How-To Geek

Disable Windows Sidebar in Vista

Let’s be honest: If you are reading this article, then you probably think the Windows Sidebar in Windows Vista is cheesy and useless. Thankfully it’s also easy to disable.

To disable the sidebar, right click on the sidebar or sidebar icon, and choose properties:


Uncheck the “Start Sidebar when Windows starts” checkbox:


Then right-click on the icon, and choose Exit to close the sidebar:


Your sidebar should now be gone, and won’t start back up with Windows anymore.

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 01/7/07

Comments (62)

  1. Quick Info Needed

    Not cheesy and useless. The sidebar is only good for only a few things for me. The date, time, weather, processor and ram usage, and wireless networking status. After that it may be cheesy, but sidebars are useful, even this built in one from Mycrowsloth.

  2. jimmy

    so check this out man! if i disable the sidebar during the start up will this actually make my start ups much quicker. what about the anti virus software that runs starts auto during start up.

    holla back geek

  3. Rob

    Obviously the meaning of “cheesy and Useless” will vary from person to person. The sidebar has some usefull gadgets if you bother to try them.

    To me “cheesy and useless” are all those lame morons who still think intentionally misspelling Microsoft is a funny joke (maybe 10 years ago). The only thing worst are idiots who use dollar signs to replace the letter ‘S’.

  4. john

    Yes, I do quite like the sidebar, especially the clock for quick time reference. But I can also see why a lot of people would think it ‘cheesy’
    I personally think Aero is only usefull for ‘showing off’ your new Vista, and will never otherwise be used … what do you think?

  5. Alex

    I have a question about the side bar. I just upgraded to windows vista, and i noticed that the side bar had nice features that might be acceptable by me for future use.. However, after i updated some files on the computer, the side bar disappeared from the screen. I enabled it and that still didn’t help. The icon in the task bar is also gone and i don’t know how to bring it back. I need some assistance that way i can get the side bar going and working properly. Thank you.

  6. G H Kreske

    I have tried right clicking on the windows sidebar but do NOT get the dialog window you display.
    The window that opens is the same as opens on clicking anywhere else.

  7. ScottM

    If you right-click on the sidebar and click “Close sidebar,” your gadgets will remain open, but the sidebar will be minimized to the system tray icon. It’s much less cheesy that way.

  8. Rinto

    Yahoo Widget is more useful….

  9. paulette caffrey

    how in the hell do I connect to the internet on Vista with my Firewall that has a network key. Vista asks for a passphrase not a network key?????????

  10. paulette caffrey

    obviously, I’m not a geek with this stuff….but I’ve been able to setup a laptops with XP with the firewall network key no problem.

  11. McGeek

    Forget gadgets!

    Get more Widgets!

  12. Sean

    Ya but how to disable windows+G (and keep all other shortcut keys)? Everytime you use that key, sidebar is launched

  13. Bruce

    Great Site !!!!!!! Question- is there a way to totally remove (not just disable) from my computer system and hard drive?

  14. mark

    I have the same problem…I installed updates for vista and the sidebar suddenly disappears…..HELP ME!

  15. bob rettman

    Thank you mister Geek, such a simple thing but when you don’t know it can be maddening and waste a lot of your time. Your site was very helpful.

  16. movie

    hello – with such xp software can I then also download vista gadgets, like from :grin: now I have asked on a few forum lets see what happens.

  17. jason

    how do i turn it back on?

  18. John

    I’ve a question. I’ve got norton internet security and when it’s on. the stock ticker gadget that I have will not refresh with new data. how do I fix that with the firewall?

  19. Kuhne

    The sidebar is not cheesy, I have on it the date, weather, cpu and ram usage (all 4 cores) and a XM radio gadget and a chronix radio gadget. also RSS feeds etc… all this just at the touch of a button. why the hell would this be useless? just more mindless microsoft bashing, thats what it is.

  20. beau

    OK all is well in just disaling the sidebar….one of the first things i did when i got my laptop….but what if you hate it soo much, along with a bunch of other crap that comes with vista, that you want to delete it completely from your computer. It says i dont have the right privilages??? please help mr geek

  21. xiong

    agree with everything “quick info needed” said except the use of “mycrowsloth”. i do like the notes gadget. it’s a good reminder tool; better than post-its.

