How-To Geek

Applying Themes To Your Windows Vista Sidebar

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The look of the Windows Vista Sidebar is a little drab, and there’s no way to customize it with the default tools in Vista. Thankfully third party developers have stepped up to the plate and created an application that will let you re-theme the sidebar.

Note: After installing and launching this application you will need to restart the Vista sidebar.

When you launch the Windows Sidebar Styler application, it will give you this dialog that gives you a list of all the elements in the theme. You can select the items and see a preview on the right.


The big Play button will apply the style, but first you’ll need to load it by clicking the button to the right for “Load a Windows Sidebar Style”, which will open up a file selection dialog so you can choose from the different themes.


There’s a bunch of themes that come with the application, or you can find more themes at the WinCustomize gallery.

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If you click the More button on the dialog, you can even select an option to make the sidebar resizable.


Once you select that option, you can resize the sidebar like any other window. You’ll notice a new option to “Lock” the sidebar, which will prevent resizing once you’ve chosen the size that you want.


Another benefit to this tool is that you can load more powerful gadgets utilizing WPF (Windows Presentation Framework).

Download Windows Sidebar Styler from

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 11/9/07

Comments (10)

  1. Darone

    This isn’t working for me. It doesn’t change the background of the sidebar. Arghhh!

  2. Jason

    Doesn’t work for multiple monitors. Will not let me move it off of the main Windows monitor.

  3. Jonadab

    Note that it doesn’t resize the gadgets (like a Gnome user would tend to expect, or I did at any rate) only the sidebar background.

  4. VaKe

    Doesnt work for me its doesnt change anything…

  5. Patrick

    To notice changes you first have to end the sidebar.exe process in Taskmangaer and then restart it. That’s what I did and it changed.

  6. staka

    Apparently the “apply” changes the sidebar for XPs only. So on Vista, you must restart..

  7. Nitin Dashora

    No change!! Even after restart! PLEASE HELP

  8. peace_cank

    it work dude.. just end proces two sidebar.exe on your task manager –> processes
    then log off ur window, walla.. ur sidebar change ^^

  9. Bruce

    Hey! this is an EXCELLENT SITE! Thanks Mr.Geek! It has helped me so much in getting my new computer with vista os. I have been telling my friends about your site since I found it.
    Two questions…I followed your steps to disable the Windows Has Blocked info..and do not get a system config utility as you show in your instructions. Could you please check and update what needs to be done to rid us of this annoying pest?
    2)Is there a way to disable the little windows in the taskbar when on-line?
    Thanks again for a great site! I am so happy that I found you.
    Bruce in Salem, OR

  10. Phee

    Thanks! I found lots of cool backgrounds in that gallery you mentioned. Cheers!

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