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.

As of January 2020, Microsoft is no longer supporting Windows 7. We recommend upgrading to Windows 10 to continue receiving security updates and technical support.

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.

How to Install a Windows 7 or Windows Vista Gadget

The compartmentalized nature of gadgets for these older operating systems makes running new gadgets a breeze.

  1. Download the Windows gadget file.

    Microsoft used to catalog and host Windows gadgets. Today, you'll find most gadgets for Windows on software download sites and on the websites of gadget developers.

    Win7Gadgets 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 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 developers who do not meet Microsoft's identify verification requirements, but this situation 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. 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 select Gadgets (Windows 7) or Add Gadgets (Windows Vista). A window shows all available Windows gadgets.