  22. balaji

    i’ve upgraded to vista a few weeks back. actually vista lite. so my os doesn’t have the sidebar. so uncannily, my vista “does” start faster as compared to the one i use in my office – which has the sidebar enabled. but uncannily, again, i miss it. though i don’t need it for any decoration. i do like its weather and system uptime gadgets. weather – i like to check every hour often, very handy than to fire up my browser, click on a weather site bookmark, and wait for the page to load before i run out of patience. all of you would be surprised to know that the weather gadget shows the current weather for my place almost instantly as the gadget starts. the system uptime reminds me of how much pc time i’ve been using. i can manage my power bills using this. anyway, just as was said before in this post, every user has different needs and usage. but on the ending note, i’d like anyone out here to point me to any link which has the original sidebar for vista (not for xp) download. thanx.

  23. froggygrl

    When i disable mine it goes away but the size of my windows dont recognize that it is gone. I would like to see all of my page on my windows but am unable to and if i maximize the screen it just looks as if i still have the sidebar open how do i fix this?

  24. Heven

    My windows sidebar is COMPLETELY gone, how do i get it all back?

  25. Satanic-Panic

    um, the sidebar can be brought up at any time in vista. click start >> All Programs>> Accessories>> Windows Sidebar. just because you closed it doesn’t mean its gone. its integrated into the OS so its impossible to get rid of. its like IE.

  26. MikeS

    Disabling it don’t even work for me, as soon as I re-boot or unplug/plug in the AC adapter (using laptop) the stupid sidebar comes back. Some of Microsoft’s programs are worse then spyware when it comes to removing them.

  27. aunty christ

    I would not call it mindless microsoft bashing. I truly feel that the sidebar is absolutely useless. I mean it does not offer anything worth a grain of salt. Why would I need another clock or calendar? Everything is here on the web if I really need to search for anything. My task manager tells me my cpu. One thing that actually grinds my gears is that I can not get rid of it.

  28. Mauricio

    If what you say is true, about it being useless, then why did google, apple, yahoo and many others came with their own type of gadgets and sidebars? its because people like them and use them. its not just about having an extra clock. I dont have a clock in it, what I do have is a calendar, a cpu/ram meter, an XP radio gadget that completly rules, RSS headlines, etc… I have many things that are so much more comfortable to look at in the sidebar instead of having to go in a website, in the end its just an option to give you more options of configuring your desktop the way you like. If you trully feel it is useless then that is your opinion and you should not use it, I respect it big time. I myself for example find 99% of iTunes useless, its a big, heavy, cluncky, overrated software and media player, media player classic, winamp and basicaly anyother player you can think of does a greater job but sadly I am stuck with it for some reasons. So yeah I understand what you say, you are entitled to your own opinion, what I find interesting is that you say you can’t get rid of it. all you need to do is follow the instructions in this website, right click on the side bar, go to properties and uncheck “start sidebar when windows starts” and thats it man! if thats not working for you then you have a glitch there somewhere and I recomend just deleting/uninstalling the sidebar altogether.

  29. balaji

    most users complain about the sidebar due to vista’s heavy resource utilization. on my p-d 2.6/512/256mb nvidia geforce, vista just likes to thrash the hdd. even if i disabled the sidebar, there was no significant improvement in boot-up time (more than 7 mins – just bare os and av). i’d also say that microsoft chose to design vista using pure oop c code. the tech babble for the phrase comes out to portability. vista is not only available for intel cpus but also for risc, sun sparc &c. but here again, more than portability, if microsoft had considered speed and usability of ‘old’ hardware, vista would have definitely become as popular as xp had and still is. the crux of os design is not only stable resource management but ease of use as well. microsoft has sacrificed this most important aspect for cheesy gfx – cheesy because mac and linux have long had much better ones without sacrificing robustness, stability and speed. and to add to that, the core of linux – the most stable os around – is still in different assembly for different cpus.

    coming to gfx, the device drivers available for gfx adapters are written in pure assembly. nvidia and ati both still have 90% of the device driver code written in optimized asm. the remaining 10% constitutes the portability code, so as to serve various processor architectures. it’s awfully sad microsoft chose to ignore this important aspect and specify, or rather, dictate, hardware specs. this is no doubt a monopolistic attitude. if only microsoft had scaled down its bloated coding and chosen to add gfx inside the kernel, utilizing the native device driver ‘reads’ and ‘writes’, vista would have been a different picture. needless to say, the whole of windows, os and apps included, are built using the bloated visual studio. ‘built’ because the very concept of ‘designing’ an os has vanished from the microsoft motto. now microsoft ‘builds’ os and releases critical patches! no doubt, many have realized by now what microsoft wants – monopoly, which, sadly, has come to be the post-xp motto.

