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Customize your desktop with Gizmo Toolbar

Add genuinely useful toolbars and custom desktop settings with this versatile freeware.

When you see the word "toolbar" in something other than Windows, do you tend to look on it with suspicion? Unasked-for, ad-supported toolbars that are difficult to remove are common annoyances, so Gizmo Toolbar raised flags at first. However, it's actually a surprisingly flexible and easy-to-use desktop customization utility. You can use it to create multiple customized toolbars that you can access quickly from the system tray, customize the look of your layout and themes, add plug-ins, and more. It's free and works in 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows from XP to 7. For Windows XP and 2000 users, it adds Aero-style enhancements to the desktop, enabling many of the upgrades built into Vista and Windows 7.

Gizmo's system tray icon serves as its main access point; clicking it calls up the Toolbar, and right-clicking it opens a menu accessing Help, Updates, New Toolbars, Toolbar Items, and the Gizmo Manager, a configuration utility for setting up toolbars, configuring custom desktop settings, and saving, editing, and sharing toolbar settings. We started by creating our first toolbar, a task that could hardly be simpler: just drag icons into the box. Each new item appeared with its icon and description displayed; clicking it opened the target immediately. Clicking New Item opened the Item Wizard, an easy-to-use tool for creating Launchers (to launch apps, documents, folders, etc.), Groups (for displaying or running related items simultaneously), Tasks (for launching Help, Options, and other Gizmo features), and Dividers (for partitioning toolbar items). We chose to create a Launcher for an application. The Item Wizard displayed all our system's apps in a scrolling list; we merely had to click our choice to associate it, with no browsing to target folders. We could set a Hot Key for our Launcher and even choose an icon for it from a large selection of colorful, silly images that we could add to or customize.

We just scratched the surface of Gizmo's abilities, but it does more, such as enabling group of users to import and export toolbars and settings. Enterprise IT can use Gizmo to quickly and inexpensively create customized interfaces and toolbars giving workers easy access to their apps and files. One thing's for sure: we'll never think about toolbars in quite the same way again.

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