How To Add Gadgets Back to Windows 8

I really miss having desktop gadgets in Windows 8 and found a way to have them again. Below is an article and utility to achieve this. Very nice. Below is my desktop with sample gadgets. Enjoy.


Replace XP & Windows 7 features missing from Windows 8

If you used of any of the desktop Gadgets available in Windows 7, you will notice that they have all gone once you've upgraded to Windows 8. This is because Microsoft has ceased support for Gadgets under the new operating system. Here's how to re-install Windows 7 Gadgets when you are using Windows 8. See also: How to add Windows Media Center to Windows 8.

There's no official way to re-install them, but you can get them back by installing a free utility called 8Gadgetpack, available from

Installing this utility will create a gadget sidebar to which you can add any of the gadgets you had previously installed on Windows 7 without having to download them again. All user settings should also be preserved. If you don't like the sidebar, you can close it and place the gadgets directly on the desktop as before.
You should be aware the Microsoft cites security as a reason for removing the gadgets, although you'll be no less secure as you were using them under Windows 7. As always, do some research before installing any gadgets you may find online, especially as the official Microsoft Gadget repository is now gone. (See also: Windows 8: the complete guide.)

You can also run XP Mode in Windows 8. It's a bit more involved, but we show you how in our article: How to migrate Windows XP Mode to Windows 8.

For more on the changes in Windows 8 and how to use them visit Windows 8 Advisor. For detailed advice on installing Windows 8 Release Preview, read our article: How to install Windows 8.

Desktop Gadgets


IObit StartMenu8 Free For Windows 8

Users who aren’t willing to shell out $5 for Stardock’s Start8 (yes, it’s not free) and don’t like ClassicShell Start menu may be looking for a good, free alternative to these programs. Users who can’t live without the Start menu or who don’t like the Start screen can check out the newly released StartMenu8 program from the well known IObit.

StartMenu8 for Windows 8

IObit StartMenu8 is a free software specially developed for Windows 8 to enable the Start menu. Just like ClassicShell and Start8, StartMenu8 not only helps you get back Start menu and Start orb in Windows 8 but also allows you skip to the desktop mode directly instead of Start screen.

StartMenu8 for Windows

Even though the program is currently in beta stage, it works smoothly on both x86 and x64 versions of Windows 8. Users can either click on the Start button or press the Windows logo key to see the Start menu.

To switch to the Start screen, you need to move the mouse cursor to the lower left corner of the screen and then perform a click when the Start screen preview tile appears.


As you can see in the screenshots, you can access documents, pictures, music, games center, computer, control panel, devices & printers, default programs and shut down options from the Start menu, just like in Windows 7.

The search function of Start menu also works fine but the current version doesn’t support launching Modern UI (Metro UI) apps from the Start screen.

Please note that the current beta build includes Send Feedback button on the upper right of the Start menu and the same will be removed from the final build.

Users who are interested to install StartMenu8 may visit the developer’s page to know more about the program and download the setup file. We recommend you create a system restore point before installing third-party programs.

How To Enable Windows Explorer Toolbar In Windows 8

The Windows Explorer Ribbon UI is one of the hundreds of new features introduced with Microsoft’s newest version of Windows operating system. The Ribbon UI replaces the Explorer toolbar and provides better access to all Windows Explorer features and settings

The best thing about the Ribbon UI is that it’s minimized by default and one can access almost all Windows Explorer settings and features without having to open Folder Options dialog. One can minimize or maximize the Ribbon either by clicking the down arrow that appears on the upper-right of the window or by pressing Ctrl + F1 hotkey.

Enable Windows Explorer Toolbar

While majority of Windows users love the Ribbon in Windows Explorer, a small percentage of users love to have the old Explorer toolbar in Windows 8 as well.

Users who would like to disable the Ribbon Explorer and want to enable the old toolbar can download and run a small utility named Ribbon Disabler. Ribbon Disabler is a free utility from the maker of Personalization Panel for Windows 7, User Picture Tuner, and Windows 7 Home Basic Color Changer.

It lets you enable the Toolbar and disable the Ribbon with a click. Download, run the tool with admin rights, and then click Disable Windows Explorer Toolbar. Once done, you will be asked to log off and log on to apply the change.

Enable Windows Explorer Toolbar In Windows 8

When you enable the Toolbar in Windows 8 with Ribbon Disabler, you will see organize, slide show, print, new folder, open, play all and many other options in Windows Explorer.

Please note that the Ribbon Explorer zip file includes separate executable for 32-bit and 64-bit Windows 8. Make sure you run the right version. The tool comes with an option to revert to the original Windows Explorer Ribbon UI. 


