Advanced Sidebar Configuration Options in Vista

Posted: August 21, 2009 in Vista
Tags:


Although the Sidebar configuration user interface is fairly complete, there are a few

things you can’t easily do. Behind the scenes, however, the Windows Sidebar utilizes

special configuration files named settings.ini to determine all of its configuration possibilities.

If you don’t mind taking a small risk by editing these files with a text editor

such as Notepad, you can perform various configuration tasks that are impossible

with the standard Sidebar UI.

Be sure to back up any files you’ll be editing before making changes. You’ll also want

to quit Sidebar before editing these files.

There are two versions of settings.ini. The first is devoted to system-wide configuration

options and default settings and is located in C:\Program Files\Windows Sidebar

by default. If you right-click this file and choose Edit, you’ll see the contents of this file,

which should resemble the following:

[Root]

SettingsVersion=00.00.00.01

SidebarShowState=Imploded

SidebarDockSide=2

Section0=1

Section1=2

Section2=3

SidebarDockedPartsOrder=0x1,0x2,0x3

[Section 1]

PrivateSetting_GadgetName=%PROGRAMFILES%\windows

sidebar\gadgets\RecycleBin.gadget

PrivateSetting_Enabled=true

[Section 2]

PrivateSetting_GadgetName=%PROGRAMFILES%\windows

sidebar\gadgets\Launcher.gadget

PrivateSetting_Enabled=true

[Section 3]

PrivateSetting_GadgetName=%PROGRAMFILES%\windows

sidebar\gadgets\SlideShow.gadget

PrivateSetting_Enabled=true

A second version of the Sidebar settings.ini file is available for each user. This file is

located in C:\Users\[your user name]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Sidebar by

default. This file has a similar structure, but could be much longer depending on how

much you’ve configured Windows Sidebar. Here’s an example of what it could look like:

[Root]

SettingsVersion=00.00.00.01

SidebarShowState=Imploded

SidebarDockSide=2

SidebarDockedPartsOrder=0x2,0x3,

SidebarAlwaysOnTop=true

SidebarDockMonitor=0

PickerPosX=386

PickerPosY=233

Section0=1

Section1=2

Section2=3

[Section 1]

PrivateSetting_GadgetName=C:%5CProgram%20Files%5CWindows%20Sidebar%5CGad

gets%5CworldClock.Gadget

PrivateSetting_Enabled=true

PrivateSetting_GadgetTopmost=false

PrivateSetting_SidebarDockedState=Not%20Docked

clockName=Eastern%20Time

clockText=

timeZoneIndex=13

timeZoneBias=0

dayToNight=True

secondsEnabled=False

SettingExist=True

PrivateSetting_GadgetDropLocationX=1078

PrivateSetting_GadgetDropLocationY=179

[Section 2]

PrivateSetting_GadgetName=C:%5CProgram%20Files%5CWindows%20Sidebar%5CGad

gets%5CRSS.Gadget

PrivateSetting_Enabled=true

PrivateSetting_SidebarDockedState=Docked

PrivateSetting_GadgetDropLocationX=257

PrivateSetting_GadgetDropLocationY=859

rssFeedPath=Internet%20Explorer%20Team%20Blog

rssFeedUrl=http:%2F%2Fgo.microsoft.com%2Ffwlink%2F%3FLinkId=58643

PrivateSetting_GadgetTopmost=false

[Section 3]

PrivateSetting_GadgetName=C:%5CProgram%20Files%5CWindows%20Sidebar%5CGad

gets%5CRSS.Gadget

PrivateSetting_Enabled=true

PrivateSetting_SidebarDockedState=Docked

PrivateSetting_GadgetDropLocationX=1433

PrivateSetting_GadgetDropLocationY=420

rssFeedPath=Internet%20Explorer%20Team%20Blog

rssFeedUrl=http:%2F%2Fgo.microsoft.com%2Ffwlink%2F%3FLinkId=58643

PrivateSetting_GadgetTopmost=false

Let’s examine a few of these settings. The SidebarShowState option is set to Imploded

in the code example. This means that the Sidebar will be displayed normally, and not

in front of other windows. SidebarDockSide is set to 2, which is the right side of the

screen. If you change this number to 1, the Windows Sidebar will display on the left.

In addition to the options you see here, there are a few other undocumented options.

For example, if you’d like a certain gadget to never appear in the Add Gadgets windows,

you could simply find the gadget in C:\Program Files\Windows Sidebar\Gadgets

and delete it, but what if you wanted it to be available to other users? In this case, you

could simply add a line like the following to your user’s version of settings.ini:

PickerDefaultPackageSkipList=SlideShow.Gadget,worldClock.Gadget

This particular code would only make the Clock gadget unavailable. Obviously, there

are many more settings possibilities. It’s also likely that an enterprising software

developer will come up with a TweakUI-style application that will provide the same

functionality.

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