How to Install a Windows Gadget

Install desktop gadgets in Windows 7 & Vista

What to Know

  • Double-click the GADGET file to begin the installation process, or select Install if prompted.
  • Configure any necessary gadget settings.

This article explains how to install a Windows gadget, which are small programs that run on your desktop or Windows Sidebar.

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, if you don't already have it on your computer.

    Microsoft used to catalog and host Windows gadgets. Today, you'll find most of them 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 to open it with the Desktop Gadgets application. All you have to do is double-click the file to start the installation process.

    It's common for gadgets to download within an archive, such as a ZIP file. You can't simply open the ZIP and expect the gadget to be installed. Instead, you need to extract the GADGET file from the archive, and then open the GADGET file.

  3. Select Install 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 doesn't necessarily mean that there is any security concern.

    You should always have an antivirus program installed on your computer; there are plenty of free ones for Windows. 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.

Gadgets in Other Windows Versions

Older Windows operating systems, like Windows XP, do not natively support desktop or sidebar gadgets. Newer versions, like Windows 11, Windows 10, and Windows 8, don't support gadgets either.

More Help With Windows Gadgets

If you remove a gadget from the desktop, it's 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 to it on the desktop.

To add a previously installed gadget back to the Windows desktop, 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.

As of January 2020, Microsoft no longer supports Windows 7. We recommend upgrading to Windows 10 or Windows 11 to continue receiving security updates and technical support.

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