No Windows 8 Desktop Gadgets? Try these two tools to get them back!

Melanie Gross
Aug 26, 2012
Updated • May 17, 2014
Windows, Windows 8

One of the features missing in Microsoft's latest operating system Windows 8 is desktop gadget support. Gadgets are programs that make their functionality directly available on the desktop. They were first introduced in Windows Vista limited to a sidebar area on the desktop, and then improved under Windows 7 where they can be placed anywhere on the screen. Microsoft recently released a security advisory that suggested to disable Windows Sidebar and Gadgets to protect the operating system against security vulnerabilities that exploit the feature.

Microsoft in addition has retired the official gadget directory on the Microsoft website, and removed options to install gadgets on its newest operating system Windows 8.

While there is no official option to add desktop gadget support back to the operating system, there are two unofficial ways to do so. Before you start to install one of the alternatives, I'd like to point out that you should scan the solutions with up to date antivirus software and create a backup of your system before you do so to avoid any issues. At least one solution adds the Windows 8 Release Preview gadgets system to the final version of Windows 8.

windows 8 desktop gadgets

1. Windows Sidebar / Gadgets for Windows 8 RTM

The first solution was posted on the My Digital Life forum a few weeks ago. This uses the gadget files from the Windows 8 Release Preview to make the Windows Sidebar feature available under the final version of Windows 8. Just download the 32-bit or 64-bit version of the pack to your computer, extract them all to the Windows\system32\ folder and run the install.cmd file afterwards to install the desktop gadget support on the system again.

2. Windows 8 Desktop Gadgets

This second package comes with an installer that you can run on your system. I have found it referenced on Mike's blog, the download points directly to a file hosted on a Russian forum. I could not locate the actual forum thread the file was posted on, and would be very cautious before you install it on your system. One option would be to install it first in a virtual environment with detailed installation logging for a listing of all modifications that are made on the system.#

3. 8Gadget Pack

This one is brand new, has been released a few days ago. It ships with an installer that is compatible with 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 8 as long as the interface language is Chinese, English, French, German or Japanese. The installer will re-add the original Microsoft gadget files and settings that have been part of the beta of Windows 8. In addition, it ships with about 20 different popular gadgets that you can install right away on the system without having to go gadget hunting on the web first.

You can alternatively install a desktop customization tool like Rainmeter which ships with a set of gadgets by default. While that won't give you support for native Windows desktop gadgets, it is something that may replace the gadgets that you ran under previous versions of Windows and want to have available at your disposal under Windows 8 as well.

How to add gadgets to Windows 8
Article Name
How to add gadgets to Windows 8
Microsoft retired gadgets in Windows 8, but there are ways to restore the gadget functionality.

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  1. Nina S said on October 4, 2013 at 8:26 am

    I prefer to use the “Gadgets Revived” package because it has intergation
    with Control Panel and search. No one of mentioned installers provide
    such option. Also, that project has very huge gadgets gallery. Gadgets

  2. tony said on November 29, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    avast is reporting that the installer includes malware and wouldn’t install it.

  3. Anonymous said on November 4, 2012 at 5:56 am

    The best way to get the start button back in win 8 is to install classic shell. It’s free and puts a customizable start button that’s better than all previous microsoft start buttons.

  4. Mark Collins said on September 5, 2012 at 9:45 pm
    1. atticus said on October 24, 2012 at 6:36 pm

      coool!!!! thanks!!!!!!!

  5. ilev said on August 28, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Trick to bring back the start menu button, and easier shutdown in Metro

  6. ilteriÅŸ Mutlu said on August 28, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Thank you for your good solutions. The first one is ok :)

  7. John Hallquist said on August 28, 2012 at 5:36 am

    It’s unfortunate that we see more good things taken away from the Microsoft Operating System. It would have been nice that if instead of getting rid of gadgets they improved their security standards so that all gadgets complied with operating system security principles. Oh well…I love Windows 7 and will keep it.

  8. Paula said on August 27, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    Great I hope it works!

  9. ilev said on August 27, 2012 at 8:11 am

    A Windows 8 question.
    Is there a Windows8-RTM-UpgradeAssistant.exe stand-alone download
    as was for Windows 8 RP (Windows8-ReleasePreview-UpgradeAssistant.exe) ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 27, 2012 at 8:50 am

      I was not able to locate one yet, but would love to get my hands on a standalone.

  10. Beach Bouy said on August 27, 2012 at 2:31 am

    Yes. It is mentioned in the last sentence of the first paragraph.

    1. Scott said on August 27, 2012 at 2:33 am

      DOH !

  11. BobbyPhoenix said on August 27, 2012 at 1:08 am

    @Scott The real reason MS removed them was because they want everyone to use “Not Metro” tiles. Those who use gadgets will miss them, and MS thinks the tiles will make users want to use the “Not Metro” interface since they can’t use the gadgets anymore. MS is doing everything against what the consumer wants with this experiment they call Windows 8. Please MS just give us the options to boot to desktop. Use gadgets. Use a start button. Use Aero Glass. And most of all just let us be. If it’s not broke don’t fix it. Don’t change things just to change them. Windows 7 is perfect.

    1. Davud said on December 1, 2012 at 8:59 pm

      Use Start8 to regain total functionality

    2. Matt said on October 24, 2012 at 12:05 am

      By the way old grandmas area also adverse to change.

      1. John said on February 25, 2013 at 2:35 am

        Absolutely being forced into 8 by Microsoft. Just bought a new computer today, and am NOT liking the transition.

    3. Matt said on October 24, 2012 at 12:03 am

      Excuse me, but nobody is forcing you to use Windows 8. Carry on.

      1. Mark said on December 3, 2012 at 7:10 am

        “Excuse me, but nobody is forcing you to use Windows 8. Carry on.”

        Most computer manufacturers are forcing you to use Windows 8.

  12. Scott said on August 26, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    Wasnt there a recent security issue with desktop gadgets and Microsoft pulled them because of that ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 27, 2012 at 8:48 am

      Yes, that is correct.

      1. Nick said on December 7, 2012 at 7:18 am

        No, actually it isn’t right. The gadget system itself has no security issues. The “problem” is that by installing a gadget you give it full access to your computer — just like any programs you download. That’s all there was to it.

        BobbyPheonix has it right. Gadgets were dropped from Windows and the gadget gallery discontinued for only ONE reason: to force people towards Metro. That’s it.

      2. Yue Ling said on February 4, 2019 at 4:41 am

        It actually has security issues. Hackers can attack your computer even through legit gadgets.

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