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Windows 7 tips and tweaks

Access the secret gadget and Sidebar commands

Windows Vista introduced us to the Sidebar and desktop gadgets. These are mini programs that are displayed on the screen underneath regular windows and they provide information, tools, utilities, and even fun and games. In Windows 7 the Sidebar has been hidden and there are simply desktop gadgets. They are available all the time and you don't need to specifically run the Sidebar first. However, the Sidebar still exists and there are some hidden commands that access secret features.

Hold down the Windows key and press R to open the Run box, then type in one of these commands...

sidebar.exe /startTaskman
This displays a special View Gadgets window that is a bit like Task Manager. You can see what gadgets are running and then remove any you don't want.

sidebar.exe /uninstallGadgets
This initially looks like the regular Gadget window that you get when you right click the desktop and select Gadgets. However, at the top is some text that explains how to uninstall a gadget.

sidebar.exe /restoreGadgets
If you have been messing around with gadgets and have got into a mess, you can restore the desktop gadgets that came with Windows with this command.

sidebar.exe /showOnlineGallery
There's not much advantage in using this command and all it does is open Internet Explorer and go to the online Gadget Gallery. You can do that from the gadget window anyway.

sidebar.exe /showGadgets
Show the gadget window. It's easier to right click the desktop and select Gadgets from the menu.

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