One of the few tangible improvements Windows Vista made over its legendary predecessor Windows XP was the inclusion of customizable desktop gadgets that could do a variety of useful tasks, from displaying the date, time, and weather, serving as a personal organizer, or even providing some relief and distraction in the form of simple games. However, like most new features introduced for Windows Vista, the execution of this good idea has left much to be desired.
Many Windows Vista users have been running into problems with their gadgets, with maladies ranging from calendars displaying nothing but a blank field to gadgets that simply freeze up and refuse to do nothing. Naturally, this has frustrated many a computer user who has come to rely on these programs for their everyday convenience. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to get those pesky sidebar gadgets working again.
Solution 1: Start Over With a Clean Slate
One thing you could do is restore your gadgets to their original state. Fortunately, this doesn’t require anything as dramatic as a full hard drive reformat. All you need to do is access the Add or Remove Programs dialog in your system’s Control Panel folder. Somewhere on the right side of this window will be an option marked “Turn Windows Feature On or Off”. Click on this link to reveal a list of various Windows features. Uncheck the one marked “Windows Gadgets Platform”. Now exit back to the desktop and restart your PC. Once your PC has restarted, you’ll notice that the gadgets sidebar will be missing as a result of the change you made. Now open up the All or Remove Programs Window again in order to turn the Windows Gadget Platform back on. Hopefully, the act of turning the service off and then back on again will refresh it back to its original state.
Solution 2: Registry Fix
Your gadget’s troubles may also stem from a registry entry that might have been inadvertently corrupted. While this may sound rather intimidating to people unfamiliar with the inner workings of their computers, the fix is actually quite simple.
First, turn off the sidebar process by accessing the Task Manager. You can do this by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del, selecting the Task Manager option, then selecting the tab marked Processes. Find the sidebar.exe process and then end it.
Next, click the Windows Start button and type in the word ‘regedit’ into the search bar. This will open the registry editor. Using the navigation bar on the left side of the window, make your way to the following key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings\Zones\. Delete this entry, and then restart your computer. If all goes well, when the sidebar application loads again, everything should be back to normal.
Solution 3: Restore Point
The state of your gadgets could be symptomatic of a much more large-scale problem affecting your PC. One thing you could do to get rid of any system-wide troubles is to make use of Windows Restore Points. Simply select a restore point that predates your problems and have Windows Vista roll back to that time. This ought to take care of any troubles you may be experiencing with your gadget sidebar.