The Windows Sidebar is a new feature on the desktop, introduced with Windows Vista
(ref. 1 and Fig. 1 below).
Figure 1 - Windows Vista Sidebar
The Sidebar consists of Gadgets, which are small programs that display some information.
In Fig. 1 above, we have three Gadgets - a clock, a slideshow, and a news ticker.
You can also add or remove gadgets from the Sidebar (ref. 2),
and even create your own gadgets (ref. 3).
While not the most important feature in Vista, the Sidebar does offer some utility,
so it is somewhat disconcerting when it disappears for no clear reason.
I was setting up a new laptop the other day, and it happened - the Windows Sidebar disappeared (Fig. 2 below).
Figure 2 - Sidebar disappered!!
In fact this was the third time it had happened, on different systems, and the last two times it happened
just after I uninstalled Google Desktop.
There is some flaw in the Google Desktop uninstall process that makes the Sidebar disappear.
What did not work
I did a web search, and while the problem seems quite common, the answer was not clear.
Most of the fixes were either not applicable or seemed too complex, so I decided to try on my own.
As a first attempt, I located the "Windows Sidebar" control panel and double-clicked on it.
You will find this in Start -> Control Panel -> Classic View -> Windows Sidebar (Fig. 3 below).
Figure 3 - Windows Sidebar Control Panel
This brought up the Sidebar dialog (Fig. 4).
Figure 4 - Sidebar Control Panel Dialog.
The option to "Start Sidebar when Windows starts" was un-checked for some reason.
I "checked" it as shown in Fig. 4, then clicked OK to save the changes, and rebooted the computer.
Unfortunately, the Sidebar was still missing after the reboot.
I checked the Sidebar Control Panel, and the option to "Start Sidebar when Windows starts" was still
checked (Fig. 4).
On a hunch, I "checked" the box labeled "Sidebar is always on top of other windows" and clicked on OK (Fig. 5).
Figure 5 - Putting Sidebar on top
Somewhat unexpectedly, the Sidebar appeared on the Desktop (Fig. 6).
Figure 6 - Sidebar is back.
The problem was not completely solved, because I did not want the Sidebar on top all the time.
It would waste valuable desktop space by being on top of other more useful Windows.
Next, I went back to the Sidebar Control Panel, and un-checked the option labeled
"Sidebar is always on top of other windows" (Fig. 7).
Figure 7 - Sidebar not on top always.
When I clicked on OK, the Sidebar stayed on the screen (Fig. 8), and also was no longer the topmost
I could tell this from the transluscent nature of the Sidebar background (compare Figs. 8 and 6).
Figure 8 - Sidebar not on top always.
When I rebooted the machine, the Sidebar was still there, and not the topmost window.
The problem was solved.
To summarize, here are the steps to solve the problem:
- Open the Sidebar Control Panel
- "Check" the option "Start Sidebar when Windows starts"
- "Check" the option "Sidebar is always on top of other windows"
- Click "OK". The Sidebar should appear.
- Open the Sidebar Control Panel
- "Un-check" the option "Sidebar is always on top of other windows"
- Click OK. Sidebar should stay, and no longer topmost.
I have done this on three or four different computers, and it has worked each time.
As I recall, in each case the problem was caused by uninstalling some software via the "Programs and Features"
In two of the cases the problem happened immediately after uninstalling Google Desktop.
I have not yet discovered what makes the Sidebar "hide" when certain programs are uninstalled.
It is also possible it could happen for other reasons, and this fix may not work for all cases.
- Windows Sidebar
- Windows Sidebar Gadgets http://vista.gallery.microsoft.com/vista/SideBar.aspx
- Gadget Development http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa965850(VS.85).aspx
(in order from older to newest)