    personally, i’ve now downgraded and utilized my oem windows xp. for gadgets, thoosje sidebar (http∶//www․thoosje․com) works fine for me. although i personally feel if it could be redesigned in pure assembly, it would definitely be a boon. honestly speaking, my xp boot time is still less than 3 mins (all with avg, win7 theme, 27 extra boot-up tools like sticky notes, winamp agent, realplayer agent, quicktime tray, window transparency fx software – similar to vista’s, styler, qtaddressbar, qttoolbar, analog clock, crashprevent, memmanager, antifreeze and many, many more). and more importantly, i’ve transformed the shell and kernel icons to those of vista – and pure rgb-a ones! so one can imagine the amount of hyperload i’m putting my xp to. for having vista, i’d have had to shell out 4000 bucks just for the hardware.

    but in the end, i’ve no complaints with microsoft. the reason is, xp was also theirs! so i do thank them for providing a good os, though not so stable as win2k, and sans the snazzy gfx vista can boast of. if only users could get together and pressure their demand of getting a all-in-one os like mac or linux, microsoft would probably take notice then. but until then, we’re stuck up with expired tech support and parachuting on our own.

  30. Mauricio

    If Microsoft had the advantage apple has to develop specificaly for the same hardware allways, it wouldnt be such a problem but microsoft designs its OS and then everybody with a pc thinks they can use it and vista is flawed in the way that it needs a powerfull machine to run but believe me, if you have the juice to run vista, it is worth it big time.

    Also, the sidebar is way less heavy than google’s or yahoo’s and easily deactivated. as far as sidebars go, vista’s seem to be one of the lightest ones, I just do not understand complaining for it. simply deactivate it and if your machine is too slow with vista then install xp on it, vista, sadly, is only for higher end machines

  31. Izza

    Vista Sidebar has disappeared from my brand new laptop i have tried every thing to try and start it up but to no avail, Who do I contact Microsoft or can someone help me. What’s the point of a system where part of it doesn’t work, if you had a televison and one of the channels did not work you would return the back to the shop you bought it from.

  32. Chris

    Note, To re-enable the sidebar type SIDEBAR in RUN

    Anyone with gadgets should be aware that even if you disable the sidebar from running when windows starts…the gadgets still start up even tho you cant see them so make sure you deleted the downloaded gadgets before you disable the sidebar….most people dont know this

  33. Simon

    Thanks for the info: I had misguidedly installed Google all sorts to my machine which had taken it over and bloated it. Problem is it also completely took over my sidebar and then when I uninstalled Google it was gone.

    About the gadgets I had running under Google – will they still be in there somewhere running away and grinding my machine to a standstill?

  34. JR

    Though it was a toolbar taking a third of my needed viewing area, I am NOT Vista compatible nor intending to be (gonna take that offer of gratis “downgrade” ASAP) …the solution worked for me as well
    Thanks geek guy!

    I was kicked back though for a “spammy” word.
    Spammy? Maybe the catsmile? Oh well.

  35. Mike

    If you really need to keep Sidebar from running (on my system it would reset the “Start with windows” every time I changed power plans) follow the instructions below:

    1. Take ownership of the \program files\Windows Sidebar folder (using the tool at ).

    2. Change your explorer view settings to show known file extensions (in windows explorer, hit “alt”, click “tools” menu, click “folder options”, click the “view” tab, and uncheck “hide extensions for known file types”).

    3. Change the file extension on Sidebar.exe to .vir or .bk

    4. Bask in the glory that is your computer sans Sidebar!

  36. Beth

    I agree with Bruce.Even when I do what you said.It disappears on desktop but still somehow pushes some of my games so I can’t see the whole game on the screen. HELP

  37. Jack

    Anyone know how to disable it for all users. If I use the method above the turns off for the current user but when someone else logs into the PC they get sidebar :(

  38. erie

    I got this message ” Windows Sidebar has stopped working”.
    ( A problem caused the program to stop working correctly. Windows will close the program and notify you if a solution is available )… How to fix it?? Or where can i download the original windows sidebar for vista not xp ??? thanx

  39. Descry

    I;m facing the same problem as erie…

    I got this message ” Windows Sidebar has stopped working”.
    ( A problem caused the program to stop working correctly. Windows will close the program and notify you if a solution is available )… How to fix it?? Or where can i download the original windows sidebar for vista not xp ??? thanx

  40. Doug

    Like another user, I have a laptop and when I click to disable and not start when windows starts, it still does it anyway the next time I boot. I can’t figure out how to ACTUALLY disable it for good.

