Microsoft Monday

We’ve looked at Windows Vista Sidebar gadgets before, but it seems every time I go back to the gallery of gadgets, there’s always at least one or two that I haven’t seen before that impress me. Today we’ll be looking at three of the best Vista sidebar gadgets I’ve come across lately including XM Online Radio Gadget (perfect for all of you XM radio users), Wp-corp Mail Checker (for checking up to five different email accounts), and Auction Sidebar Tool for eBay (a necessity for eBayers).

XM Online Radio Gadget

The XM Online Radio Gadget is by far one of the most useful gadgets that I’ve seen.  I listen to XM radio all throughout the day while I’m working, so you can see why this has come in handy.  Previously I accessed XM Radio online through Windows Media Player which was nice, but it wasn’t as convenient as I wanted it to be for a couple of reasons.  First, I’d have to open Windows Media Player and leave it open to listen to XM but secondly, there wasn’t an option to remember my login and password. It got a bit tedious after a while to enter in a user name and password any time I wanted to listen to music. This gadget takes care of both of the minor complaints I had about accessing XM Radio Online.


  • Once you enter your name and password, it will remember it so you don’t have to enter it in each time you want to listen to the radio
  • Access the channel list right from the gadget
  • Displays the channel you’re on and the artist that sings the song

Obviously you have to have a paid subscription with XM Radio in order to be able to use the gadget.  I noticed that some people that left comments in the Gadget Gallery were complaining because they assumed if the gadget was free, so was the XM service. XM does offer an online only subscription which is $7.99 per month or you can get the full subscription and use it with an XM Radio device and listen online.

Below you’ll see a screenshot of what the gadget looks like in the sidebar. I clicked to view the channels, and they pop-out to the left:

xm gadget


Wp-corp mail checker

Wp-Corp Mail Checker is my new favorite service for checking my mail because I can set it up to check multiple accounts. It’ll work for any POP3/ IMAP4 with SSL email accounts which means it does work with Gmail. There are a few bugs here and there, but all around I’d say it’s an awesome gadget for checking your mail. Once you install it, you’ll go through the process of configuring your accounts – you can have up to five.

wp mail checker

There are several configuration options including selecting the number of accounts you’re going to use. You’ll also be able to determine how often you want it to check your email. Options range from one minute to one hour. There are a few other options as well like selecting “mailbox glow.” If you decide to use the mailbox glow, you’ll see a glow around the box in the gadget when you have a new message. You can also opt to show the mail date. As you can see below, I have two different email accounts setup. When you click to view the unread mail, it will pull-up all of the messages from your inbox in a pop-out window as shown below.

wp mail checker 2

My only complaint with this gadget is that if you trash a message, it will remove the email from your inbox but it actually archives it instead of actually deleting it.

Here are a few things to make sure you do while setting it up if you’re using a Gmail account:

  • Mail Protocol: Select IMAP and SSL from the dropdown lists
  • Server address is and the port should be changed to 993
  • Make sure you choose how many headers you want it to retrieve otherwise it won’t work

Auction Sidebar Tool

The Auction Sidebar Tool for eBay is perfect for anybody who buys or sells on eBay. You can either use it as a basic search tool, or you have the option of using it in an advanced mode where you can manage your whole eBay account right from your sidebar. If you want to get notified when you get a new message, you can get notified through this gadget as well. When you’re initially setting up the gadget, you’ll have the option to show items that you’re watching, selling, and bidding on.  You’ll also be able to select a skin that suits your tastes.

After you’re done with the setup process, you’ll have to sign in to your eBay account. The sign-in page will open in your browser at which point you’ll enter in your user name and password.  Then you’ll be required to authorize the gadget to access the info in your account by simply clicking ” I agree.”

ebay gadget

If you search for an item, you can either have the results open in a window in your browser, or you can select to have the results appear in a gadget flyout (shown above) which I prefer.  If you click on a result within the searches, there are tabs for the overview of the listing, the description, pictures, and shipping and policies so that it’s easy to navigate as shown below.

ebay gadget 2

Have a favorite Vista Sidebar gadget? Let us know!