Some people liked it, and some didn’t like it. Wherever you find yourself in this range, Microsoft introduced us to the sidebar in Windows Vista.
However, many users upgrading to Windows 7 were surprised that the sidebar was not part of the Aero desktop. Find out what happened to the sidebar in Windows 7 and how to use gadgets in Windows 7 without it.
Windows Vista Sidebar
The sidebar, introduced in Windows Vista, was where another new feature of the new operating system resided. Gadgets are small programs created from XML, HTML, and images that can be placed in the sidebar in Windows Vista.
Unfortunately, many people did not find the sidebar or the gadgets on it too useful. This was especially true because when Vista was released. Many home users lacked widescreen monitors and the sidebar was taking up too much valuable desktop space.
The disappearance of the sidebar when not in use primarily negates the purpose of placing gadgets on the desktop because they weren’t easily visible when needed.
Windows 7 and Sidebar
Recognizing that this was not well received in Vista, Microsoft radically redesigned the sidebar in Windows 7. Gadgets are now on the desktop, where users can move them anywhere on the screen, unlike other windows such as Windows Explorer.
One of the reasons for the overhaul was to make room for another new feature in Windows 7. As the name suggests, Aero Snap is a feature of Aero Desktop that allows users to snap windows and programs to the left and right of the screen by pulling a button the window to the outer edges. Pulling a window to the top of the screen allows the user to instantly maximize any window.
It’s likely that the sidebar, with its auto-hide ability, will get in the way of Aero Snap. Hence, gadgets are now located anywhere the user wants them to be, as floats, rather than statically attached to a special container.
Sidebar Tools in Windows 7
In truth, Microsoft hasn’t removed the sidebar from Windows 7. It is, it just isn’t a static container anymore. The gadgets on your computer are located in one of two folders. This is for all users:
C: Program Files Windows Sidebar Gadgets
and this is for each individual computer user:
C: Users AppData Local Microsoft Windows Sidebar Gadgets
where is the name of an individual Windows 7 account. Note that in both cases, the gadgets are located in the Windows sidebar folder.
How does Windows Sidebar work in Windows 7?
As stated above, the Sidebar exists in Windows 7; it just works differently to enable the Aero Snap feature. Placing gadgets on the desktop means floating applications, not binding them to one special area.
However, if you place the gadget on the Windows 7 desktop, you can snap them to the sides and corners. In fact, you can align them as if they were in a sidebar container, like in Windows Vista, and they will be anchored to each other as well.
Please note, if you line up your gadgets in a row and snap them to the right side of the screen and to each other, you will end up creating a virtual sidebar like in Windows Vista, without the hassle of statically linking them to the sidebar container.
It’s not a big revelation, but given the power and popularity of the Aero Snap feature, the loss of a sidebar container due to the way Windows 7 handles gadgets is a great compromise. If you have all your gadgets set up and don’t want to risk losing them, be sure to back up your Windows 7 gadgets for security purposes. If you no longer need them, you can easily disable gadgets in Windows 7. Enjoy!