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Shortcut Key to Hide Windows Vista Sidebar Behind Other Windows

If you’ve used Windows Vista for any length of time, you probably already know that using the Win + Space key combination will bring the Sidebar and all the gadgets to the front… but how do you send it back behind your open windows?

This was the question reader Kyle asked me earlier tonight, and after some research I discovered that there wasn’t one… so I wrote a utility with this functionality, assigned to the Ctrl+Win + Space key combination.

So you first used the Win + Space key to bring the sidebar and detached gadgets to the foreground:

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Now you can use Ctrl+Win + Space to send the sidebar and all detached gadgets back behind the previous foreground window.

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Installation

Download and unzip the file, then copy the VistaSidebarHider.exe application into a directory you’d like to keep it in.

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Type the following into the Windows Explorer address bar, which is a shortcut to quickly open your Startup folder.

shell:startup

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Create a shortcut in that folder to the VistaSidebarHider.exe application.

Running the Application

Just double-click it.

Usage

Use Ctrl+Win + Space to send the sidebar and gadgets to the back.

Shutting Down the Application

You’ll have to use Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open Task Manager, and then select the process in the list and click on End Process.

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Be sure to leave any feedback or complaints in the comments.

Download VistaSidebarHider Utility

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 02/23/08

Comments (20)

  1. Sacha

    Works great! Thanks, and I didn’t even know about the Winkey + Space combo :P

  2. Gene Thomas

    That’s neat alright, but all you have to do to send it all back under cover is click. Click just about anywhere. Wooof, its gone.

  3. Marty

    Interesting project, cool of you to write &share this. ALT+ESC works as well.

  4. ross

    I tried your method but it didn’t close the sidebar. Also the ‘close key’ is dead.
    But if you right click, a close box opens and you can use that. I enjoy your newsletters and have found
    lots of useful things. ross knight

  5. The Geek

    @ross: This isn’t meant to close the sidebar… it’s meant to send it back behind the other windows. The idea is that there’s a hotkey to bring the sidebar to the top, so there should be a hotkey to send it back to the bottom.

    @Marty

    Alt + Esc is a good combo, I’m betting most people don’t know about it… thanks for mentioning it!

    The difference is that Alt+Esc just changes focus back to the current window… very useful, but it doesn’t necessarily send the sidebar to the back of the list, which is what I was trying to do here.

  6. Planet Lowyat

    Remove all gadgets to make your computer faster :P

  7. ph15h

    Yea. I’ve been using Windows+Space and alt+esc ever since I actually utilized the Sidebar. :( I’m afraid to edit anything else

  8. stil

    suggestion: it would be much easier to use if the same key combo used to bring sidebar to front would also send it back. not sure if it’s easy to implement though, but it might be – something like chaining a hook on the key press, let the key press event go through if the sidebar is not in the front, and consume it (and hide the sidebar) otherwise. i’m not familiar with the windows api though, so i’m not sure this would work.

  9. The Geek

    @stil

    The problem is that the key combination is already in use by the actual sidebar, so it makes it a little more difficult to override cleanly.

  10. Kuhne

    Nice idea :) what I hate though is that unlike the MAC gadgets or the google gadgets, theres no way to make “undocked” gadgets dissapear from the desktop. you can close the sidebar but the undocked gadgets stay there. its quite annoying :(

  11. Ahmed

    Brilliant! This application is a saver :)

  12. Jerry Tarley

    what’s the chances we can get the script for this? thanks

  13. DPS4

    Can you make it so that they can be hidden behind the desktop itself? That way, we can have the OS X effect to bring them back up… I’ve been looking all over for that kind of functionality for Vista but I don’t think it exists.

  14. Rajas

    I use TrueTransparency on my vista basic machine to add transparency, is it possible to make png images that TrueTransparency uses to blur the background?

  15. Picasso

    Hey, when i double click on the program it does work?

    It says:

    “An older instance of this script is already running. Replacing it with this instance? Note: to avoid this message, see #SingleInstance in the help file.”

    wth?

  16. Chaz

    Doesn’t work with Windows 7 x64 :(

  17. Mike

    Very easy to do this via vbscript and also works with Windows 7 x64: paste the following into notepad and save it with ‘.vbs’ on the end:

    Set objWMIService = GetObject(“winmgmts:{impersonationLevel=impersonate}!\\.\root\cimv2″)
    Set colProcessList = objWMIService.ExecQuery(“SELECT * FROM Win32_Process WHERE Name = ‘sidebar.exe’”)
    For Each objProcess in colProcessList
    objProcess.Terminate()
    Next
    Set colProcessList = nothing
    Set objWMIService = nothing
    wscript.quit

    Double-click to close the sidebar. If your keyboard has hot keys you can assign this script to a hot key so you can close the sidebar simply by pressing the relevant hot key.

  18. Nik

    That’s some nice VB script you’ve got there, Mike. Are there any means to make a autohotkey script like that except that it be a toggleble hotkey to show/hide the desktop gagdets?

  19. Emma

    Doesn’t work for me Mike. (Vista 32bit). Error message appeared.

  20. dani

    I have vista and would wish that there was a autohide function as do many others.

    The ideal would be making the Sidebar hide and appear when the mouse goes over it!

    If anyone knows how to do this please share. I love the gadget sidebar but it always seem to be in the way which annoys the hell out of me.

    If you google it then many seem to wish for the same function. Its really stupid of win developers missing out on this point.

    Thanks!

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