Windows Vista has a new desktop feature called the Windows Sidebar.
The Sidebar contains tools, called gadgets, displayed as icons along
the right side of your screen by default (although you can make settings to
display it on the left). From the Windows Sidebar, you can quickly access
various handy features to write down great thoughts, calculate numbers, feed
online data direct to your desktop, and more. Here’s what you can do with
the Windows gadgets:
➟ Work with words and images. Notes is like an onscreen sticky notepad,
where you can jot reminders or ideas on the fly. Slide Show is a continuous
slide show of the photos in your Pictures folder.
➟ Manipulate numbers. The Windows Calculator doesn’t fit in the palm
of your hand, but it does offer a little onscreen calculator that you can
use to push numbers around. Punch numbers in by using your mouse
or keyboard instead of your finger, and you can handle even complex
calculations with ease.
➟ Play with puzzles. Two neat little puzzles, Number Puzzle and Picture
Puzzle, allow you to play games that are so tiny, even your boss won’t
notice you’re not actually working.
➟ Work with online data. The Feed Watcher and Feed Viewer allow you
to grab data from online RSS feeds (a format used for syndication of
news and other content), such as the latest news or other useful information.
Stocks and Currency Conversion provide up-to-the-minute
data on stocks and currency values.
➟ Plus a couple more gadgets. If you want to see how long it takes you
to complete one of the puzzle gadgets (or do anything else), use the
Timer gadget! The CPU Meter provides up-to-date information about
your computer processor speed and available memory.
5 Get ready to . . .
Set Up the Windows Sidebar
1. Right-click the Windows Sidebar icon on the Windows
taskbar and choose Properties to open the Windows
Sidebar Properties dialog box
2. Select the Sidebar Is Always on Top of Other Windows
check box. If you like, you can also enable Start Sidebar
When Windows Starts to ensure that the Sidebar always
displays when you start your computer.
3. Click OK and then click the Close button to close the
Control Panel window. The Sidebar appears
If you’re left handed, or have some other propensity for things on
the left, you can choose to have the Sidebar displayed on the left
side of the screen by selecting the Left radio button in the Windows
Sidebar Properties dialog box.
Once you’ve made your sidebar settings, the quickest way to display
them in the future is to click the Windows Sidebar icon on the
Add Gadgets to the Sidebar
1. With the Sidebar displayed, click the Gadgets symbol
(a plus sign) at the top of the Sidebar.
2. In the resulting Add Gadgets dialog box,
double-click a gadget (or click and drag it to the Sidebar).
If you want to view additional gadgets, click the arrows
on the Page # of # item in the top left corner of the
3. Click the Close button to close the dialog box.
Gadgets included in Windows Vista may change; if any gadgets don’t appear, click the Get More Gadgets
Online link to find and install them.
You can detach gadgets from the Sidebar and place them on the
desktop. If you then close the Sidebar, you can still work with those
desktop gadgets. To move a gadget, just click the Move button (the
bottom of the three buttons to the right of any gadget) and drag
the gadget where you want it.
If you add more gadgets than can be shown in the single Sidebar,
use the Previous and Next arrows at the top of the Sidebar to move
from one set of gadgets to the next.
Make a Note with Notes
1. Add the Notes gadget to the Sidebar (see the preceding
task) and click it.
2. Type whatever note you wish, and then
do any of the following:
• Save: Click the Add button (the plus symbol on
the note) to save the note and move on to the next
• Navigate: Click the Back arrow to move back to the
first note — or when you’ve entered more than one
note, click the Forward arrow to move to the next note.
• Delete: Click the Delete button to delete a note.
3. To change the font or color of your Notes text, click the
Settings button (the little wrench in the set of tools to
the right of any gadget).
4. In the resulting Notes window, use the
Font and Font Size fields to modify the font. Click the
arrows beneath the Notes preview to choose a different
Notes background. Click OK when you’re done.
5. Click OK to save the settings.
You can right-click the Notes gadget and use a shortcut menu to
undo, cut, copy, paste, delete, or select all the displayed note text.
You can also use shortcut key combinations for many of these, such
as Ctrl+X for Cut.
If you want two or more sets of Notes for different topics or types of
notes, just add Notes to the Sidebar a second time (see the preceding
task). Each set of Notes added can be a different color, so you can
easily keep track of which Notes pad holds which type of information.
Display a Continuous Slide Show
1. Add the Slide Show gadget to the Sidebar (see the earlier
task, “Add Gadgets to the Sidebar”) and click it.
2. Use the tools along the bottom of the slide show to do the following:
• Click the View button to display the current slide in
the Photo Gallery Viewer.
• Click Pause to stop the slide show at the current slide.
• Click Previous to go to the previous slide.
• Click Next to go to the next slide.
