Windows Sidebar and gadgets (overview)

Windows Sidebar is a long, vertical bar that is displayed on the side of your desktop. It contains mini-programs called gadgets, which offer information at a glance and provide easy access to frequently used tools. For example, you can use gadgets to display a picture slide show, view continuously updated headlines, or look up contacts.

Picture of Windows Sidebar and gadgets
Sidebar and gadgets

Why use Sidebar?

Sidebar can keep information and tools readily available for you to use. For example, you can display news headlines right next to your open programs. This way, if you want to keep track of what's happening in the news while you work, you don't have to stop what you're doing to switch to a news website.

With Sidebar, you can use the Feed Headlines gadget to show the latest news headlines from sources you choose. You don't have to stop working on your document, because the headlines are always visible. If you peripherally see a headline that interests you, you can click that headline, and your web browser will open directly to the story.

To open Sidebar

  • Open Windows Sidebar by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking All Programs, clicking Accessories, and then clicking Windows Sidebar.

To keep Sidebar visible at all times, you must set it so that other windows won't cover it. The Sidebar width is a fixed size.

To keep windows from covering Sidebar

Because of the space Sidebar requires, this option works best if you're using a large or wide-screen monitor or multiple monitors.

  1. Open Windows Sidebar properties by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Appearance and Personalization, and then clicking Windows Sidebar Properties.

  2. Select the Sidebar is always on top of other windows check box.

  3. Click OK.

Getting started with gadgets

Windows comes with a small collection of gadgets, but only some of them appear on Sidebar by default. To understand how to use gadgets, let's explore three gadgets that you'll see on Sidebar when you first start Windows: the Clock, Slide Show, and Feed Headlines.

How does the Clock work?

When you point to the Clock gadget, two buttons will appear near its upper-right corner: the Close button—which is the top button—and the Options button.

Picture of the Clock gadget
The Clock

Clicking the Close button removes the Clock from Sidebar. The button below the close button displays options for naming the clock, changing its time zone, and showing its second hand.

Note

  • Not all gadgets have an Options button. Gadgets without an Options button don't have settings that can be changed.

How does Slide Show work?

Next try resting the pointer on the Slide Show gadget, which displays a continuous slide show of pictures on your computer.

Picture of the Slide Show gadget
Slide Show

When you point to Slide Show, the Close and Options buttons will appear near the upper-right corner of the gadget.

Clicking the Options button allows you to choose which pictures appear in your slide show, control the speed at which your slide show plays, and change the transition effect between pictures.

Hiển thị tất cả

To change the slide show pictures

By default, Slide Show displays items in the Sample Pictures folder.

  1. Point to Slide Show, and when the Options button appears, click it.

  2. In the Folder box, select the location of the pictures you want to display.

  3. Click OK.

To set the slide show speed and transition effect

  1. Point to Slide Show, and when the Options button appears, click it.

  2. In the Show each picture list, select the number of seconds to show each picture.

  3. In the Transition between pictures list, select the transition you want.

  4. Click OK.

How does Feed Headlines work?

Feed Headlines can display frequently updated headlines from a website that supplies feeds, also known as RSS feeds, XML feeds, syndicated content, or web feeds. Websites often use feeds to distribute news and blogs. To receive feeds, you need an Internet connection. By default, Feed Headlines won't display any headlines. To start displaying a small set of preselected headlines, click View headlines.

Picture of the Feed Headlines gadget
Feed Headlines

When you point to Feed Headlines, the Close and Options buttons will appear near the upper-right corner of the gadget. Clicking the Options button allows you to choose from a list of available feeds. You can add to the list by choosing your own feeds from the web.

Hiển thị tất cả

To choose a feed from the web with Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer, a web browser included with Windows, looks for feeds on every webpage you visit.

  1. Open Internet Explorer by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Internet Explorer.

  2. Browse to a webpage that has feeds.

    (When Internet Explorer finds available feeds, the Feeds button Picture of the Feeds button, located on the Internet Explorer toolbar, will change from gray to orange.)
  3. Click the arrow next to the Feeds button, and then, in the list that appears, click the feed you want.

  4. On the webpage that appears, click Subscribe to this feed.

  5. In the dialog box that appears, click Subscribe.

    The feed should now be available to Feed Headlines. To display the feed in Feed Headlines, see the procedure below.

To display a feed in the Feed Headlines gadget

  1. Point to Feed Headlines, and then click the Options button.

  2. In the Display this feed list, click the feed you want to display.

  3. Click OK.

Note

  • To scroll through the headlines, point to Feed Headlines, and then click the downward- or upward-pointing arrows that appear on the bottom edge.

Which gadgets do I have?

Before a gadget can be added to Sidebar, it must be installed on your computer. To see which gadgets are installed on your computer:

  1. At the top of Sidebar, click the plus sign (+) to open the Gadget Gallery.

    Picture of the Add Gadget button
    Add Gadget button
  2. Click the scroll buttons to see all the gadgets.

  3. Click a gadget, and then click Show details to see information about it at the bottom of the dialog box.

Picture of the Windows Sidebar Gadget Gallery
The Gadget Gallery

You can download additional gadgets from the web. To find gadgets online, go to the Microsoft Gadgets website.

Adding and removing gadgets

You can add any installed gadget to Sidebar. If you want, you can add multiple instances of a gadget. For example, if you are keeping track of time in two time zones, you can add two instances of the Clock gadget and set the time of each accordingly.

Hiển thị tất cả

To add a gadget to Sidebar

  1. At the top of Sidebar, click the plus sign (+) to open the Gadget Gallery.

    Picture of the Add Gadget button
    Add Gadget button
  2. Double-click a gadget to add it to Sidebar.

To remove a gadget from Sidebar

  • Right-click the gadget, and then click Close Gadget.

Organizing gadgets

You can organize your gadgets in any of several ways:

  • You can keep all of the gadgets attached to Sidebar.

  • You can change the display order of gadgets in Sidebar. To do this, drag a gadget to a new position.

  • You can keep some gadgets attached to Sidebar and place some on the desktop.

  • You can detach all of the gadgets from Sidebar and place them on the desktop. If you organize your gadgets this way, you might want to close Sidebar.

Hiển thị tất cả

To place a gadget on the desktop

You can detach gadgets from Sidebar and place them anywhere on the desktop.

  • To detach a gadget from Sidebar, drag it to the desktop. To reattach the gadget, drag it to any part of Sidebar.

Tip

  • If you have trouble dragging a gadget, you might need to drag from a different part of the gadget, such as an edge or corner.

To close Sidebar

You might want to close Sidebar if you detach all the gadgets from it.

  • Right-click Sidebar, and then click Close Sidebar. To open Sidebar again, right-click the Sidebar icon Picture of the Windows Sidebar program icon in the notification area of the taskbar, and then click Open.

For more information about customizing Sidebar, see Customize Windows Sidebar.