From the Kenosha News on 1-13-08

Gadgets for Windows Vista can bring fun and function to your desktop

      The first time I used Windows Vista, one of the things I noticed was all of the clutter on the desktop.  There was a clock, some photos that kept changing, and so on.  One of my first questions was “How do I get this stuff off my desktop?”  It turns out that “this stuff” is a new feature – “gadgets.” 

      Windows gadgets are small programs that provide some kind of function or amusement and stay running on your computer all the time – waiting for you to use them. These gadgets live in an area of your screen called the “sidebar.”  You can add and remove gadgets from the sidebar as you like, or you can close the sidebar entirely.  Oddly, the amount of memory used by the contents of the sidebar does not appear to change – nor does the number of active processes – when you add or remove gadgets.

      If the sidebar is open on your screen, you can close it by right-clicking anywhere on it between the gadgets and selecting “Close Sidebar.”  If the sidebar isn’t on your screen, you can open it by right-clicking on the Windows Sidebar icon in the systray (the area of icons in the lower right corner of the screen) and selecting “Open.”  The Windows Sidebar icon looks like a computer screen with a stack or colored building blocks to its right.

      Once the sidebar is open, you can remove a gadget by right-clicking on it and selecting “Close gadget.”  Another method is to float over the gadget until a small panel appears to its right with an X and a wrench.  Click the X to close the gadget.  Click the wrench icon to change some property of the gadget.  Rearrange the gadgets in the sidebar by dragging them up or down.

      At the top of the sidebar is a small panel with a plus and two arrows.  Click the + to add gadgets to the sidebar.  Alternately, you can click on a blank space on the sidebar and select “Add gadgets.”  You will get a panel of standard gadgets to choose from.  Double-click on any gadget to add it to the current sidebar.  Some of the standard gadgets include:

  • Clock – Choose from various styles.
  • Calendar – Shows the current day.  Click to show the whole month and scroll to other months.
  • Notes – Allows you to create “sticky notes” on your screen for reminders, etc.
  • Contacts – Like a quick address book.
  • CPU meter – Shows how busy your computer’s processor and RAM are.

      You can also search for extra gadgets by clicking the link “Get more gadgets on-line” at the lower right of the gadgets panel.  This takes you to a Microsoft which features gadgets.  There is a list of Top Rated and Top Downloads.  Click on an item that interests you to see a description.  Follow instructions on the screen to download and install the gadget.  I found a useful one called “Super Search Bar” which searches the internet and then opens a browser window with the results.    

By Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 1-13-08