Understanding the Windows Vista Sidebar

It is my finding, and I think most techs will agree, that the Windows Vista Sidebar is probably the most underutilized and most misunderstood feature in Vista. I also do not see many articles written about the sidebar and this may be due to the thinking, by techs, that the sidebar consumes system memory or it is nothing more than eye candy.

If you are a Vista user and you do not know what the sidebar is, it is an area, usually inhabiting the right edge of your desktop that contains gadgets (such as a clock, picture viewer, calendar, etc…).  What most people do not know is that you can install, add and remove gadgets from the sidebar and you can also drag gadgets from the sidebar and place them anywhere on your desktop; thus, making the sidebar an useful feature.

To assist you with Understanding the Sidebar
I have compiled the following, easy-to-follow tutorial

Did you know…

You can move the sidebar to the left side of the screen (or to a secondary monitor); make it stay on top; OR make it start each time with Windows.  (Right click in the sidebar area and select properties).

Sidebar Properties

You can toggle the sidebar “on” and “off”. To turn the sidebar “off” “right click” the sidebar icon in the system tray notification area and select “exit”.  To turn it back “on”,  click on “Sidebar” under “Accessories” from the “Start Menu. A quick way to load the sidebar, is click the “Start Menu” button, select “run” and type “sidebar”.

Sidebar Tray

You can move any of the gadgets from the sidebar and place them anywhere on your desktop.  By placing your pointer on a gadget, a handle will appear.  Place the mouse pointer on the handle, hold down the left mouse button and drag it to the desktop. You can move your gadgets “to and from” the sidebar or around the desktop using the handle.

Sidebar Handle

You can configure and customize a gadget (depending on what the gadget is).  By placing your pointer on a gadget, a “wrench” will appear.  Click on the “wrench”.  Some gadgets have more configuration options than others.

Gadget Configure

You can remove a gadget from the sidebar.  By placing your mouse pointer on a gadget, an “X” will appear.  Click on the “X” to close the gadget and remove it from the sidebar or from your desktop.  When you close a gadget it is not deleted.  It is transferred (stored) in the Gadget Gallery.

Gadget Close

You can add gadgets by adding them from the “gadget gallery”.  To add a gadget, “right mouse click” a blank area within the “sidebar” and select “add gadget”.  This will prompt the gadget gallery to appear.  You can “left double click” on any gadget and it will be added to the sidebar.  Simply “close” the gadget gallery when done.  You can also add gadgets and invoke the gadget gallery by right mouse clicking the Sidebar tray icon and selecting “add gadget”.

Gadget Gallery

You can “uninstall” (remove) any gadgets from the “gadget gallery”.  To completely uninstall a gadget from your computer, “right mouse click” a blank area within the “sidebar” and select “add gadget”.  This will prompt the gadget gallery to appear.  “Right Mouse Click”, select “uninstall” to remove any gadget from your computer (and from the gadget gallery).

Gadget Uninstall from Gallery

You can add gadgets by downloading and installing them from the internet.  Installed gadgets are automatically added to the “Gadget Gallery”.  The “Gadget Gallery” serves as the depot for your gadget collection. Most of the gadgets reflected in the graphic above was downloaded from various internet sources.  A good place to start looking online for sidebar gadgets is:

Windows Vista Gallery – Personalize Windows Vista Sidebar

Look for quality when selecting your gadgets.
There are some really neat ones available.


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5 thoughts on “Understanding the Windows Vista Sidebar

Add yours

  1. Thanks Paul… I had to do some thinking and research on this one. I occasionally fire up my sidebar with my array of gadgets…


  2. * Slideshow
    * Calendar
    * Clock (like in a classroom)
    * CPU meter

    I used to have a RSS headlines gadget.. but I found myself reading and not writing. (Bad for a blogger.. or work environment!)


    1. TechPaul,

      When I was into obsessively exploring for gadgets I found some really good ones (weather, countdown timers, calculators, etc…). I think I read somewhere that in Windows 7, the gadget feature is still available; however, it is not in a sidebar. I may be wrong on that though…



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