Windows Sidebar – the complete guide

In this tutorial we will show you how to use the Windows Sidebar – a new application included in the Windows Vista operating system. You will learn how to tweak it, how to add or remove gadgets and where to find them on the internet.

Windows Sidebar is situated by default on the right side of your screen and initially it has three gadgets: Clock, SlideShow and Feed Headlines. It offers the following customization options: it can be hidden, kept on top of other windows, you can add and remove gadgets from it or detach gadgets to place them on your desktop.

Windows Sidebar

Configure the Windows Sidebar

To configure your Windows Sidebar right click on the icon found in the notification area and choose Properties.

Windows Sidebar Properties

The Windows Sidebar Properties window will be launched. If you want to disable the Windows Sidebar, uncheck the “Start Sidebar when Windows starts” option.

Windows Sidebar

If you want to keep the Windows Sidebar on top of your open windows check the option that says: “Sidebar is always on top of other windows”. If not, uncheck it and the sidebar will always be hidden behind the your maximized open windows.

Also, you have the possibility to change the location of the Windows Sidebar by selecting Left or Right, according to your preference.

How to add or remove gadgets

In the upper side of the Sidebar you can notice that there are three signs: a “+” and two arrows. To add another gadget to your Sidebar click the “+” sign.

Windows Sidebar Gadgets

Alternatively you can right click on the Sidebar and select Add Gadgets. A new window showing a list of all the gadgets installed on your system will be launched:

Windows Sidebar Gadgets

By default there are only eleven gadgets installed. To add one to the Windows Sidebar, double click on it or drag it to the desired position on your Sidebar. Also, you can move around the gadgets that are already displayed on the Windows Sidebar by dragging and dropping them to the desired positions.

To get more gadgets click on the Get more gadgets online link or go to the Windows Live Gallery.

When you have found a gadget you want to add to your Sidebar, click the Download to Sidebar button.

Windows Live Gallery

You will receive a small warning like the one shown below. Click the Install button and then choose the location where you want to download the gadget.

Windows Live Gallery

When the download is complete, click on the Open button or double click on the gadget you have just downloaded.


Before installing the new gadget, you will receive another warning and here you need to click on Allow. If you don’t want to receive other warnings in the future, check the option that says “Do not show me the warning for this program again”.

Windows Sidebar Warning

After that, your Windows Sidebar might prompt you with another security warning in case your gadget is made by an unsigned publisher.

Windows Sidebar Warning

Just click on Install and the gadget that you downloaded will be loaded on your Windows Sidebar.

Windows Sidebar

If you want to remove a gadget, move your mouse above it and you will see that a set of three icons appears on the right. Click on the “x” icon and the gadget will be removed from your Windows Sidebar.

Windows Sidebar

Alternatively, you can right click on the gadget and then choose Close Gadget.

How to detach a gadget

Gadgets can be run inside the Sidebar but also detached from it. To detach a gadget just drag it to the desired position on your desktop. Alternatively, you can right click on a gadget and select Detach from Sidebar.

Windows Sidebar

To put it back on the Windows Sidebar, right click on it and select Attach to Sidebar.

Note: when installing gadgets please make sure they are from trusted sources like the Windows Live Gallery.

Related articles:
Checking the time for multiple time zones from the Windows Sidebar

25 thoughts on “Windows Sidebar – the complete guide”

  1. hello
    hi i am nazeer from india.i heartly fully congratulate the very idea of starting the has given me the lot of flexibility .and its easy to use too.thanks to microsoft

    • Read the tutorial
      There is no uninstall option. However, you can disable it.
      If you read the “Configure the Windows Sidebar” section of this tutorial you will learn how to disable the Sidebar.

      • Disabling sidebar not working….
        I have read the tutorial, unchecked the box, right clicked on the icon and selected exit….. and the dreaded sidebar is still there…

        Any ideas?????

  2. Transparency
    I noticed that in the begining my side bar, although a bit darker from the rest of the desktop, had a lot of transparency in it. Now it is still darker than the desktop but with almost now transparency at all, almost with a black background. Is there any way to add more transparency to it?

  3. tricks
    You could do this:

    1. Click and drag all your sidebar gadgets onto the desktop.
    2. Right click the empty sidebar and select ‘close sidebar’
    The sidebar will close and your gadgets will stay on the desktop. Now just move them to wherever you want them.

