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What's new with Widgets on Windows 11

Windows 11 Widgets
Windows 11 Widgets (Image credit: Windows Central)

Windows 11 comes with a new feature known as "Widgets," which has been designed to provide different types of information. For example, weather, news, sports, stocks, traffic, entertainment, Microsoft To-Do tasks, and Family Safety activities without reaching your phone to get to the same information.

The experience is similar to the "news & interests" feature already available on Windows 10. However, instead of flying out from the Taskbar, the new feature has a different interface and flies out from the left side of the screen.

In this Windows 11 guide, we will dive deep into the new Widgets experience.

Windows 11 Widgets

On Windows 11, the Widgets dashboard is accessible by clicking the dedicated "Widgets" button available in the Taskbar or using the Windows key + W keyboard shortcut. (If you are on a touch-enabled device, you can also swipe from the left edge of the screen to open the feature.)

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

As you open the dashboard, the interface slides over the desktop taking the full height and almost half of the screen with an interface that matches the new Windows 11 design language, including rounded corners and frosted glass background.

At the top, the dashboard shows you the current time, and the search box is there to perform web searches with Bing using Microsoft Edge. Also, the interface has two main parts, the widgets section and the personalized feed powered by AI to serve endless content to keep you informed.

Personal widgets

You can click and drag the widgets to rearrange them. You can click the three-dotted (More options) menu to change their size or remove a specific widget, and depending on the widget, you will find other options to customize the experience.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

If you want to customize the dashaboard, you can click the "Add widgets" button or click the profile button at the top-right of the screen.

You can add or remove widgets on the page, and you can sign in with your Microsoft account to get a more personalized experience.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Microsoft can always bring more widgets to Windows 11, but as of the time of this writing, you can select from element widgets, including:

  • Watchlist – Shows stocks information.
  • Traffic – Displays the current traffic information based on your location.
  • Esports – Presents information about gaming sports.
  • Weather – Shows the current weather information based on your location, and you click the widget, the forecast will open in the browser.
  • To Do – Displays tasks from your Microsoft To Do lists.
  • Tips – Surfaces tips to use Windows 11.
  • Sports – Shows games results and schedules.
  • Entertainment – Displays trending movies, and clicking each item will open the Microsoft Store with different ways to acquire the movie.
  • Family Safety – Brings up recent activities from members in the family group of your Microsoft account.
  • Outlook Calendar – Shows upcoming events in the calendar.
  • Photos – Shows a slideshow of pictures stored on your OneDrive account.

News widgets

The second section is where the news widgets are located. You cannot rearrange these elements, but you can click the three-dotted button to open the "See more" menu to thumb up or down the content to tell the feed that you want more or fewer stories from the same topic. If you don't like a particular news outlet, you can choose the "Hide stories from" option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

You can also add comments, react by adding an emoji and bookmark the story for later viewing. The stories you save will be collected on the "My Saves" page in your MSN account.

If you want to personalize your feed further, you can click the profile button in the top-right corner and click the "Manage your news and interests" option to access the "My Interests" page to follow or unfollow content.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Remove Taskbar Widget button

Since you can access the Widgets dashboard more quickly using a keyboard shortcut or swiping gesture, you can remove the dedicated button from the Taskbar by right-clicking it and selecting the Hide from Taskbar option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Alternatively, you add or remove the button from Settings > Personalization > Taskbar and turning on or off the Widgets toggle switch under the "Taskbar items" section.

The feature is part of the system. As a result, there isn't an option to disable it altogether. You can only remove the button from the Taskbar. However, signing out of your Microsoft account will disable all the widgets in the dashboard.

Overall the intention of the Widgets dashboard is good, but there are things that Microsoft could have done differently. For example, you are limited to the widgets provided by the company, you have to be signed in with a Microsoft account to use it, and some tasks like changing settings and viewing content require stepping out of the experience and use the web browser.

More Windows resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10 and Windows 11, visit the following resources:

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.

10 Comments
  • Here's a question: Do any of these widgets launch their respective apps when clicked on our tapped? That would actually be useful. But it sounds like this isn't the case.
  • They launch the web experience (weather, news etc). So somewhat useful but less so.
  • That is way less useful. What a load of crap! Live Tiles actually are better. Thanks for letting me know though.
  • For some reason I can't get my calendar widget to work. It says that it's not supported for this account - but I have multiple, including a MS account with a calendar. Then there is a button to learn more, but the link is broken.
  • I have the same problem. The widget calendar does not show all my calendars or appointments. Same with the calendar at the bottom right corner of the taskbar. Can't add my various work accounts, can't add anything actually. Kind of useless. And my To Do widget is also broken and doesn't display correctly.
  • I wonder if Microsoft has a public API out there for developers to be able to create widgets of their own. Or at least plans of making it accessible to developers at some point in the future. Thanks for the synopsis on the feature!
  • Somebody said it is planned just not in this first release of Windows 11, and it is clearly in its infancy. I would prefer for Microsoft to mature the widget framework first since many things don't work well with this new Widgets that the Live Tiles its replacing. - No offline functionality.
    - Only opens Edge (Production, even with Edge Canary and Dev won't be use either).
    - Performance is okay but not instant, maybe too reliant to the internet which means bad for mobile devices without LTE or 5G built in.
    - Only usable with MSA.
    - Only restricted to Widgets Panel for now.
  • What happens with Edge Deflector? Does it open in your browser of choice. I believe EdgeDeflector works with W11.
  • Just tried it with Windows 11, that is still works. Though consider Edge Deflector as a workaround, we should not be even doing this method in the first place if Microsoft offers a proper solution.
  • If/when this is fully open to third party developers, will Windows Central create a Widget? I use the current Windows Central Live Tile to check for new articles throughout the day.