Safety tips for using Windows gadgets
Gadgets are mini programs that provide information at a glance and offer simple desktop access to tools you use most often.
For example, you can use gadgets to display weather information, news updates, or traffic maps.
Gadgets are included in Windows 7 and Windows Vista. You can also download gadgets on the Internet from other software providers.
Interested in a newer version of Windows? Learn more about Windows 8. Windows 8 replaces gadgets with apps.
Don't know what operating system you're running?
If your start button looks like this, you are running Windows Vista or Windows 7,
If your start button looks like this, you are running Windows XP
To determine whether you are running Windows 7 or Windows Vista, click the start button . In the search box type: winver and then press Enter. A dialog box displays the version of Windows 7 or Windows Vista that you are running.
In Windows 7 you can move and resize gadgets all over your desktop. In Windows Vista, gadgets are lined up on the right side of your desktop.
A malicious gadget, like any malicious software, can be programmed to access your computer's files, collect your personal information, or show you unwanted content.
To download and use gadgets safely, take the same safety precautions that you take with any other program or file you download from the web:
Do not download or run gadgets from an Administrator-level user account
When you surf the web, it's a good idea to use a limited user account, which is the default standard user configuration in Windows 7 and Windows Vista. When most programs attempt to perform a potentially dangerous operation that requires administrator privileges, Windows 7 and Windows Vista ask you for your consent before allowing that program to run. For more information, see Windows 7 Features: User Account Control or Windows Vista: What is User Account Control?
Use parental controls to keep children from downloading and installing gadgets
Windows 7 and Windows Vista include a powerful set of parental control features to help you monitor, manage, and administer your children's computer use.
You can use parental controls to block your children from downloading any file, including gadgets and other programs. For more information, see Windows 7: Parental Controls or Windows Vista: Set up Parental Controls.
Install up-to-date antivirus and antispyware software
Gadgets can contain malicious or unwanted software that tracks your activities or simply slows your computer. To help prevent downloading viruses, spyware, or other potentially unwanted software, use Microsoft Security Essentials, a no-cost download for Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.
For more information, see the Microsoft Security Essentials website.
Note: In Windows 8, Windows Defender replaces Microsoft Security Essentials. Windows Defender runs in the background and notifies you when you need to take specific action. However, you can use it anytime to scan for malware if your computer isn’t working properly or you clicked a suspicious link online or in an email message.
Keep Windows up-to-date
The easiest way to update your computer is to turn on automatic updating and use the recommended setting, which downloads recommended updates and installs them on a schedule you set. This is the best way to ensure you have the latest version of the gadgets that come with Windows 7 and Windows Vista, and that potentially vulnerable gadgets are disabled.
Uninstall Windows gadgets if you don't want to use them
You can also choose to discontinue the use of gadgets. Right-click the gadget, and then click Close Gadget.
In Windows Vista, gadgets run in Windows Sidebar. If you don't want to use it or see it, turn off Windows Sidebar entirely.
To turn off Windows Sidebar, right-click the Sidebar icon on the Windows Vista task bar , and then click Exit.
To keep Windows Sidebar from automatically starting when Windows starts, right-click the sidebar, and then click Properties. Clear the Start Sidebar when Windows starts checkbox as shown, and then click OK.