How-To Geek

How To Repair Your Crashed or Hanging Vista Sidebar

If you install a lot of different Vista Gadgets you might have come across a situation where your Vista Sidebar no longer is working correctly, or possibly even crashing or (more frequently) just hanging. You can reset the sidebar back to the default settings with a very simple tweak that we’ll explain here.

This tweak is as simple as backing up a file and then renaming it… and when the Sidebar starts back up again it will reset to the default settings.

Note: By resetting to the default settings, you’ll have to add your gadgets back to the sidebar. Hardly a problem if your sidebar doesn’t even work anymore.

Closing the Sidebar

You’ll want to make sure that the sidebar process is completely closed before you do anything else… and just because you don’t see the sidebar doesn’t mean it’s not running in the background.

First, right-click on the Sidebar icon in the system tray, and then choose Exit. (wallpaper found here)


You should receive a message asking if you really want to close, which you do.


Next you’ll want to check Task Manager to make sure that there are no sidebar.exe processes running that shouldn’t be. If there are, just right-click and use End Process on each of them.


Resetting the Sidebar to Defaults

Open up a windows explorer window and then paste the following into the location bar:

%localappdata%\microsoft\Windows Sidebar

This will open up the Sidebar gadgets folder, where you should see a file named Settings.ini.


You’ll want to rename this file to something else, or at least make a backup of the file elsewhere. This file contains your current sidebar configuration.


Now once you re-launch Sidebar from the Start Menu, you’ll notice that a new Settings.ini is created immediately.


If you are still having issues with a gadget, you can open up the Gadgets folder that you see above, and you’ll see a list of all user-installed gadgets:


You can delete any of these folders if you want (always backup your files first).


With any luck, you should now have a working sidebar.

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 10/17/08

Comments (39)

  1. Jason Ross

    I had the same issue. The way I solved it was by running the command prompt as a true administrator and typing in these commands:

    cd \Program Files\Windows Sidebar
    regsvr32 -u sbdrop.dll
    regsvr32 -u wlsrvc.dll
    regsvr32 atl.dll
    regsvr32 sbdrop.dll
    regsvr32 wlsrvc.dll

  2. stevefree1

    Always wondered!


  3. chino

    I have a HP Pavilion Entertainment PC DV6000 Please I want to know if you have the answer to my question My laptop was working perfectly and I was doing a tattoo on a client and the screen went off and then I tried to turn it on again and nothing happend only the orange little lite that tells you if the wireless lite is working or not but the power button and the board doesn’t light up nor turn on and the screen is blank I only can see a black screen like when it is off not even the fan on the laptop turns on. Please tell if there is anything that I can do or if this is a bug that come3 with this type of computer I at first believed that it was on sleep mode or hibernate mode on its own. please someone send me a email.

  4. VistaUser

    thanks it worked!
    had to reset my gadgets how i wanted them but at least they are back!

  5. Ville

    Thanks! It was very easy way to repair my computer sidebar =)

  6. Brandi

    Thank you so much for your help! I could not figure out for the life of me how to get my sidebar for vista to work. It was frozen and it messed everthing up when we tried to use the computer! We had to stop the process everytime we would start up the computer. I will always look to you all now if I have another vista problem. You are awesome!

  7. Garth Snyder

    Thanks both to the OP and to commenter Jason Ross for the excellent information. Unfortunately these measures don’t fix my particular crash, but these were useful things to try.

  8. Zhang WeiSheng

    Hi, I hope to get some help here.
    I use the Notes feature in Windows Sidebar and found it greatly convenient and useful.

    However i realize that whenever i accidentally click on the “x” and close the gadget, this operation happens to delete all the stored data i have in notes as well. Re-adding the gadget seems to give me a completely blank notes.

    This is highly frustrating and un-dependable. is there any way around it?

    Thank you.

  9. Tylar F

    Thanks so much, I have been searching for days, and finally, I fixed my sidebar, I accidently left an autoclicker on my add gadget thingy, and so It made my sidebar unusable, thanks a lot!

  10. aero

    Nice post, thanks! Followed your steps, didn’t solve my problem, but it cleaned the Setting file, which was a good thing. My problem was that the “Add Gadget” command did nothing, The gadgets window would not open. After two days of searching, I deleted all gadgets from the Gadets folder and realised that one of them was causing the problem. Now everything works!

  11. Computerhjælp

    Thanks pal!!

  12. ahsan

    Hi i have a problem with slideshow gadget in windows 7 ultimate..
    Slide show works fine but the problem is i cant view the picture by pressing the view button in slideshow gadget..

    I did the same method u mentioned above but in vain..

    Kindly tell me alternative method to solve this problem plzzzzz

  13. stevieb

    hi just tried the fix but still just have blank slide show option boxes. i have deleted a few files such as my photographs to clean up the clumsy file system. i have just installed office97 with all the packs. and now the slide show doesnt work – all i get are orange marigolds. i am using google picasa3. any help would be appreciated – i am not a computer whiz

  14. chandra


    Your post was really helpful. It solved my problem. Thanks for the wonderful post. Somehow the shortcut changed to D drive and my sidebar was not opening. With the info you posted I now understand how it works.

