Gadgets were introduced in Windows Vista and continued to be available in Windows 7. They allow you to view various kinds of information from the latest news updates to the phases of the moon and use some helpful utilities all on the desktop. We have previously written about a program that allows you to use Windows 7-style gadgets in Windows XP and some utilities that allow you to download and use actual Windows 7 and Vista gadgets in Windows XP. There is even a way to use desktop widgets in Ubuntu Linux.
If you have used a Mac and like the Mac OS Dashboard widgets, we found a tool, called the Kludget Engine, that allows you to use the Mac OS Dashboard widgets in Windows and Linux.
Download the Kludget Engine from
NOTE: This post shows you how to install and use the Kludget Engine in Windows 7, but it will also work in previous versions of Windows back to 2000 and in Linux.
To install the Kludget Engine, double-click on the .exe file you downloaded.
If the Open File – Security Warning dialog box displays, click Run to continue with the installation.
The Welcome screen on the setup wizard displays. Click Next.
Read through the License Agreement and select the I accept the terms of the License Agreement check box. Click Next.
The Choose Install Location screen displays. If you want to install the Kludget Engine to a different location other than the default location listed in the edit box, use the Browse button to select another location. We accepted the default location. Click Next to continue.
The progress of the installation displays.
Once the installation is done, the Completing the Kludget Engine 1.0.0 Setup Wizard screen displays. If you want the Kludget Engine to start as soon as you close the setup wizard, select the Run Kludget Engine 1.0.0 check box so there is a check mark in it. You may also choose the Set Kludgets Search as your homepage check box, if desired. Click Finish to close the setup wizard.
The Kludget Engine comes with a Clock widget and a Calendar widget already installed. When the Kludget Engine starts for the first time, these two widgets open on top of one another on your desktop. You can easily move a widget by dragging it to another location on your desktop.
To change options for a widget, right-click on the widget and select Widget Preferences from the popup menu.
The Preferences dialog box displays. For the Clock widget, a General preferences screen is available. You can change the Theme for the clock, the Clock size, indicate whether you want the Second Hand to show, and whether you want the second hand to be Bouncy.
The Windows preferences screen is available for all widgets. You can set the Window level, the Opacity, and you can choose to make the widget display in Grayscale rather than in color.
NOTE: For some widgets, this is the only Preferences screen available if there are no options to change that are specific to each widget.
When you run the Kludget Engine, an icon is placed in the system tray providing access to features of the program. If you are using Windows 7 and you want the icon to be visible on the Taskbar, click the arrow to access the system tray and click the Customize link.
On the Notification Area Icons screen on the Control Panel, find kludgets.exe in the list of programs in the system tray. Select Show icon and notifications from the drop-down list to the right of the kludgets.exe item.
Click OK on the Notification Area Icons screen to close the Control Panel.
The Kludgets Engine icon now displays directly on the Taskbar. To find more widgets to install in the Kludgets Engine, right-click the icon and select Find more widgets from the popup menu.
You can download additional widgets from the Kludget website. There are several stock widgets you can download on the page that displays. As an example, we downloaded the Calculator stock widget. Download whatever widgets you think you might want to install.
Once you have downloaded the widget you want to install, right-click on the Kludget Engine icon in the system tray and select Open widget package from the popup menu.
The Open widget package dialog box opens to the default widgets directory in the Kludget Engine directory. This directory contains additional widgets you can install.
Navigate to the directory in which you saved your downloaded widgets, select the .zip file for the widget you want to install, and click Open.
The widget is automatically extracted and installed and displays on your desktop. Drag it to where you want it on your desktop.
Thousands of widgets are available on the web to install and try out, including the widgets available on Apple’s site. We downloaded and installed the Daily Dilbert widget from Apple’s site, which displays the Dilbert cartoon of the day.
To close a widget, right-click on the widget and select Close Widget from the popup menu.
When you close a widget, the widget is not uninstalled. It is still available and can be accessed again by right-clicking on the Kludget Engine icon and select Add widget from the popup menu. A submenu displays widgets that have been closed.
To change options for the Kludget Engine itself, right-click on the Kludget Engine icon in the system tray and select Preferences from the popup menu.
The Preferences dialog box displays with a General screen and a Network screen. Change the desired preferences and click Save to save your changes and close the dialog box. Click Cancel if you choose not to save your changes.
To close the Kludget Engine, right-click on the Kludget Engine icon on the system tray and select Exit from the popup menu.
There are a lot of widgets that will require system commands run in a Linux or Linux-like environment like Mac OS. If you are using Windows, click here for information about using Cygwin with the Kludget Engine to install widgets requiring system commands. Cygwin emulates a Linux environment in Windows.
by Lori Kaufman