Is your Windows Sidebar (Windows Desktop Gadgets) crashing after adding a third-party gadget, with the error "Windows Desktop Gadgets has stopped working" or "Windows Sidebar has stopped working" (Windows Vista) at every start? You can stop the offending gadget from loading by editing the Windows Sidebar Gadgets settings file. Here are the instructions, which apply to Windows 7 and Windows Vista.
If Sidebar.exe process is running, you wouldn’t be able to write to its settings file. Launch Task Manager (taskmgr.exe), select the sidebar.exe process and terminate it if it’s running.
Click Start, type the following path in the Search box and hit ENTER.
(You can type it in the Run dialog as well.)
The above location is where the desktop gadgets store their configuration information, in a file named Settings.ini
First, make a copy of Settings.ini
Double-click Settings.ini to open it in Notepad.
Configuration information for the last installed desktop gadget is usually located at the end of the INI file. Using the PrivateSetting_GadgetName line as the hint, locate the corresponding [Section #], select all lines underneath and delete it. Trim any blank lines that may have resulted from the deletion.
Then, move to the top of the INI file, and delete the Section# line that references the offending gadget. As you’ve removed the entries in [Section 5], also delete the following line:
Trim any blank lines that may have resulted from the deletion, and save the Settings.ini file.
Right-click on the Desktop, and click Gadgets. This starts the Sidebar.exe process and shows the gadgets listed in the Settings.ini file.
[Windows Vista Users] The above UI is unavailable in Windows Vista. If using Windows Vista, manually launch Sidebar.exe from Start, Search box or via the Run dialog. This starts the Windows Sidebar and loads the previously added gadgets, except the offending one.
Reset Windows Sidebar (Desktop Gadgets) Configuration to Defaults
If you don’t want to go through all the hassle, simply rename or delete the Settings.ini and restart Sidebar.exe. It creates a brand new Settings.ini file, that means the customizations for your Sidebar/gadgets will be lost and you need to add the gadgets manually and reconfigure again.
About the author
Ramesh Srinivasan founded Winhelponline.com back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in the ITeS industry — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP [2003 to 2012] who contributes to various Windows support forums.