7 Useful Windows Desktop Gadgets

One of the most interesting features of Windows 7 is the ability to add “gadgets” to your desktop. These are small apps that help display information and allow you to interact with your computer without launching other programmes. In this article I will outline how these gadgets can be installed, used and will also highlight some of my favourite ones.

Installing Gadgets

To launch the Gadgets dashboard, right-click anywhere on your Windows desktop and select Gadgets.

gadget-right-click

Once the gadgets dashboard launches, you can select gadgets to add to your desktop or install new gadgets by searching in the online Gadgets directory.

gadget-dashboard

The online gadgets directory has a number of interesting desktop gadgets to select from.

gadget-example

Once you have found the gadget you wish to install select Download and then Install.

gadget-install

This will download a small file with a “.gadget” extension onto your computer.

gadget-file

Open this file to install the new gadget. You will be prompted to verify installation.

gadget-verifyinstall

Once you have verified the installation, the new Gadget will appear inĀ  your gadgets dashboard.

gadget-dashboard2

The new gadget will also appear on your Windows desktop.

gadget-desktop

To uninstall the gadget, simply right-click on it in the gadget dashboard.

gadget-remove

Gadget Options

After the gadget has been installed and appears on your desktop, you can play around with a number of settings (below is the Now Playing gadget).

gadget-options

The first icon closes the gadget, but it does not delete the gadget.

The second icon allows you to increase/decrease the size of the gadget. This works differently for different Gadgets.

For example, when the Now Playing gadgets size is reduced, it looks like this:

gadget-small

The smaller version of the Calendar gadget looks like this:

gadget-calendar-small

The third option opens the settings panel for the gadget. Again each gadget has different settings that can be altered to tweak the settings of the gadget.

Finally, the last option allows you to move the gadget.

Different Gadgets

I use a total of seven gadgets on my Windows desktop. Some of the gadgets I have highlighted come with your Windows installation, however some of them require additional downloads. I have provided links where appropriate.

Google Calendar

The Google Calendar Gadget must be downloaded and installed.

gadget-googcalendar

This is a useful gadget that shows the upcoming appointments that you have added through your Google Calendar account. Of course this gadget only works if you actually have a Google account and have added items on your Google Calendar.

After the gadget loads you must click on the settings button to input your Google account settings and select the calendars you want the gadget to display.

gadget-calendar-settings

Amongst other useful features, the gadget flashes upcoming appointments, displays the colour of individual calendar and even allows you to add new events using the gadget.

To create a new event, click on the small round icon in the top right, and then select the paper icon.

gadget-calendar-create2

Here you can input the information in the same format as you would in Google Calendar.

gadget-calendar-create

Now Playing

After you have download and installed the Now Playing gadget you will see a small gadget with icons for various music players.

gadget-nowplaying (2)

Before the gadget launches you must select the music player that you intend the gadget to be associated with (I use MediaMonkey). The gadget should launch automatically showing the currently playing song.

The gadget also has a number of keys that can be toggled.

gadget-nowplaying

Audio Controls: Play/Pause, Previous track, Next track

Shuffle: Toggle the playlist shuffle options (on/off)

Lyrics: Displays the lyrics of the currently playing song (only works with Windows Media Player, Winamp and iTunes and requires the Lyrics Plugin)

Playlist: Displays all your playlists

Cover: Displays the track cover

Rating: Change the number of stars to set the rating for that track.

Calendar

The default Calendar gadget is a fairly simple one that shows the current date and also has a browsable Calendar.

gadget-calendar

World Clock

The World Clock gadget is a simple clock gadget that displays times from different parts of the world, while also showing the weather in that region.

gadget-world-clock

I usually add a few instances of this gadget to show the times from different regions around the world.

Sushi Drive Info

The Sushi Drive Info gadget provides a graphical view of how much drive space is free.

gadget-diskinfo

CPU Meter

This is a very stylish gadget that displays the amount of CPU and RAM being used.

gadget-cpumeter

The bigger dial on the left shows what percentage of your PC’s processing power is being used. Similarly, the smaller dial on the right shows the percentage of RAM being used.

Daemon Tools

The Daemon Tools gadget comes with the Daemon Tools application which must be downloaded and installed. Daemon Tools is a popular programme that allows you to make disc image files and emulate virtual CD/DVD drives.

The gadget simply makes this process easier by providing a drag-and-drop function to load CD/DVD images.

gadget-daemontools

Which Windows gadgets do you use?