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The Most Useful Vista Sidebar Widgets

written by: hellaeric09•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 11/26/2010

Windows Vista introduced the Windows Sidebar, which is Bill Gates’ version of Yahoo! Widgets. Of course, many widgets are pretty much just eye candy and take up a lot of system resources, which slows Vista. Well, these gadgets may not speed up Vista, but it can make it worth the wait!

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    eBay Sidebar Tool

    For those of us who are addicted to eBay, some folks have developed the eBay Sidebar tool. This widget allows users to track the items they are bidding on or watching on eBay and lets you know if you’ve been outbid, the item has been sold or ended, or your feedback has changed. In addition, it’s all color-coded and you get to search through 23 eBay sites internationally.

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    Package Tracker

    If your life seems to revolve around package delivery, your homepage might be set to the USPS and/or FedEx websites. Fortunately, there’s the Package Tracker widget, which allows you to follow your package (as long as it has a tracking number) right from your Windows Sidebar. All you have to do is plug in the tracking number and name the package and the widget does the rest.

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    App Launcher

    This is simply an extension of the Quick Launch toolbar. You can drag and drop different folders, files, and programs to this Sidebar widget and click them to launch. It also allows you to add your IE or Firefox favorites.

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    Ask Windows Live

    You know those times where you and your friend are talking about some movie from the 90s and you wish you could recall the name of the movie so you could blurt it out and look smart? Well, whatever the question is, you can ask the Ask Windows Live Sidebar widget and get the answer from websites such as Wikipedia, Live QnA, MSDN, and the like in a helpful little window.

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    Traffic by Live Search Maps

    For people forever on the go, hitting unexpected traffic can be a nightmare (it’s even more of a nightmare if you actually hit the traffic). Fortunately, there’s the Traffic by Live Search Maps widget, which gives you traffic updates in real-time, not that fake-time stuff others give you (and no, fake-time doesn’t really exist; it’s a joke!). It also provides road conditions and other stuff people who drive need to know. Unfortunately, it only works for traffic in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Providence, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St Louis, Tampa, and Washington DC. If you don’t live in any of these places, you’re on your own, pal!

    And that’s pretty much it, folks! You can list your favorite widgets below, or wait for the next article in the series on the most useful Yahoo! Widgets.