  41. Bob

    Will someone leave a useful comment to stop the virus wondows sidebar! I can not get this piece of crap to stop it always come back! Windows YOU SUCK THANK GOD THERE IS MAC!

  42. Hannah

    I completely agree bob no matter how many times i disable it and exit out it always comes back its like pc is trying to torture me with its piece of crap inventions. my school makes everyone use these damn hp laptops and they are driving me insane. thank god i can use my mac laptop next year in college.

  43. Alan

    I’ve also been seriously annoyed at Window’s Sidebar continuing to start up over and over when it comes back from sleep etc. I think I just killed it. Per a note above, I found the sidebar.exe under Program Files/Windows Sidebar. I just renamed the file (added a .BAK extension) (after Oking it a couple times). I haven’t seen the sidebar in 20 minutes and am happy for the moment anyway :) Good luck

  44. GeekyClown

    It is buggy. Mine does the same thing, disable it and it comes right back. Annoying.

  45. srkdon786

    I disabled side bar because it slow my start up plus i keep my gaming and leisures on the right side so sidebar gets in the way.

  46. EdTechie

    Thank you so much. I’m a computer teacher the kids keep opening the sidebar and playing the games when they’re to be working on school projects. Now I can turn it off. WOO! HOO!

  47. christine

    I have tried un-checking the start up box preference in “properties” in the sidebar. It does not work.

    I have used the “Defender” program to attempt to remove as well as disable the sidebar. This does not work either.

    HOW do I permenantly REMOVE this stupid sidebar??

    Does anyone have a real fix? Id so please, do tell!


  48. crabsncancer

    Uh, all you people who are complaining about Windows Sidebar and then praising Mac… you know MAC has this same thing, it’s called Widgets. And if you don’t add any Gadgets onto your Desktop, sidebar is irrelevant. And for the Teacher, maybe if you weren’t such a crappy Teacher and your class so boring, your kids would listen more and stop playing with the crappy Gadget “games” so you put it.

  49. oregon111

    it aint cheesy, it just pisses me off when ‘new technology’ makes my machine run like crap – all because of the equivalent to a fancy hood ornament on a car

    and I am a professional IT person – I can just imagine what ‘Joe Donut’ feels when trying and crying to get his machine to run

  50. lalalalalaa

    thank you sooo much chris. ive bben waiting ages to get it back <3

  51. Rochelle

    THANKS :)

  52. Joseph

    I’ve disabled Sidebar in the Windows Sidebar properties from running on startup; however, it keeps doing it.

  53. Pascal

    Amazing!! Cheers x x

  54. Mary

    Thank you!!! I can’t stand that thing anymore and now it won’t let me close it once it opens.

    Again, thank you. :D

  55. NURUL

    on right clicking there is no option of properties..any one can help me??????????? pls give answers.

  56. Dani

    Seriously, all you have to do is right click somewhere on the sidebar and click ‘close sidebar’. It’s not that hard. Geez.

  57. B Fast

    I am absolutely baffled at the glowing comments about this stupid sidebar. This article tries to tell how to remove it. Why the heck would fans of the stupid thing read the article.

    I for one DETEST the thing! I want to uninstall it. Now I have to search further to figure out how.

  58. kp99

    Slightly different problem. I detest the thing but it’s a shared computer and the others all are ok with it… “I like the clock” ffs what’s wrong with the one at the bottom right corner…

    Anyway I just need to get rid of for me – tried the above solution and no luck – it comes back when rebooted or someone else logs on…..


  59. whoa!

    Dude. Find where sidebar.exe is, become the owner, remove inherited permissions, then give yourself full rights. Delete sidebar.exe and just watch how blazing fast the log-in process becomes. What a relief to finally be rid of Windows Sh!tbar.

  60. Dillon

    Great! I need to disablt this because its slowing my computer wicked. It won’t even load it is just a big black thing and my computer freeses everytime i start it. So if i ever wanted it back is there a way to get it back?

  61. steve

    let me tell u all, just get >>>> Windows 7 <<<<

  62. gfossedal

    hey thanks – worked for me. i hear what “steve” is saying too, but honestly, it feels like admitting defeat to buy a program from a company that’s already sold me a product i don’t like…

    Cheers, G. Fossedal

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