How to Customize a Gadget in Windows 7

By Greg Harvey

As anyone who has built an iGoogle page full of gadgets knows, gadgets can be great fun. But most gadgets are generic and need to be customized. In fact, the more you can customize the content to suit your needs, the better they work. Windows 7 gives you several options for controlling your gadget content.

To customize the contents of a gadget, position the mouse pointer in the upper-right corner of the gadget and then click the wrench icon that appears immediately beneath the X. Windows 7 then opens a dialog box full of customization options specific to that gadget.

Alternatively, you can also right-click its icon and then choose Options from the shortcut menu.

Customization can take many forms. For example, the Feed Headlines gadget can be customized so that it displays the headlines for a particular RSS feed.

Take a look at the Clock gadget. If you open the settings dialog box for the Clock gadget, you can see the following options:

  • Select a new clock face by clicking either the Next or Previous button (the ones with the triangles pointing right and left, respectively).

  • Enter a clock name (such as London or Beijing) in the Clock Name text box.

  • Select the appropriate time zone for the clock from the Time Zone drop-down list.

    By default, this analog clock automatically displays the same time as the digital time display in the notification area of the Windows 7 taskbar.

  • Choose the Show the Second Hand check box if you want the Clock gadget to display a moving red second hand.

    The customization options are unique to each gadget.
    The customization options are unique to each gadget.

In addition to customizing what information appears in a gadget (as in the RSS feed headlines shown in the Feed Headlines gadget), you can also customize the look of a gadget by controlling it’s opacity. Gadget are automatically displayed as 100-percent solid; however, you can make any gadget more transparent by changing the gadget’s opacity.

To modify the opacity of a gadget, right-click the gadget and then highlight the Opacity item on its shortcut menu. Choose the new opacity percentage you want to use in the submenu. You can choose 20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, or 100%. The lower the percentage, the more transparent the gadget is.

The opacity of the clock on the right is 100%; the clock on the left has an opacity of 40%.
The opacity of the clock on the right is 100%; the clock on the left has an opacity of 40%.