How To Change the Window Border Color in Windows 8-HowToGeek


Windows 8’s default blue window border color isn’t the only option. Windows 8 automatically selects the appropriate color depending on your wallpaper – you can also select a different color or use a third-party tool to easily select other colors.
Changing the color of the window borders also changes the color of your taskbar. The taskbar and window borders use the same colors in Windows 8, although the taskbar is still partially transparent.



Change Your Wallpaper

The default color is only blue because of the default background Windows 8 comes with. To change your background, right-click the desktop background and select Personalize – just like in Windows 8.

Click the Desktop Background option at the bottom of the window to change your wallpaper.

Select a new wallpaper from the list. You can select one of your own background images by clicking the Browse button and browsing to it. When you select a new background image, Windows will automatically change the window border color.

Windows won’t always choose the main color in the image – for example, when you select the below flower image, Windows chooses a pink color for the window borders instead of a blue one.


 Select a Color

If you want to set a color independently from the background color – or tweak the automatically selected color – click the Color option in the Personalization window.

You can select one of the predefined colors from this list. To re-enable automatic window border color selection, select the color at the top-left corner of the list.

To tweak your colors even further, click the Show color mixer drop-down option and use the four sliders to customize it.



Easily Select Custom Colors

It’s possible to specify a variety of colors with the sliders in the window above, but this may not be the most convenient way of doing it.
Instead of playing with those three sliders, you can try Aero8Tuner, which we mentioned as a way of re-enabling transparent window borders in Windows 8. Aero8Tuner allows you to save a list of your favorite custom colors that you can easily switch between them. You can also select a custom color with a single click.
After downloading Aero8Tuner, launch it and click the Main Color icon.

Select one of the basic colors or click and drag to select a custom color. Click the Add to Custom Colors button to save your favorite custom colors for later.

As with all Windows desktop customizations, you can save them as a theme from the Personalization window. This saves your window border color, wallpaper, sounds, screensaver, and other settings into a single theme preset that you can reload later.


10 Awesome Improvements For Desktop Users in Windows

It’s easy to focus on how Windows 8’s new interface doesn’t feel at home on a traditional desktop PC or laptop. But that’s only one part of Windows 8 – the Windows 8 desktop includes a variety of useful improvements.
If you’re a desktop user, you owe it to yourself to look over the improvements and consider upgrading. If Microsoft hadn’t removed the traditional Start menu and added a new interface, we’d all be considering Windows 8’s desktop an upgrade.

Boot Speed

Windows 8 uses some tricks to dramatically improve its boot speed. Some people have seen boot times drop from 30 to 15-20 seconds on existing hardware. Instead of shutting down normally, Windows 8 employs a clever trick – it saves the state of low-level software such as the kernel and hardware drivers to the disk and restores them when you boot it up. Essentially, Windows 8 “hibernates” low-level system software instead of shutting it down, resulting in greatly increased boot speeds.
New Windows 8 PCs using UEFI will also boot faster than systems using the old-style BIOS.

File Copying

File copying in Windows 8 is dramatically improved. The new file copy dialog allows you to pause file-copying operations, view multiple file-copying operations in the same window, and more easily manage file conflicts. The interface is simple by default, but you can also expand the dialog to view more information, including a graph of the file transfer’s speed over time.

Improved Multiple Monitor Support

For power uses with multiple monitors, windows 8 allows you to place separate taskbars and wallpapers on each monitor. Previously, this required third-party software.

Task Manager

The new Task Manager is a huge improvement over the old one. It features a Startup software manager that allows users to easily control the software that loads at startup. It’s also easier to understand at a glance, with color-coded resource usage columns and more human-readable program names. You can also quickly research a mysterious process online by right-clicking it and using the Search online option.

File Explorer Improvements

Windows Explorer has seen quite a few changes. For one, it’s now named File Explorer. While some users may dislike the new ribbon interface, it makes it easier to access powerful options like viewing hidden files without digging through menus and dialog boxes. You can also easily collapse the ribbon if you never want to see it.
There are also quite a few straight-up improvements, including the ability to mount ISO and VHD files by double-clicking them – no need to install any additional software. The Up button on the toolbar that was removed in Windows 7 is now back.

Storage Spaces

Storage Spaces is a power-user feature that allows you to combine multiple physical volumes into one logical volume. In other words, you can create a pool of storage from several physical hard disks. The storage pool will behave as if it were one hard disk.

Hyper V

Windows 8’s included Hyper-V feature allows you to create virtual machines out-of-the-box. Hyper-V was previously used on Windows Server and replaces the Windows Virtual PC virtualization solution used for Windows XP Mode on Windows 7. For example, you can use Hyper-V to install Ubuntu on a virtual machine without installing any third-party software.

