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.

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Lowell is the founder and CEO of How-To Geek. He’s been running the show since creating the site back in 2006. Over the last decade, Lowell has personally written more than 1000 articles which have been viewed by over 250 million people. Prior to starting How-To Geek, Lowell spent 15 years working in IT doing consulting, cybersecurity, database management, and programming work.
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