    Thx again,

  15. Faisal

    my bar at the bottom become big how to make it small it’s on my laptop

  16. Wendyful

    Worked great! Thanks!

  17. Luke

    I installed a gadget that messed my sidebar up and after looking everywhere for a fix I came across this and found that it worked! I am very thankful to you for posting this!!!

  18. Ashley

    Yes i still cant figure out my sidebar cause i cant find a Windows explorer also i tried to reset my google sidebar but it still wont let me in it says that Settings.ini. is being used by another process. Close the other program and then click Retry, or click Cancel to exit sidebar. but i have no idea what the other process is. plz help

  19. J A

    I’ve accidentally closed the ‘Notes’ gadget from my Windows Vista sidebar and lost all my notes. How can I restore my saved notes?

  20. where is the location bar help please

    I would like to repair my sidebar issues but i don’t know where to find the location bar after opening the windows explorer window

  21. jordy

    Please help!!!!!!
    I would like to fix my sidebar issues but I don’t know where to find the location bar after opening windows so that I can do the pasting

  22. dolezsar

    THANK YOU i was so pissed off at my computer because i could not figure out how to fix this,

  23. vagelas

    It really worked! I thought that my sidebar was damaged after some problems with the electricity. But this really worked! Thank you very much!! Oh by the way, i have windows 7 ultimate X64 so it is not only for Vista! ;)

  24. Kristine

    Awesome! It really worked, Thank you! I thought that my sidebar was damaged when I added the stock quote gadget and things started to go wonkey. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! :) I have a HP Pavillion and running Vista 64, sv pack 1. This worked like a charm to fix it.

  25. Shweta

    Wow!!! thnks alot…….I thought there ws no hope left other thn formatng my systm….. :)

  26. Terry Hollett

    A friend called me who had the same problem. Tried it but it did not work. I found other info about editing the file. I deleted the following:

    [Section 1]
    PrivateSetting_GadgetName=%PROGRAMFILES%\windows sidebar\gadgets\Clock.gadget
    [Section 2]
    PrivateSetting_GadgetName=%PROGRAMFILES%\windows sidebar\gadgets\SlideShow.Gadget
    [Section 3]
    PrivateSetting_GadgetName=%PROGRAMFILES%\windows sidebar\gadgets\RSSFeeds.Gadget

    The problem was the clock gadget. It kept crashing the sidebar. Found this out by adding one at a time. Your method, the file was recreated with the clock gadget automatically setup. So it kept crashing. Funny thing I downloaded another clock gadget from the internet, same thing happened. But the other gadgets worked OK.

  27. tianna redduck

    This did not help at all what so ever

  28. The Mask

    GREAT job
    worked like a charm

    keep up the good “clear” work (pictures were a great help)

  29. Eddy

    After having deinstalled McAfee, I ran in the same problem. A lot of searching on the Internet made me run into a discussion forum on McAfee-issues, where a possible solution was given. I tried it and it worked!

    The link to this discussion is as follows:

    The solution is very brief, but effective (for me that was). I only made it some more complex, by closing also the sidebar.exe in Task Manager. What then results is:

    1. Close windows sidebar.
    2. Type the magic and open Task manager.
    3. In the Services section, delete both entries named sidebar.exe.
    4. Click Start, type cmd in the search box, right-click on the cmd icon and select .
    5. In the elevated command line, type the following commands one at a time and click on the OK’s:
    • regsvr32 msxml3.dll
    • regsvr32 scrrun.dll
    • regsvr32 jscript.dll
    6. Click Start, type sidebar in the search box, and click on the icon.

    You will have to restore the used gadgets.

    I hope this will helpo some others (who have stopped using McAfee).

  30. techtrodude

    awesome technique liked it very much
    tanx a lot

  31. dannyb86

    top stuff works perfect nice one guys been stuck with that problem for weeks.

  32. KC


  33. irisdawney

    thank you soooooooooooooooooo much…you solved my problem dude. nice works!!

  34. Walross

    Hello on my Vista side bar could not oppend ”add gadgets”.

    I had try but if i click” add gadgets ” nothing happend.

    i can record a video so you can see.

    Help plzz

  35. Yan Torexis

    Thanksss sooooo much!!!
    It worked with my Windows 7 Ultimate. You’re brilliant!!!

  36. Muddassir

    I have done this but nothing happens :(. i think it need to be repair please tell me from where i can Reinstall it?

  37. Jim

    my sidebar loads with weird displays only the shutdown gadget looks right
    calendar is all squished to side
    clock doesn’t show

    tried reading thru this
    1-tried renaming sidebar.ini doesn’t fix
    2. tried to do the regsvr32 but I have no sbdrop
    I running 64 bit vista does that change anything

  38. Zahid ali khan,SWCC,AL KHOBAR

    Search everywhere for a fix since 6 months,I came across this and found that it worked! wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

  39. jcvdb

    Worked great! Thanks!

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