Do you love Windows 11 widgets or hate them? Whether you want to show them, hide them of change them, there are settings to do what you want. Let’s explore how they work and how to customize them.
What are Windows 11 widgets? At the the left side of the taskbar is a small widget, which probably looks like a mini weather forecast. It is possible that other information could be displayed here, but the weather seems to be the default.
It is where the Start button used to be in previous versions of Windows all the way back to Windows 95. For the first month or so after upgrading to Windows 11, I would automatically move the mouse to the bottom left corner of the screen expecting the Start button to be there. It was muscle memory and I was on autopilot.
Instead of the Start menu at the left side of the taskbar, as soon as the mouse pointer moved over the widget, it triggered the full widget panel to appear. It can be frustrating having it pop up, but as we will see, it is easy to disable this auto-display and have it only appear when it is clicked. The Windows 11 widget can be customized or even completely disabled.
Customize the Windows 11 widget panel
Move the mouse over the widget in the taskbar or click it and a large panel appears on the left side of the desktop. It contains a lot of news stories and some may be of interest, but others may not be. Customize them if they do not suit you.
Click the home button in the top left corner of the widget panel and Edge browser opens the Microsoft Start page at www.msn.com and shows the latest news stories.
At the top of the page, under the search box, is a toolbar containing news topics. At the right-hand side is a Personalize button. Click it.
The My Interests tab opens and in the sidebar on the left is a list of news topics. Select and expand each of the sections. On the right is a collection of tiles showing subtopics for the selected category.
Click the plus button on topics you want to see more of and click the remove button on topics you want to see less off. I don’t think these are hard rules, so if you remove Sport for example, you might occasionally see sports stories in the widget panel. You just see fewer of them.
If you cannot find a topic you are intrerested in, use the search feature to find it. At the bottom of the sidebar is Followed list and Blocked list. These are much stronger indicators of the content you want to see in the widget panel.
The widget panel may not immediately change to reflect your preferences, so give it some time. Tomorrow, you should see content based on your preferences.
Customize stories and sources
There is another way to customize the contents of the Windows 11 widgets panel. Return to it, move the mouse over a tile and then click the three dots in the top right corner to show a menu. Use the More/Fewer stories like this menu options to change the frequency of stories like this one.
The source of the story is included in the menu and you will see a menu option like Hide stories from… This prevents all stories from that source from being shown. If there is a newspaper or other news source you don’t like, hide it with this menu.
The Manage interests menu option takes you to the customizer web page we saw earlier.
Change widgets in Windows 11
Did you know that you can add or remove items in the widget panel? Open it and click the plus button in the top right corner. Some of the items are clearly provided by apps installed on the computer, like To Do, Weather and Photos, so what you see may be different to the items in my screenshot. You may see extra items and may be missing some, depending on what software you have installed.
Click the plus button next to any of the widgets you want to add to the panel. More widgets may be added over time, so check what is available occasionally.
You cannot turn off Windows 11 widgets from this panel, which is a bit strange. Why not? Don’t worry, there is a way to remove them.
Move the mouse over a widget and click the three dots in the top right corner to access a menu. Select the size of the widget: Small, medium or large.
To remove a widget from this widgets panel, select Unpin widget in the menu.
Select Customize widget in the widget menu to change the content that a widget shows. What you can customize depends on the widget. With the Watchlist Movers widget you can select which companies, markets or cryptocurrencies to show. With the Traffic widget you can set the location, which could be useful for checking your commute to work or home.
Disable WIndows 11 widgets
Click your picture in the top right corner of the widgets panel and a Widget settings window is displayed. This enables you to customize when the panel appears, and notifications.
Open Widgets board on hover: Move the mouse over the widget at the left side of the taskbar and the full panel is displayed. It is personal preference, but I find it too easy to accidentally trigger it, which is annoying. Turn off this switch and it becomes click-to-display.
Show notification badges: You may find it useful to see notification badges showing the number of new items, but I find it a distraction. It basically demands attention, which isn’t good when working.
Show announcements: Is this useful or just another distraction when you are trying to work? It is your choice. I prefer it off.
Open the Settings app and click Personalisation followed by Taskbar. There is a master on/off switch here that shows or hides it. It is up to you – is it useful or just a distraction when you are trying to work?