OK, then. It’s time for a new mini-review in the Admin Toolkit series here at Win10.Guru. First let me start with a disclaimer. If you believe what MS says about gadgets, you should run screaming in the other direction from this great tool built by German developer Helmut Buhler. It’s called 8GadgetPack and I can’t (and don’t want to) live without it. But here’s what MS says about gadgets (or more properly, sidebar gadgets, in a Support page last updated on Nov. 29, 2018):
Why Am I RECOMMENDING 8GadgetPack?
Quick answer: I can’t live without ’em. And warnings against vulnerabilities and compromise notwithstanding, I’ve never had nor heard of a problem with any of the kinds of gadgets that I like to use. The ones with communication capabilities should be avoided. But I like gadgets, mostly, that tell me useful stuff about my PC, like this:
If you’ll notice, these gadgets take up just a small amount of screen real estate. On my two-monitor setup I park them on the right-hand edge of my left-hand display, so they’re always in the middle of my field of vision. Look next at what these gadgets can do, or can tell me. From top to bottom, you see:
- Network Meter: shows me upload/download bandwidth and total bytes uploaded/downloaded. Also shows me IP addresses, and a wave form for outward and inward network traffic. It’s a fantastic tool to help me keep tabs on what my PC is up to, network-wise, and I use it all the time, especially when grabbing updates, ISOs, or other big downloads.
- The next item is named Control System. It gives me instant access buttons to log off, shut down, restart, sign in with a new account, and hardware reset (left to right). I love this gadget because I use RDP a lot, and these buttons let me restart or shut down PCs when remotely logged in. Great stuff!
- CPU Meter: shows me what’s up with my PC’s central processing unit and related system resources. I can see CPU name, rated and actual clock speeds, memory consumption, per-core utilization and more. You can even integrate Core Temp to show per-core/hyperthread temperatures as well, if you like. Extremely handy.
- Analog Clock: Call me old-fashioned but I like to see a clock with hands on it. I can tell roughly what time it is right away from position without having to try to read any numbers.
The GadgetPack environment lets you add other gadgets, too. These are just the ones I happen to like and use regularly. Each time you upgrade Windows 10, the installer will turn off and disable GadgetPack. But the developer is smart enough to have written a tool that detects disablement and he parks a “re-installer” one-time-use shortcut on the Win10 desktop so you can reinstall it with a single click after upgrading. Great stuff.
There are some 60-odd gadgets available through the program, which you can download from https://8gadgetpack.net/ (current version is 28.0, updates on January 27, 2019 as I write this). Those other gadgets cover a wide range of functions, including numerous clocks, calendars, agendae, to-do lists, media tools, and more. There are other hardware monitors available, too, including those for storage devices, networking stuff, battery, power status, and more. You’ll even find some games, and plenty of weather widgets.
Kari thinks I’m nuts to use this stuff. But I’ve gotten so used to having this information always and easily available I can’t live without it. You can decide whether you’re more of Kari’s persuasion or mine, but do please check it out. And if you like it, do what I’ve done and make a PayPal contribution to the developer. This is a great little toolset that I hope to keep using for many years to come. Perhaps when you try it out, you’ll find yourself similarly inclined.
Author: Ed Tittel
Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.