Windows 11 introduced a brand new Widgets panel, where you can access a variety of updated information using configurable topic boxes (what Microsoft calls Info Cards). It’s made up of two sections: a top section that features widgets for weather, sports, your latest photos, and other custom topics, and a news section that features clickable headlines from various sources.
Here’s how to get the most out of current Windows 11 widgets.
Access your widgets
To access the widgets, select the Widgets icon in the taskbar (this is the one that looks like a square divided into white and blue sections). You can also press Window + W or, if you have a touchscreen, swipe from the left.
You’ll likely see a variety of starter widgets at the top that will give you information about sports scores, weather, stock prices, and any pictures you might have in your OneDrive account. There is also a search box and a button that allows you to add new widgets. Below you can scroll down to find a number of news sources.
Adjust your widgets
There are a variety of ways to modify your widget panel.
- To move your widgets, long press the top of a widget until you see an open hand. (This is as opposed to a “pointing” hand, which allows you to click on a link.) You can then change its position on the panel.
- To change the size of a widget, remove it from your panel, or customize it, click the three dots in the upper right corner. The selections you see will depend on the widget; for example, the Weather widget can be small, medium, or large, and you can customize it to set a default location and operate in degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius. The Photos app, on the other hand, is only medium to large in size and doesn’t have any other customizations.
- Click on the name of the widget in the upper left corner and you will be taken to a separate page where you can access more information – more details on the weather, for example, or more of the latest sports scores.
- If you would like to see the current selection of available widgets, click on the “Add Widgets” button that is located between your widgets and the news feeds. It’s not a long list right now – I counted 11, all available are produced by Microsoft. Hopefully, however, there will be some additional third-party entries to come.
The news section is under the “Add widgets” button. It is led by a “Top Articles” section that highlights multiple headlines, followed by individual articles. Both come with Facebook-like icons that you can attach to each story (including thumbs up, heart, “surprised”, “thinking”, sad, or angry).
Select the three dots next to each title and you can see more or less stories like this, hide stories from that source, save them for later (in other words, bookmark them) or report. All bookmarked stories will have a gray square around these three points.
Personalize your interests
The “Add Widgets” button also provides a link (in the lower left corner) that lets you tell the Widget app what interests you and what doesn’t. (You can go to the same location by clicking on the three dots next to a news item and select “Manage Points of Interest.”)
Either way, you’ll end up on Microsoft’s start page, essentially the Edge browser settings page. Using the “My Interests” tab, you can tell Windows what types of news you want and don’t want. On the left side of the page, you can choose from categories like News, Sports, Travel, Health, etc. clicking on each of these categories will bring you a list of specific topics in the main window. For example, if you select “Entertainment”, you can choose from topics such as “Celebrities”, “Music” or “Books”, among others.
Other tabs you can choose from include “Profile” (which introduces you to what is known as the “Microsoft News Community”), “My Backups” (all of the stories you’ve saved), “History” (a list of stories you have read in the last 48 hours) and “Experience settings”. You might want to visit the latter: it allows you to choose your feed’s language (the default language is English) or toggle several features on and off, including those Facebook-like reaction icons. You can also turn off some of the basic info cards, such as finance or weather.
Currently, Windows 11 widgets seem to be more of a curiosity or a way to take a break than a real tool. However, if and when third-party widgets become available, the Widgets pane could come in really handy.