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<firstimage=”//static.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Windows7.png”>The term “gadget” nowadays indicates a tech lifestyle product that is definitely stylish and probably expensive; in other words an exclusive toy. While gadgets are supposed to be entertaining, smart folks will pick gadgets that can do more than just pass the time.
This article shows you the best free Windows 7 gadgets to make your life a little easier. Use these desktop shortcuts to avoid jammed roads, quickly convert units or make simple translations, easily access programs, and generally save you some hassle and time.
Launch Control [No Longer Available]
Launch Control provides quick access to documents, programs, or anything you choose.
To add new items, simply drag them into the desired group within the gadget. You can create new custom groups or edit existing ones. To edit an entry or a group, hold the [CTRL] button as you click it and a flyout window will open. Here you can also delete the item. Apps, Utilities, and Control are the default groups, which is a great way to start.
Traffic Info is powered by Google Maps and provides information on the current road situation in most major cities. The preset list of this gadget contains a selection of cities in the USA, Canada, China, and some other selected cities. If your city isn’t listed, you can select World and manually zoom into your home region.
After selecting the area to monitor the rest is very simple. You can get a better view of the area by expanding the map in the flyout window (arrow icon in bottom right) or opening the map in Google Maps (grid icon in bottom right).
This is by far the best and most stylish unit converter I have ever seen.
First of all it’s comprehensive. You can convert length, area, volume, mass / weight, time, speed, temperature, storage data, and lots more.
And despite all the features, it’s incredibly easy to use. You simply drag each of the three rolls into the desired position using your mouse and enter the value to be converted at the bottom. Et voilÃ !
The flyout window shown in the screenshot above demonstrates how the tool works and explains how very large or very small numbers are displayed.
I Forgot The Milk [No Longer Available]
Those of you using Remember The Milk will love this gadget.
After installation, you must first activate the gadget. Click on the > Options icon next to the gadget and in the window that opens click the > Authenticate button. This will open Remember The Milk in your browser, where you need to log in and authorize the gadget to access your lists. Back in the gadget, click > Login and in case you don’t see your lists yet, click > Reload task lists.
Now you’re ready to add new tasks via the desktop gadget. Click the little > Menu icon in the top right to add a new task, refresh the gadget, go to the RTM website, or visit the forum.
Per default, the gadget will only show tasks due within the next 7 days or tasks without a due date. To change these settings, go to the > Options window and switch to the > Others tab.
If you’re not already using Remember The Milk, there are two to do list alternatives: the three in one Desk Essentials gadget (To Do List, Notes, and Calculator) or the straight forward and very stylish (task list only) PowerDo.
Auto Translator [No Longer Available]
For the occasional translation this translator is very helpful. It supports 20 of the most common languages. Unfortunately, it tends to fail when trying to translate simple sentences. Moreover, it’s not possible to switch between a formal or informal translation, e.g. ‘vous’ or ‘tu’ in French, ‘Sie’ or ‘Du’ in German etc.
I did test the equivalent translator powered by Google and it didn’t do any better.
Toggle Hidden Files
Toggle Hidden Files does just as it says for all folders and files in Windows Explorer.
You might have to refresh the respective folder to see the changes.
Drag&Drop and Print [No Longer Available]
When you want to print a single document that’s already open, you can simply click [Ctrl] + [P]. But as soon as you want to print more than one document or a document you don’t really want to open first, this process becomes a hassle.
With Drag&Drop and Print you can simply drag any selection of documents onto the gadget, and it will open the printer menu for each one of them. The gadget does not require any setting up, only that your printer/s must be installed and ready to go.
There is always more. MakeUseOf has previously covered Windows 7 desktop gadgets and there have been a few that might also make your life easier. Have a look at the couple of gadgets we introduced in more detail:
The 7 Best Windows 7 Gadgets by Matt
CPU meter, network monitor, drives monitor, Facebook and Twitter Explorer, SkypeGadget, and Doppler RadLoop.
Clipboard manager, MiniTV, Ultimate Explorer, NASA TV, Weather Underground, Colour Picker, and Magic Folder.
Which Windows 7 gadget do you use most often?