Using and Customizing Desktop Gadgets

One of the most conspicuous new features in Windows Vista was Windows Sidebar, a repository for miniprograms (called gadgets) that can amuse, inform, and distract you all day long. Windows 7 continues to support gadgets, but they're no longer constrained to the sidebar along one edge of your screen; they can be scattered anywhere on your desktop

You can easily add or remove gadgets whenever you feel the need for something new on your computer screen . The gadget gallery that comes with Windows includes about a dozen offerings but has a handy link to a much larger online gallery

To add a gadget to your desktop, right-click the desktop and choose Gadgets to summon the gadget gallery

For clues about what a gadget might do, select it and click Show Details . To install a gadget, you can either drag it to the desktop or right-click it and choose Add . After you have installed a gadget, you'll probably want to prod it with your mouse (try both buttons, and click on various parts) to see what tricks it knows and what options it offers . Each gadget is different, but they're all designed to make their features discoverable . Many gadgets sprout a wrench icon when you point to them; click it to make settings and customizations . Some gadgets (Weather, for example) include a Make Smaller or Make Larger icon, which changes the amount of information the gadget displays .

Many gadgets rely on online updates (weather and stocks, for example). When you don't have an internet connection, these gadgets show information from the last online update and include a time stamp at the bottom that shows how old the data is.

To remove a gadget, click the Close button. Gadgets that you close remain in the gallery for easy recovery; if you want to remove a gadget from your computer, open the gadget gallery, right-click the gadget, and choose Uninstall. If you'd rather hide your gadgets temporarily without removing them, right-click the desktop and choose View, Show Desktop Gadgets to remove the check mark and hide your gadgetry.

To get to the online gadget site, click Get More Gadgets Online, in the bottom right corner of the gadget gallery. If you download a gadget from this site, it takes up residence in the gallery, so you can easily close it and reopen it whenever you want. The search box in the gadget gallery is also a list. By opening the list, you can filter the gallery to show recently installed gadgets or gadgets from particular publishers .

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