  4. gadget removal
    Is there a way to remove gadgets without actually opening the sidebar and removing them one at a time? My uncle has opened prob somewhere close to 50 to 60 gadgets in the sidebar and now when ever you try to use the sidebar it freezes the entire computer, only way to get out is to cold shutdown. I was hoping to find a registry hack to remove sidebar startup gadgets. Any help? or ideas?

  5. fixing firewall for gadget function
    How do I get Nortons firewall to let the gadgets talk to the internet? I have a stock ticker that when the firewall is up, it will not update. Any help or ideas?

  6. Make Maximized windows go behind sidebar

    I find sidebar really annoying, for one simple reason. I want my sidebar to be “Always on top of other windows” INCLUDING maximized windows. At the moment maximized windows always maximize to the left of the sidebar. I want a transparent sidebar on top of my maximized windows.

    Because I cannot do this I do not use sidebar, it wastes too much screen space.

    In addition the label of the option is “Sidebar is ALWAYS on top of other windows” (my captials), ALWAYS is not true, as it is not on top of maximized windows. So I’d argue that the text is incorrect.

  7. sidebar not working
    i have a dell inspirion with vista premium on it..since last two days sidebar is not displayed though all its setting and properties are fine..there is no other problem with vista..what should i do??? is there a way to reinstall sidebar..??

  8. Hi Im having trubble
    Is there any one who knows how to add the sidebar to the bottom of the screen… i have searched at google but i dont find any thing about it is there any one who culd help me to create sidebar to the bottom of the screen?? please mail me if you have any ideas how to do… Thanx

    [email protected]

  9. Sidebar icons just don’t show up!
    Hi there,

    Very good tutorial, i appreciate you providing ppl with good information:)
    The problem i face is that the icons in the sidebar don’t appear as they should, instead i see blank squares in their places. i tried everything but i just don’t know how to get my sidebar work again 🙁

  10. no sidebar.exe–lost
    My problem is that I have lost the actual sidebar.exe application program. I no longer have any gadgets in my folders either. How do I get back the .exe apllication program first off.

  11. Sidebar Not Associating
    Suddenly whenever I use a gadget that connects to another source, i.e. Feed Headlines or Weatherbug, I get the message “This file does not have a program associated with it for performing this action. Create an association in the Set Associations control panel.”

    I checked and gadget files are already set to Windows Sidebar. Please help. I’ve been searching for an answer for days and haven’t found a solution yet.

  12. Windows Sidebar Vista Ultimate 64 – 50% + CPU usage problem
    Great tutorial!
    Currently I‘ve got 2 Windows Sidebar problems. Any help provided would be greatly appreciated.
    My system: Vista Ultimate 64 SP1 in a VAIO FW (2.66GHz) laptop.
    I’ve got 4 gadgets in the sidebar (weather, clock, calendar and slide show)
    – The Sidebar is using 50% + of CPU when running
    When I shut the sidebar down the CPU usage goes to ‘normal’ low levels (1-5%). I have managed to identify the gadget that is causing the CPU usage and that is the CLOCK. This gadget does not work properly it seems to be corrupted. I have tried to delete it and restore it – no luck. The sidebar without the clock in it has no CPU high usage issues.
    – The appearance of the Calendar and Weather gadgets has changed. They both have an underline line (bottom & left hand side) around’ the gadgets. I can’t get rid of the ‘underline lines’. This is annoying…
    How to fix this problem? I do like this new windows fixture (sidebar) and I would like to keep it.

  13. I somehow deleted windows
    I somehow deleted windows vista sidebar, my comp can’t find the location it says, but i’m pretty sure i removed the programming required to run it, is there a free download to reinstall????

  14. Windows sidebar
    I have somehow accidently deleted the Windows Sidebar from the hard drive. When I try to access windows sidebar, I get the message”Windows Sidebar has stopped working”. When I click on problem details the following appears “Problem signature:
    Problem Event Name: APPCRASH
    Application Name: sidebar.exe
    Application Version: 6.0.6002.18005
    Application Timestamp: 49e02551
    Fault Module Name: StackHash_0275
    Fault Module Version: 6.0.6002.18005
    Fault Module Timestamp: 49e03821
    Exception Code: c0000374
    Exception Offset: 000afaf8
    OS Version: 6.0.6002.
    Locale ID: 4105
    Additional Information 1: 0275
    Additional Information 2: cdff3720a18c6cc1c6eee32a403e501d
    Additional Information 3: ef65
    Additional Information 4: 9c545161c75f77698f68de41c80d0b42”
    Short of doing a complete factory restore, is there anyway to reinstall lWindows Sidebar? I hope to hear back from you, thank you for your attention to this matter.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.