3. Click the Settings button. In the resulting Slide Show
dialog box, change the picture folders
to include in the slide show, or modify the number of
seconds to display each slide or a transition effect to use
4. Click OK to close the dialog box.
When you click the View button to display the current slide in Photo
Gallery Viewer, you can use tools to modify the image, print it, e-mail
it, or even create a movie.
Use the Windows Calculator
1. Add the Calculator gadget to the Sidebar.
(See the earlier task, “Add Gadgets to the Sidebar.”) You
can enter numbers and symbols in a few different ways.
• Type numbers and symbols on your keyboard. They
appear in the entry box of the calculator. Press Enter
to perform the calculation.
• Click numbers or symbols on the calculator display
and then click the = button to perform the calculation.
You can also use your keyboard to enter numbers
You can right-click gadgets and choose the Detach from Sidebar
command from the shortcut menu to move a gadget to the desktop,
rather than using the click-and-drag method. This shortcut menu also
allows you to modify the opacity of a gadget so that when you move
your mouse off it, it fades to the degree that you set the opacity.
Play with Puzzles
1. Add the Picture Puzzle gadget to the Sidebar. (See the
earlier task, “Add Gadgets to the Sidebar.”)
2. Click either of the tools along the top of the puzzle
to do the following:
• Show Picture displays the picture you’re trying to
• Solve rearranges the pieces into the picture. After you
have clicked Solve, you can click this button again
(it’s then labelled Shuffle) to rearrange the pieces.
3. To play the game, click any piece adjacent to a blank
square. It moves into the blank space. Keep clicking and
moving pieces until you get the numbers arranged in
sequence from 1 to 15 (Number Puzzle) or the picture
pieces arranged to form a picture (Picture Puzzle).
4. Click the Settings button to the right of the puzzle to
display its settings dialog box
5. Click the Previous or Next button to scroll through
available pictures for the puzzle.
6. When you find the picture you want, click OK to close
the dialog box.
1. Add the Currency Conversion gadget to the Sidebar.
(See the earlier task, “Add Gadgets to the Sidebar.”)
2. Connect to the Internet to access the latest currency rates
and do any of the following.
• Enter the number of dollars; the number of equivalent
euros is displayed.
• Click the arrow to the right of either currency and
choose another currency to convert from or to
To view the online source for the latest currency conversion rates,
click and drag the Currency gadget to the desktop and click the
Data Providers link. The MSN Money page opens. Click the Banking
tab and then click the Currency Exchange Rates link to view current
If you detach the Currency Converter from the Sidebar an Add tool
appears. Click this to select another currency to display. With this
feature you can compare multiple currencies at the same time.
Add a Feed to the Windows Sidebar
1. Add the Feed Headlines gadget to the Sidebar and click
View Headlines. (See the earlier task, “Add Gadgets to
2. Double-click a feed to display it in your browser
3. At the Web site that appears you can view blog entries,
submit an entry, or subscribe to additional feeds.
4. Click the Settings button. In the resulting Feed Viewer
dialog box, select the default feed and
the number of recent headlines to show.
5. Click OK to close the dialog box.
Use the Next and Previous arrows that appear at the bottom of the
Feed Headlines gadget when you move your mouse over it to scroll
through available feeds.
For more information about RSS feeds, click the What are Feeds?
link in the Feed Headlines settings dialog box.
Get the Latest Stock Quotes
1. Add the Stocks gadget to the Sidebar. (See the earlier
task, “Add Gadgets to the Sidebar.”) Click and drag it
to the desktop where you can view more information.
2. Connect to the Internet; stock prices and stock exchange
data are displayed.
3. Click the Search for a Stock button (a plus sign in the
bottom-right corner) and enter a stock symbol. Click
the Search button and the price is displayed.
4. Click on a stock exchange to display detailed information
about it in your browser.
5. Click the Close button to close your browser.
Click the Show Stock Graph icon (a squiggly line symbol in the
bottom-right corner of the Stocks gadget) to view a graph of activity
for the day.
Monitor Your CPU
1. Add the CPU Meter gadget to
the Sidebar. (See the earlier task, “Add Gadgets
to the Sidebar.”)
2. Use the readouts to monitor the following:
• CPU Usage monitors how hard your CPU is working
to process various programs and processes running
on your computer.
• Random Access Memory (RAM) monitors the percent
of your computer memory that is being used.
That’s about all there is to CPU Meter! You can’t make any settings
for it. It’s just a little reminder that helps you keep track of your
computer’s performance. If memory is almost at 100%, consider
freeing some space. If the CPU is at a higher percentage, odds are
you’ve got lots of programs running which could be slowing down
your computer’s performance; consider shutting some down!
If you want more detail about your computer memory usage, use
the Start menu to display the Control Panel and choose System and
Maintenance. The System links allow you to monitor the processor speed
and the amount of RAM available.