Our Favorite Microsoft Windows Gadgets
With the arrival of Microsoft Windows 7, more and more of the separate programs that are off to the side, known as the ‘sidebar’ from Windows Vista, are making a comeback or are being updated with Windows 7 in mind.
The sidebar and the gadgets that go within them was first introduced to Windows users with the purchase of one of the versions of Windows Vista. In that, small programs ran in the background and were stuck to one side of the screen (usually the right). With Windows 7, users are now able to move their gadgets anywhere on the screen, a bonus for those who use more than one monitor during their daily work.
But with so many different gadgets for many different things, it may seem near impossible to pick one that will work for you. Here’s a list of the some sidebar gadgets that this writer enjoys and uses daily.
System and Entertainment
Like many users, my computer isn’t just for work; I watch movies and TV shows, play video games, listen to music, etc and these gadgets are ones that I find to be very helpful within my daily computer use. All gadgets listed can be found on the Microsoft Gallery.
- Outlook Info 2.1.2 - If you’re a user of Outlook, having this gadget is helpful for keeping you up to date, especially if you like to minimize windows. It’s set up to read the mail you have, as well as any unread items; it can display calendar appointments and any tasks you have coming up. It also works when Outlook is closed.
- Launch Control v1.5 - I personally like the new taskbar for Windows 7; unfortunately, I also work with a lot of programs that don’t fit on that bar. Here’s where this gadget comes in handy. It’s customizable to launch any program you choose; think of it as the Quick Launch feature that is in previous versions of Windows. This makes it easier to launch programs that may not be on the taskbar or the desktop and it stops from looking it up within the Start menu.
- Remote Desktop Gadget 2.1 - Something new I just came across, but for those users who need to remote into their computers, this is a good find. This gadget allows you to enter in the remote IP before launching a remote window for you. It also saves previously entered IP addresses, in case you need to remote to more than one. It’s a nice handy feature that can be accessed right from the desktop instead of searching for it through the Start Menu.
- Twitter Explorer 1.0. - From the folks at Build A Gadget, this is for all the Tweeters out there. Out of the Twitter gadgets I’ve tried, this one - in my opinion - is the best. It literally is like a mini Twitter on your desktop, where you can receive new tweets, post tweets, reply, direct message people. If you just need to Tweet off and on (or during the day), this is a great gadget to have. There is also a gadget for users of Facebook by the same company.
- Pandora Radio - With this gadget, you can listen to music while sitting at your desk. It requires a Pandora account, but like the music, it’s free and your account goes with you. For those with smart phones, check the mobile version.
- Hulu Widget - From the great people at Hulu, the Hulu Widget allows you to watch your shows from the comfort of your sidebar. With this, you can search for the top or updated shows or enter in shows you want to watch. Then sit back and enjoy.
This is just a small list of the gadgets that can be found at the Microsoft Gallery and only a small list of the gadgets I use. Check out the main site to find gadgets that work with you and your system.