Widgets are desktop app previews, allowing you to see important information from Windows apps, without needing to actually open those apps. The concept of widgets is not new, even in a Windows operating system, but the way they are managed and displayed in Windows 11 is new.
To open the widget panel, click or tap the button in the Taskbar (the blue and white square icon) or press Windows key + W on the keyboard. The panel slides out from the left side of the screen, and will sit over the top of any other apps or windows you currently have open.
The widget panel is initially split up into three main sections: Search, Widgets and News stories. Scroll down the panel to see more content. At the top-right is an account icon, which opens a new panel with account information and the ability to add new widgets. The exact widgets available to add will vary, depending on which apps you have installed. As Windows 11 develops, more widgets are likely to be added here, possibly from third-party developers as well as from Microsoft. To add new widgets, just click the + button on each.
After adding widgets, close the account panel and you will see the added widgets in the panel. You can move widgets around in the panel by clicking on the top of the widget and dragging it to the required position. Other widgets will rearrange to fit when you do this.
To remove a widget, click on the Menu button at the top-right of the widget and choose “Remove Widget” from the menu. You will also see the option to change the size of the widget in this menu. Not all of the widgets will allow all three of the sizing options.
Some Widgets allow content editing within the widget. A good example of this is the To Do widget. You can create tasks in the widget by clicking the “Add a task” button, without having to the open the main To Do app. The task then displays instantly in the widget. Other Widgets allow customisation through the More Menu button. The Weather widget, for example, lets you set the default location for the weather forecast that is shown. The Stocks widget lets you change which stock prices are displayed, etc.
The news stories further down the Widgets panel also allow for some customisation. You can click the X to remove a news story, and you can click the More Menu button to choose to see “More/Fewer stories like this”, or to hide all stories from that particular news source.
Clicking on a news story will take you to the webpage the story is from. At the top of the News section is a wide panel containing Top Stories. These are the top 6 news headlines. These will change as you like or dislike stories, or choose different news sources.
At the top of the Widgets panel is a clock and a search bar. You can type directly into the search bar, with any searches opening in your browser (Edge, by default). The search bar and the clock cannot be removed from the Widgets panel, nor can they be moved.