The Windows 7 sidebar contains gadgets to display significant information live. This has been replaced by Store apps in Windows 10 or 8.1. The sidebar gadgets feature was introduced in the release phase around July 22nd, 2009. As time went by acceptance grow to these gadgets.
You used to get Windows 7 gadgets online officially from Microsoft website. But they have been removed and are no longer available.
In the later years, third-party websites started releasing new gadgets. But with the advent of Windows 8.1 and 10, apps have replaced gadgets. Just like Apple Store and Google Playstore, there is Microsoft store to download apps.
The main reason was that it posed a security threat to Windows 7 core OS and had access to system settings. Though Windows 7 life cycle ends by Jan 2020, it has a majority share among Windows users after Windows 10.
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9 Trusted Windows 7 Gadgets available as of July 2019
Even in the latest stable release of SP1 and version 7601, gadgets still work and some are available by default. Let’s see those gadgets which are available by default when gadget platform is enabled.
You can access these trusted and stable gadgets from Control Panel or right-click Desktop.
3. CPU Meter
5. Feed Headlines
6. Picture Puzzle
7. Slide Show
9. Windows Media Center
How to Fix Windows 7 default Weather Gadget
But many of the widgets are not working properly. The Weather widget displays an error that it “Cannot connect to service“. When you use the gear icon to change the settings and enter location, it does not work out.
In some forums in 2015, it is mentioned that this problem can be overcome by using the following tip.
Navigate to the following path.
Just enter the above path in Run dialog box or in Windows Explorer. You should also make sure the hidden items are visible, with the help of Folder Options (Windows Explorer > Organize > Folder and search options > View).
I used the MSN Weather gadget as a substitute for the default weather widget. Otherwise you can download the same gadget from reputable sources which store the working versions.
10 Popular Windows 7 Gadgets that are Fun and Productive
In 2019, there are certain gadgets from trust-able sources that can be still tried. As like before, many of them are with some problems, but have features which are useful.
1. HUD Time
The default clock and widget in Windows 7 can get boring sometimes. This widget is useful if you want to display the current date and time in heads up display style. This clock gadget is transparent and works with any type of desktop background.
Using the settings menu, you can change the color of the font to suit your current background.
2. Weather Underground
It provide accurate information for local weather conditions. In addition to common weather report, you can find interactive radar, weather alerts, and satellite maps. The data reports are from a community who maintain their own backyard weather stations. Status notification, 10 day forecast, current local weather conditions, sun rise and set timing etc are other features of this widget.
3. AccuWeather Forecast
This was working 2 years ago and should have no problems. This is a good alternative for the default weather widget in Windows 7. This will show weather data only in locations of America. It does not other WordWide countries. The unit of measure can be changed to English or Metric. You can type the zip code or place to get the weather details.
4. Weather Monitor
It helps in tracking weather condition of a particular city. There are 7 tabs in the settings to suit your needs. You need to find your location code on the first tab. For example, my cite code is “ASI|IN|IN002|VISAKHAPATNAM”. Just press Enter. You will get details like Pressure, Humidity, Visibility, UV Index, Wind speed and Precipitation. You can change the units if you like.
Sunrise and Sunset can be seen. Weather details for the next 10 days can also be seen.
5. Computer Status Red
This is an useful gadget to show the details of your computer configuration. It will display CPU, RAM usage. But the details are so small, that you have to particularly look at it. You can also find the hard disk space usage. It will also display your Wi-Fi network. One major feature is that you can select one of the different radio stations to play while you work. These include Radio21, metal radio, Gotham radio, Funky Dance, Goldies, Club High, Mainstream etc.
6. Toxic Gadgets
These are a set of 4 gadgets. The computer status widget will show the system details like RAM, CPU, disk space etc. The number of items in the recycle bin are also shown. There are more number of radio stations than the previous gadget. The buffering will take a little time to hear the audio. Sound quality is not good. Clock widget will display time and date. Network Meter and Top 5 are the other gadgets.
This is an useful grammar tool. You enter a word and get its meaning instantaneously. The Thesaurus dictionary is not working as intended. It is asking for Internet connection, though the computer is connected. Pronunciation and parts of speech can also be seen.
8. Media Player
Using this gadget you can listen to your favorite songs and playlists throughout the day. It will automatically play the songs. There are two settings. 1. Shuffle and 2. Start playing on startup. You can change to next song, just like any other media player. You can pause, play and increase the sound.
This is a fun gadget which is useful to de-stress yourself. It is a small cat kind of icon waving at you. This will make you happier if you like pets. It is a Chinese app and does not have any major settings. There is nothing to play with it, as nothing happens when you click the pet icon.
10. Renamon Desktop Gadget
These Japanese characters in the gadget will make you adventurous. They are more like the pokemon cartoons we watch on TV. There are about 15 images to display. You can also set your own image as photo slider. The docked and undocked image size can be set in percentage. These look like rabbit character and are big in size to be visible.
Information about Windows 7 Gadgets in 2012 and 2013
The message from Microsoft is clear. They are not going to support Windows 7 Gadgets in the next OS. The message can be seen below.
According to “TheWindowsClub.com”, the actual reason behind removing the sidebar and gadgets was different. It appears that there were vulnerabilities in Sidebar Gadgets, and Remote Code Execution was possible which could be a secure threat to the computer.
Articles that will improve your Windows 7 information and knowledge
- Microsoft Windows Technology
- How to Create a Bootable USB Drive for Windows 7 and 8
- Windows 7 Wallpaper: Changes on Weather Conditions
In its Security Advisory 2719662, Microsoft thanked Mickey Shkatov and Toby Kohlenberg for working with them regarding this security loop hole. The two security researchers made a point that instead of sending an executable, you can just send a “sidebar gadget” to hack into your computer or do a security breach of your Windows system.
Very sooner, Microsoft recommended Windows 7 and Vista users to disable the Sidebar gadgets and also released an automated “Fix It”. The Fix It will automatically and quickly disable the Sidebar and the Desktop Gadgets. “Fix It” can be downloaded from KB2719662.
How to Disable the Windows 7 Gadgets & Sidebar Manually?
Open Control Panel > Uninstall Programs > Turn Windows Features on or off.
Here uncheck the Windows Gadget Platform and click OK. This will turn off the Windows Gadget Platform and the Gadgets. You may have to reboot. Now if you right click on the desktop, you will see that the Gadget option does not exist.
Windows Desktop Gadgets are a sort of mini-applications which are based on CSS, Script and HTML. These Windows 7 Gadgets are used to display information like CPU, RAM usage, system properties, RSS feeds or to launch and control applications. You can also use Windows 7 gadgets to display a picture slide show or view continuously updated headlines.
A Windows SideShow Gadget is one written by programming against the Windows SideShow Platform API. Windows SideShow is a technology introduced in Windows Vista that enables Windows PCs to drive a variety of auxiliary display devices connected to the main PC.
In Windows 7 you will not find Windows SideShow in the Control Panel, unlike in Vista. But the SideShow icon appears when you install a compatible device.
While in Windows Vista, the Sidebar starts multiple instances of the sidebar.exe process. In Windows 7, only one instance of the sidebar.exe process starts. Moreover, this single instance does not start until a gadget is added to the desktop.
Want to know more about Windows 7 Applications tweaks
- Application Launcher for Windows 7: Open Multiple Applications at Once
- How to Control Volume of Different Applications in Windows 7
The Gadget Picker starts, or a new user session starts with existing gadgets on the desktop. If the Gadget Picker is closed with no gadgets added to the desktop, or the last gadget is deleted from the desktop, the sidebar.exe process stops automatically.