Refresh and Reset

The ability to refresh your device to its factory state may seem like a tablet feature, but it isn’t. You can actually create your own system image and refresh Windows to it, quickly resetting Windows 8 to a fresh-installed state whenever you like. This can save you time when reinstalling Windows.

Battery Life

Low-level system changes, including optimizations to squeeze more battery life out of tablets and other portable computers, should result in a more power-efficient operating system and longer battery life. The removal of Aero should also result in longer battery life for laptops.


Security has seen a lot of attention in Windows 8. Microsoft has finally included an integrated antivirus in Windows 8. It’s named Windows Defender, but it’s actually a renamed Microsoft Security Essentials. This will ensure that even less-experienced Windows users have an antivirus, but you can easily disable it and install any other antivirus product you prefer.
Secure Boot provides protection from rootkits that hijack the startup process, assuming you’re using a new PC with UEFI instead of the traditional BIOS. (On Intel x86 PCs, you can disable Secure Boot or add your own keys to Secure Boot in the UEFI firmware, so Secure Boot won’t prevent you from installing Linux. However, Secure Boot is used to lock-down ARM-based Windows RT computers.)

The integration of Microsoft’s SmartScreen filter at a lower level helps prevent less experienced uses from downloading and installing malware by warning them when they install software that is known-bad, or software that hasn’t been seen before.

There are also low-level changes to memory allocation and ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization) that make security vulnerabilities harder to exploit, even if security holes are found.

If these were the only changes that were made in Windows 8, desktop users would see it as a worthy upgrade over Windows 7 – especially for $40.
Even if you dislike Windows 8’s new interface, the availability of third-party Start menus and software that hides a lot (but not all) of the new interface on the desktop should make you seriously consider upgrading to Windows 8 if these improvements seem significant to you.



How to watch DVDs in Win8

Windows 8 doesn't have native DVD video support, but there are several good options for watching DVDs in Microsoft's latest operating system. We'll show you a few of the more popular ones.

If you like watching DVDs on your PC, you'll be disappointed to know that Windows 8 can't play DVD videos out of the box, so to speak. That doesn't mean you have to go out and spend a lot of money to get DVD video playback. In fact, there are quite a few programs available that are free. Here are a few popular options for watching DVDs on your Windows 8 PC:

Windows Media Center
It's the omission of Windows Media Center that removed Windows 8's ability to natively play DVD video. If you like Windows Media Center or prefer watching DVDs with Windows Media Player, Windows 8 Pro users can add Windows Media Center as an add-on for $9.99. For a limited time, however, you can get Windows Media Center for free.

Windows Media Center DVD playback in Windows 8
Windows Media Center in Windows 8.
(Credit: Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET)

VLC Media Player
VLC has been around for over a decade and is one of the most popular media players available -- free or otherwise. It ranks No. 1 for video players at CNET's and has been downloaded over 47 million times. One of the reasons for its popularity is its support for a wide variety of audio and video file formats.

VLC Media Player in Windows 8

VLC Media Player in Windows 8.
(Credit: Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET) 
GOM Media Player
GOM is another very popular media player that can play DVDs on Windows 8. It also supports a plethora of file formats and is easy to use. In order to achieve DVD playback, however, you may need to follow its FAQ on installing the MPEG-2 codec. An official Windows 8 version is in the works, but the current version seems to work fine in Windows 8.

GOM DVD playback in Windows 8

GOM Media Player in Windows 8.
(Credit: Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET) 
MPC-HC (Media Player Classic Home Cinema)
MPC-HC is a lightweight media player for Windows, based on the older Media Player Classic. It's not flashy, but it's small and offers a lot of customization options.

MPC-HC DVD playback on Windows 8

MPC-HC in Windows 8.
(Credit: Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET) 
That's it. Do you use any of the media players listed above or do you have another favorite? Let us know in the comments.


Windows Media Player
You can also use Windows Media Player in Windows 8. Below is a video how to use it and a link where to download it.


Windows Media Player 12 will not play video, but will for music. You can download WMP11 it here:

Zoom Player
Zoom Player Standard is a customizable media player with a minimalist interface. It offers user defined context menus, adjustable video color settings, as well as advanced mouse controls, remote control capabilities and more. Zoom Player offers support for all DirectShow filters, including Subtitles and 10-Band EQ, as well as support for advanced video codecs (DivX/XviD/MPEG4), if they are installed on your PC. A Pro version is available for a fee.

You can download the Zoom Player here: