How To Install a Windows Gadget

Install Desktop Gadgets in Windows 7 & Vista

Screenshot of the Windows 7 gadgets
List of Gadgets in Windows 7.

Windows gadgets are small programs that run on your desktop or Windows Sidebar. They can be used in Windows 7 and Windows Vista.

A Windows gadget can keep you up to date with your Facebook feed, while another might show you the current weather, and another might let you tweet right from the desktop.

Other gadgets, like these Windows 7 gadgets, can actually perform useful monitoring services like keeping track of CPU and RAM usage.

You can install a Windows gadget by executing a downloaded GADGET file, but some Windows gadget installation details differ depending on which operating system you're installing the gadget on.

Choose the correct set of steps below for specific instructions on installing gadgets on your version of Windows. See What Version of Windows Do I Have? if you're not sure which of those versions of Windows is installed on your computer.

Older Windows operating systems, like Windows XP, do not natively support desktop or sidebar gadgets. Newer versions, like Windows 10 and Windows 8, don't support gadgets either. However, many other kinds of gadgets exist that are specific to certain applications, both web based and offline.

How to Install a Windows 7 or Windows Vista Gadget

  1. Download the Windows gadget file.

    Microsoft used to catalog and host Windows gadgets but they no longer do. Today, you'll find most gadgets for Windows on software download sites and on the websites of gadget developers.

    Win7Gadgets is just one example of a website that offers free Windows gadgets like clocks, calendars, email gadgets, utilities, and games.

  2. Execute the downloaded GADGET file. Windows gadget files end in the .GADGET file extension and will open with the Desktop Gadgets application. All you have to do is double-click or double-tap the file to start the install process.

  3. Click or tap the Install button if you're prompted with a security warning that says "Publisher could not be verified".

    Most Windows gadgets are created by third party developers that do not meet Microsoft's identify verification requirements, but this does not necessarily mean that there is any security concern.

    You should always have an antivirus program installed on your computer. Having a good AV program running all the time can stop malicious programs, and virus-laden Windows gadgets, from causing any damage.

  4. Configure any necessary gadget settings. Depending on the Windows gadget you installed to the desktop, there may be certain options that need configuring. If you install a Facebook gadget, for example, the gadget will need your Facebook credentials. If you installed a battery level monitor, you may want to adjust the size or opacity of the gadget window.

More Help With Windows Gadgets

If you remove a gadget from the desktop, the gadget is still available to Windows, it's just not installed on the desktop. In other words, the gadget is still on your computer like any other program, but there just isn't a shortcut on the desktop to open the gadget.

To add a previously installed gadget back to the Windows desktop, just right-click or tap-and-hold anywhere on the desktop and click/tap on Gadgets (Windows 7) or Add Gadgets... (Windows Vista). A window will appear showing all available Windows gadgets. Just double-click/tap the gadget you want to add to the desktop or drag it there.