in the Windows 11, there’s a new widgets button on the system tray that opens a menu with quick access to weather, traffic, news, sports scores, and more. This is how it works.
What is a widget anyway?
In computer software, a widget is usually a small graphical app designed to quickly get information such as weather, sports scores, and news. Widgets are often (but not always) presented separately from regular apps in an operating system, sometimes on their own screen or in their own sidebar or menu. They often run in the background while you perform other tasks, so you can quickly review them without waiting for a large application to load.
In Windows Vista and Windows 7 Microsoft calls widgets “gadgets” and presented them in a special Windows sidebar app. They were never very popular and at some point got the ax because of safety concerns. In Windows 11, widgets work differently and live in a special menu that can be accessed from the system tray.
How to access widgets in Windows 11
To access the Widgets menu in Windows 11, click the Widgets button on the system tray. It looks like a blue rectangle with rounded white and cyan rectangles inside.
After clicking the button on the system tray, the Widgets menu will appear. A variety of widgets are shown by default – usually weather, stocks, sports scores, photos, or traffic.
At the very top, a search in the search bar will open a Bing web search in the Edge browser. Below the widgets, you’ll see a section for Bing News that you currently can’t turn off.
Here is a list of the widgets currently available in the initial Windows 11 Insider Preview:
- Weather: Your current weather conditions and a forecast.
- Observation list: A list of current stock values. You can add ticker symbols to customize the list.
- Calendar: A small calendar that shows the current daily and weekly outlook as well as upcoming events.
- Do: A to-do list where you can add and check off items when they’re complete.
- Photos: Displays photos associated with your Microsoft account in a small box.
- Tips: This shows tips to help you use Windows 11 and Microsoft apps like Edge better.
- Sports: Current sports results and results. You can enter a team name to customize the list.
- Traffic: Displays a small overhead map showing the traffic conditions in your area.
- Entertainment: A list of recent releases associated with a movie or TV show that you can buy from the Microsoft Store.
- Sports: The latest esports scores and results.
Microsoft could remove some of these widgets or add more before Windows 11 is fully released in Fall 2021. Third-party widgets might be available, but Microsoft has not yet provided details on how this might work.
Configuring the widgets menu in Windows 11
To add a widget to the menu in Windows 11, you can either click your profile avatar in the top right corner of the widgets menu, or scroll down and click the “Add Widgets” button.
A Widget Settings window opens where you can add (but not remove) widgets from the menu. Click in the list “Add widgets” on the widgets you want to add.
From this menu you can also manage your widget menu news feed by clicking on “Manage your news and interests” at the bottom of the window. This will open special MSN website in the Edge browser, where you can choose topics you might want to read about. When you’re done, close the Edge browser and close the window “Widget settings”.
To remove widgets from the menu, click the three-dot menu with the ellipses in the upper right corner of the widget you want to remove. Select from the menu that appears “Remove widget”.
You can also use the same three-dot menu to customize widgets (e.g. add stocks, sports teams, or change your weather location) and change the size of the widgets in the widget menu. To close the Widgets menu when you are done, click outside the menu or click the Widgets button in the system tray again.
To remove the widget button from your system tray, right-click the widget icon and choose Hide From System Tray. To restore it, right-click the system tray and choose System Tray Settings, then toggle the switch next to “Widgets” in the “System Tray Items” section to “On”.
“Messages and Interests” taskbar menu that recently debuted in Windows 10. It seems pretty rough, and it also seems to be specifically designed to direct Windows users to Microsoft products like Bing, MSN News, and Edge. It still has a lot of time to improve – possibly by allowing non-Microsoft services on the widget bar – but time will tell.