You can now add gadgets directly to a Windows 7 desktop. Windows gadgets are little desktop programs that can interact with you, with Windows, with files and folders, with your network, and with other gadgets.

Microsoft introduced gadgets in Windows Vista, but there weren’t that many interesting gadgets, and they had to be docked into a Sidebar. Windows 7 improves on gadgets significantly. Now, gadgets live on the desktop — and they aren’t as prone to hobbling or even bringing down your computer as they were before (although the Windows Media Center gadget sucks up cycles as eagerly as the media center itself does).


Right-click an empty place on the desktop and choose Gadgets from the pop-up menu that appears.

Windows 7 lists its stock gadgets. In the Gadgets window, scroll to look through the built-in gadgets.


To add one to your desktop, simply drag it onto your desktop.

When you drag the gadget onto the desktop, you see three or four controls to the right of the gadget. (If you don't see them, hover your cursor pointer over the gadget and they'll appear.) For many gadgets, you'll need to start with the gadget settings option to customize it to your specific needs and desires.


To peruse more gadgets, click the Get More Gadgets Online link.

You’re transported to the Windows 7 Personalize Your PC page, which lists Gadgets galore. Whether you need something to track your eBay bids, search for Xbox cheats, hook into Windows Live Messenger, or give you a quick look at Twitter or Facebook, you’ll find it here. Microsoft makes some of these Gadgets, but many come from outside sources.

Like most Microsoft sites, this one tries to sell you stuff you don’t necessarily want, so make sure to read the fine print before you download a gadget. Don't worry; there are a lot of great free gadgets.


When you’re done adding gadgets, click the Close (X) button to close your Web browser and then click X to close the gadget chooser.

When you close the gadget chooser, you’ll see all your new gadgets on your screen. Move them around anywhere you want and they’ll stay put.

To get rid of a gadget, just click the X in the upper-right corner.

There is some potential for security holes in the Windows 7 gadget software. Gadgets are programs that run on your computer that constantly interact with the Internet, so they can’t be completely bullet-proof. Because most gadgets are made by outside companies, the safest bet is to limit yourself to Gadgets from people and companies you trust.