing a gadget from the desktop doesn't delete it from your computer — to do that, you need to open the Gadgets Gallery window, right-click the gadget's thumbnail, and then choose Uninstall from its shortcut menu. To restore a gadget that you've removed from the desktop, just repeat the preceding steps for adding a new gadget.

Customizing the contents of a gadget

Many of the gadgets you add to the desktop are generic and need to be customized. For example, you can customize the Clock gadget by selecting a new clock face, giving it a name, and selecting a time zone other than your own. (By default, this analog clock automatically displays the same time as the digital time display in the notification area of the Windows 7 taskbar.) You also need to customize the Feed Headlines gadget so that it displays news headlines for a particular RSS feed to which you've subscribed. (See "Internet Explorer 8" in Part 4 for details on how to subscribe to an RSS feed.)

To customize the contents of a gadget, position the mouse pointer in the upper-right corner of the gadget and then click the wrench icon that appears immediately beneath the X. Alternatively, you can also right-click its icon and then choose Options from the shortcut menu. Windows 7 then opens a dialog box specific to the gadget that enables you to customize its display.

For example, if you open the settings dialog box for the Clock gadget (see Figure 1-5), you can then select a new clock face by clicking either the Next or Previous button (the ones with the triangles pointing right and left, respectively), and entering a clock name (such as London or Beijing) in the Clock Name text box. Next, select the appropriate time zone for the clock from the Time Zone dropdown list. In addition, this dialog box contains a Show the Second Hand check box that you can select if you want the Clock gadget to display a moving red second hand.

Changing the opacity of a gadget

In addition to customizing what information appears in a gadget (as in the RSS feed headlines shown in the Feed Headlines gadget), you can also customize the overall opacity of a gadget. Any gadget you add to the Windows 7 desktop is automatically displayed at 100-percent opacity (making it as opaque and non-see-through as possible). You can, however, lighten up any of your gadgets — making them more see-through — by changing the gadget's opacity.

To modify the opacity of a gadget, right-click the gadget and then highlight the Opacity item on its shortcut menu. Windows then displays a submenu where you can click the new opacity percentage item you want to use (20%, 40%, 60%, or 80%). The lower the percentage, the more transparent the gadget is.

Resizing gadgets and repositioning them on the desktop

Some gadgets have a Larger Size option that you can use to increase its display size on the desktop. To use this option, position the mouse pointer somewhere on the gadget and then click the Larger Size button (with an arrow pointing diagonally up to the right) that appears between the Close and Options buttons on the right size of the gadget (when the gadget offers this resizing option).

Immediately after you increase the display size of a gadget, the Larger Size button changes into a Smaller Size button that you can click whenever you want to return the gadget to its original display size on the desktop.

Windows 7 also enables you to reposition any gadget on the desktop by moving it out of its original position on the far right of the desktop. To relocate a gadget, position the mouse pointer on its Drag Gadget button (the one whose icon sports a grid of dots) that appears immediately beneath the Options button (the one with the wrench icon) on the right side of the gadget. Then, drag and drop the gadget in its new position on the Windows desktop just as you would any other desktop icon or the title bar of any open window.

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