Windows 7 : Using Desktop Gadgets (part 1) - Using the Calendar gadget

1/16/2011 3:53:10 PM
Desktop gadgets are small applications designed to perform a very specific function, such as providing a desktop calendar or virtual notepad. Unlike in Windows Vista, you add gadgets directly to the desktop and no longer need a separate sidebar.

1. Getting to Know Your Computer’s Gadgets

Windows has several default gadgets in most installations. You add gadgets to the desktop using the Gadget Gallery dialog box, shown in Figure 1. To access this dialog box, click Programs in Control Panel and then click Desktop Gadgets. Alternatively, click Start, point to All Programs, and then click Desktop Gadget Gallery.

Figure 1. Working with your computer’s gadgets

The Gadget Gallery shows all the gadgets that are available on your computer. When multiple pages of gadgets are available, you can navigate the pages using the Previous and Next Page buttons provided in the upper-left corner of the window. You can also use the Search box to search for gadgets by name. As you type your search text, the list of gadgets is automatically filtered to include only those gadgets matching the search text you entered.

In the lower-left corner of the Gadget Gallery window, you’ll find a Show details/Hide details button used to show or hide a Details pane. Clicking a gadget with the Show Details pane expanded displays the gadget details, which include the gadget name, version, and description. Clicking and dragging a gadget moves it to the desktop. Or, you can double-click the gadget to add it to the right-side of the desktop.

You can visit Microsoft’s Gadget Gallery on the Internet by clicking either of the links provided. Some gadgets are updated automatically when new versions become available as part of the standard Windows Update process. Other gadgets you must update manually by downloading the desired gadget update.

You can work with gadgets in a variety of ways. You can move them around the desktop by clicking and dragging to move it to different locations on the desktop. You can display a gadget on top of all other windows by right-clicking the gadget and selecting Always on Top. Once you’ve moved the gadget to the top, right-clicking the gadget and selecting Always on Top a second time clears the setting and makes the gadget work like any other window—it can be brought to the front when in use or put to the back when not in use.

Every gadget has an opacity setting that controls whether you can see through it. Because the default opacity setting is 100 percent, you can’t see through gadgets by default. If you want to be able to see through a gadget, right-click it, point to Opacity, and then select the desired opacity. The lower the opacity setting is, the more translucent the gadget will appear to be and the better you’ll be able to see what’s behind it. The higher the opacity setting is, the less translucent the gadget will appear to be and the less you’ll be able to see what’s behind it.

Now let’s take a closer look at the gadgets you’ll probably use the most.


The Feed Headlines gadget displays data from selected Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds that have been configured in Internet Explorer. RSS feeds can contain news headlines, lists, and other information.

1.1. Using the Calendar gadget

Anyone who likes to keep a calendar on his or her desk to show the day of the week and day of the month will love the Calendar gadget. This gadget displays a desktop calendar that you can drag around the desktop.

You can work with the gadget in a variety of ways. As the leftmost view in Figure 2 shows, the current day and date are displayed by default. If you click the calendar, you can view the current month. You can view other months in the calendar using the right-facing and left-facing arrow buttons.

Figure 2. Navigating the Calendar gadget views

To display the day and date view for a particular entry, click it. The tab in the lower-left corner and the color of the view indicate that you are not viewing the current day and date. You can return to the current day and date view by clicking the tab in the lower-left corner of the calendar.

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