One of the big features of Windows 11 is the widgets. These may remind you of the Windows 10 Start menu, except you access these from your taskbar. They’re a great way to customize your Windows experience and get the info you want and need just by clicking a single icon on your taskbar. If you haven’t checked out Windows 11 widgets yet, test out a few of the ones we mention here to see how useful they are.
What Are Windows 11 Widgets?
If you ever used Windows 10, you might be familiar with the “Live Tiles” on the Start menu. These include weather, news, a photo gallery, and much more. Windows 11 widgets are similar yet better, as they’re not cluttering up your start menu and are easier to manage.
They’re individual apps that you add to a widget menu in your taskbar. Click the widget icon, and you’re treated to weather, sports, news stories, traffic, photos, and even your to-do list. You’re free to customize each widget and remove anything you don’t want. You can even adjust the types of news stories you see.
How to Add Windows Widgets
If you don’t see the widget icon (a blue and white square) in your taskbar, you’ll need to add the widget feature.
- Start by right-clicking your taskbar and choosing “Taskbar Settings.”
- Toggle the “Widgets” option to “On.”
- You’ll see the icon appear next to your start menu. This is the only thing that’s not too great about this feature. You can’t change the placement on your taskbar.
Once added, click the widget icon to view the default setup. Right off, you have Weather, Sports, Photos, and Suggested Stocks to watch. Below these, you’ll see a variety of news stories, including local, national, international, and entertainment.
If you’d like to add a new widget, click the “Add widgets” button just below the widget tiles and above the news tiles.
While there aren’t many to choose from, all you have to do is click the widget name itself or the “+” icon beside it. This adds it to your list below your last widget.
How to Remove Windows Widgets
If you don’t like some of the default choices or have added something you no longer need, it’s simple to remove it.
- Click the three-dot menu button at the top right of the widget you want to remove.
- Select “Remove widget.”
This removes the widget along with any customized settings. If you add it back in the future, you’ll need to re-add any custom settings, such as selecting specific sports teams or cities for the weather.
How to Change Widget Settings
Every Windows 11 widget can be customized to some extent.
- Click the widget’s three-dot menu button and select “Customize widget.” For this example, we’re customizing the Sports widget.
- This opens up options to add your favorite teams and leagues. By default, mine was set to the NBA. We changed it instead to MLS.
- It’ll then show you the top score(s) from that league or team. You can click the “See more MLS” link to see more scores and details. The name of the link is based on your league or team. This takes you to the appropriate MSN webpage.
- In addition to changing settings, you can also arrange your widgets however you’d like, though you can’t move anything in the News section, which is below the widgets area.
- Drag and drop individual widget boxes in the order you’d prefer to see them.
How to Customize Widget News
The news area isn’t exactly a widget, so you can’t move it around. However, you can still customize the types of stories you see. By default, you just get a bunch of everything mixed together.
- The “Top stories” section is the only section you can’t change. Everything else is up to you. Scroll to the first news story below the “Top stories” section.
- Click the three-dot menu at the bottom right and select “Manage interests.” You’ll need to be signed in to Windows to do this.
- This takes you to MSN.com, where you can add and remove interests. Unless you’ve added interests to your account before, you’ll be starting with a blank slate. Use the categories to the left to filter your options. Use the “+” button beside topics to add that topic to your feed. You can also use the search box at the top to look for specific topics or sites/publications.
- You can also use the “Tune your feed” option on the bottom left of the page to adjust your news sources. For example, if you prefer Associated Press over CNN, you can pick AP as a preferred provider. Once you’re finished with this, you’ll see the news section change to better suit you tastes.
- Another way to customize your stories is to hide, like, or dislike individual stories/sources. Click the menu button at the bottom-right corner of a story and select “More stories like this,” “Fewer stories like this,” or “Hide stories from source.”
Which Windows 11 Widgets to Add First?
If you’re just starting with Windows 11 widgets, you may want to just start with a few that are most useful to you. Three of the most useful include:
- Weather – Quickly see the weather details at a glance for your current location or a city of your choosing.
- To Do – Create to-do lists and check off items as you complete them. This works well for a daily task list.
- Outlook Calendar – Keep track of your schedule without having to open Outlook Calendar. All you have to do is link your Outlook account, and you’ll see details from the widget.
If you’ve set up a “Microsoft Family” account, you can add the “Family Safety” widget to easily manage your settings from your taskbar. Another useful option is the Traffic widget to check on conditions before you head out.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. I edited my news interests, but my stories haven’t changed. Why?
It can take up to 24 hours for your preferences to start taking effect. If you want to see a more immediate change, restart your PC. Outside of top stories, news stories don’t update immediately. If there’s something you really don’t like seeing, click the “X” button on the story to hide it. You can also dislike it or hide the source as explained in the Customize News Widget section.
2. Can I make a widget bigger or smaller?
Yes. Each widget has a default setting, which is either Small or Medium. Click the menu icon at the top right of a widget and select a size. This will allow the widget to show more or less information. For example, the Sports widget shows a single set of scores when set to Small, three scores on Medium, and four scores on Large.
3. What does the Search box at the top do?
The Windows 11 widget feature also gives you a handy search option. When you open Widgets on your taskbar, you can search using “Bing Search” from the top of the window. This automatically opens results in the Edge browser.
You can’t change this default without a third-party tool. Most don’t work as well as you might hope, so it’s simpler to just stick with the defaults. Alternatively, simply open your preferred browser and search from there.
4. Will widgets slow down my PC?
No. They’re not quite as resource-intensive as the Windows “Live Tiles” that reside in the Windows 8 and Windows 10 start menu. However, if you’re on battery power, you may want to skip widgets that update more frequently, such as Photos.
The benefit to Widgets over “Live Tiles” is that there aren’t nearly as many options, though this could change in the future. With fewer possible widgets, you use less PC resources.
5. Are widgets the only way to customize my taskbar?
Far from it. Widgets are a great addition, but there are numerous ways to customize your taskbar to make it more useful. You can add items, shortcuts, a search box, add a touch keyboard, and much more.
6. How can I add widgets in Windows 10?
Windows 10 doesn’t have the same widgets feature as Windows 11. You’ll need to use Live Tiles from within the Start menu to get a similar feature. Or, if you prefer Windows 11 widgets, upgrade to Windows 11 if your device meets the minimum requirements.
Image credit: Unsplash
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