Demo: Getting the most out of your Sidebar

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Watch this demo to learn how to get the most out of your Sidebar by adding and customizing your favorite gadgets.



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I spend my day sitting at my desk, writing. And that means I tend to stare at this computer screen for hours on end. It's actually a lot more fun than it used to be now that I've upgraded to Windows Vista and I get to use the new Sidebar. Now the Sidebar sits on the side of the screen and it has lots of little mini-programs in it that are called gadgets. These gadgets give me all sorts of information. Some of it's useful, some of it's just for fun, but it all sits on the side of the screen, where I can easily see it, just to the side of whatever main program I happen to be using.

Hi. I’m Dave Johnson. I'm a writer on the Windows team here at Microsoft, and today, I’m going to show you how to get the most out of your new Sidebar.

Your Sidebar is probably already open. But if you can't see it, go ahead and open it from the Start menu.

If you want the Sidebar to open automatically, you can set that option in the Sidebar Properties, which you can access from the notification area (sometimes called the "System Tray").

The Sidebar usually stays here on the right side of the screen, but you can move it to the left side, if that’s what you prefer.

A few sample gadgets come with the Sidebar, and you can add more. There are literally hundreds of gadgets available, which do all sorts of different things. There are gadgets that can show your e–mail and appointments. There are weather forecasting gadgets, Internet searches, you can hear your voicemail from your cell phone, and even play simple little games. And they’re all free.

Click this plus sign to see all the Gadgets installed on your computer. To use one of them, just drag it to the Sidebar, like this.

And there’s a lot more where they came from. Click Get more gadgets online to visit the Gadgets website. Browse the gadgets, read the descriptions. When you see one you like, click Download and follow the directions to have it appear in your Sidebar.

If you open more gadgets than fit on the Sidebar at once, you can use these arrows to see all your gadgets, as if you were flipping pages in a book.

So far, so good. Now you know how to display your favorite gadgets in the Sidebar. But did you know that you can actually customize some of these gadgets, as well?

You can click the X to close a gadget that you don’t want to see in the Sidebar anymore. (Remember, you can always drag it back in again later if you want to.)

When you move the mouse over a gadget, a few little icons appear. Use this dotted rectangle to drag a gadget around to rearrange it in your Sidebar.

And you can click the little wrench to change the gadget settings. You might be able to control the color or the style of the gadget, for instance. If it’s a weather forecast gadget like this one, you might need to enter your city or zip code. Remember, though, if you ever close a gadget, you’ll have to customize it again later, the next time you add it to the Sidebar.

I honestly can’t remember how I used to get by before the Sidebar. Now it’s always on the side of the screen, ready to tell me about my next meeting, whether I need to bring an umbrella to get to work, what the traffic looks like on the way home, and it even offers to help me pass the time with a quick little game. So, if you excuse me, I've got some asteroids to blast.