Do you use a system sidebar?

Daniel Pataki
Apr 22, 2009
Updated • Jun 1, 2017

With the well developed Google Desktop Sidebar and the Vista Sidebar, putting all your gadgets and websites on a sidebar always visible might be quite tempting and can provide loads of information like email, RSS, weather, notes etc., but do you actually use these features? Does the usefulness outweigh the memory usage?

Update:Microsoft removed sidebar support from all of its recent Windows operating system versions.

It is interesting to note that the two products mentioned here have been retired. Google retired Google Desktop back in 2011 which meant the end for the company's sidebar widgets that you could run on your desktop.

Microsoft improved gadgets under Windows 7 which meant that you could place them freely on the desktop. The company then decided to shut down gadgets when Windows 8 came along, and while it is still possible to run them on Windows 8 or previous versions of Windows, support is dwindling.

If you like gadgets, then your next best bet is Rainmeter, a highly customizable desktop tool that supports quite a diverse selection of widgets that you can display on your desktop. End

Personally I like sidebars, but for some reason I don't use them. I have a pretty wide screen and a system which has plenty of memory to eat, but to me the cleaner my screen, the less stuff I have to focus on, the better.

I never really liked the Vista sidebar, it's just too "big", it looks a bit clunky sometimes, but there are some good widgets you can put in there, so it's not all bad.

GoogleSidebar Vista

I pretty much like Google's sidebar, and it also has some good widgets, the best feature is probably the integrated hard drive and email search, which really can be a savior sometimes. It also seems that there are better widgets for the Google Sidebar, but that might be just my perception. In my case I don't really find the widgets so useful that I would need to see them permanently on a sidebar, what's your take on all this, do you perhaps use another sidebar?

Do you use a system sidebar?
Article Name
Do you use a system sidebar?
Daniel wants to know if you use a sidebar with gadgets on your operating system, or if you prefer a clean desktop instead without widgets.
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  1. Lowlander said on April 23, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    I am with you Scott. Been using Desktop Sidebar since….Win98SE although some addons needed .net. It just always seems to have been there and you do not lose any real estate as the choices of autohide or manual hide are there. I just had a good look at it right now and posed the question, is there anything totally unnecessary on it. Can I do without Keyboard State for my Logitech wireless desktop with no visible means of showing which locks are on, or my DVD ejector, or my Alarms, or my convenient Calculator, or my many Shortcuts, my RSS feeds, my Notes. Many more features but for me tops is the screensaver, Microsoft !Plus 3D Aquarium running with tiny resource in 3cm. x 2cm beats watching a DVD in Vista Sidebar in same size. Call me old-fashioned, some things are just too good to change.

  2. Billy Girlardo said on April 23, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    no sidebars, no toolbars

    I used to use Samurize, but switched to Konfabulator’s widgets when Y! bought them. They take up my 2nd monitor while the rotating desktop on my main monitor is always covered up anyway by FF maxed out.

    Here’s a shot I took yesterday to show a client the new Analytics widget from Desktop Reporting:

  3. Genisis said on April 23, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Nah….useless eye candy IMO. The side bar was M$ useless attempt at copying macs icon bar at the bottom of the screen as far as Im concerned. It does nothing but use resources and memory and desktop space. Wigets are toys….useless toys.

  4. Steven said on April 23, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    I don’t like sidebars as they don’t seem to serve any real function except to look cool. The nearest I get to the concept was using things like True Launch Bar to be able to place menus on the quicklaunch bar. I used that for years but recently ditched it for KSoft’s runme which I have sliding out from the left side.
    Like Latz, I have my task bar hidden in order to use the full screen for apps (1600 x 1200).

  5. Umair said on April 23, 2009 at 10:56 am

    i constantly monitor my RAM and CPU usage and a sidebar gadget is a great way of doing that.

    i dont understand how people define waste of RAM. i think if you have plenty of *unused* RAM, THAT is a waste of RAM

  6. szekelya said on April 23, 2009 at 8:49 am

    This is how I check system stats / weather / mail:
    (Go to full view and check the downmost 14 px bar below the dock.)

    I also have a large screen with 1600×1200 resolution, but I dumped the Vista sidebar. Although I have 4 gigs of RAM, I just feel inappropriate to give ~60 megs for such an app.
    I’m into Samurize, which is a lot more flexible than any other metering application. I had huge Samurize configs earlier, but by now I realized I just don’t need that much graphics, big hystograms or piecharts.
    This one is using 12 px icons, and 1 px progressbars. All config way below 4 megs.

  7. Rico said on April 23, 2009 at 8:48 am

    Desktop widgets and similar utilities seem to be a very divisive issue among all groups of users. i used to use Konfabulator before it was Yahoo! Widget Engine back on XP, and early into my time with Vista. i stopped when i realized that for quick data lookups like stock or weather info, i could very quickly get it in Firefox without the overhead of a widget engine. There’s also the option of RSS updates and with an addon like RSS Ticker in Firefox, data is scrolled across the top or bottom of your browser window.

    For things like quick notetaking, there’s tons of sticky note apps, or notepad replacements. i use Notepad+ and have a loose system where i keep a few text documents on the desktop. i use Nokia PC Suite for basic PIM functions since i use a Nokia phone. Any other feature i might use from a widget is either built into Windows itself, some app i use, or is better suited for my purposes by some piece of tightly-coded freeware.

    One thing i didn’t use more than a couple of days was Windows Sidebar. While there seem to be a few widgets that contain lower level OS functionality than that of other widget engines, Windows Sidebar uses roughly twice the RAM as Yahoo! Widget Engine with similar widgets, and there’s a lesser selection of widgets. Sidebar also lacks the convenient HUD mode for quickly displaying widgets.

  8. Latz said on April 23, 2009 at 8:06 am

    I don’t use a side bar. Au contrair, I’ve set up my desktop so that my apps can use the entire screen (even no taskbar). Instead I’ve got a second screen where all the more or less important information is displayed. I can look there if I want but I’m not distracted by blinking icons if I look at my main screen.

  9. garbanzo said on April 23, 2009 at 6:19 am

    while i prefer using Samurize or Rainmeter, i’m stuck using the sidebar in Windows 7 because the ‘pin to desktop’ feature in other gadget apps doesn’t work with the Aero Peek feature that lets you glance at the desktop.

  10. nXqd said on April 23, 2009 at 4:16 am

    No I don’t. I’ve found that it’s a mess :D
    I just need my rainlendar on my desktop :)

  11. DanTe said on April 23, 2009 at 3:59 am

    I have top of the line systems and yet I don’t use sidebars. I find them useless: oooh a clock (versus on on the desk), oooh a calendar (versus Outlook), oooh pretty pictures (like I don’t have screensavers). Or I find them unnerving in a paranoid way: why are they logging out? is there a back door?

  12. Swanie said on April 23, 2009 at 3:27 am

    I don’t like sidebars. They are cool for a while but after that it’s just a waste of space and pc resources

  13. gokudomatic said on April 23, 2009 at 1:46 am

    sidebar seems attractive, but after I discovered launchy, what’s the need of a sidebar? to see the weather in a glance? I do that once a day. To have quicklaunch? launchy does better. To have all the process and computer usage? hardly need of it, when the standard taskbar and process explorer in tray do the same. RSS? just a way to be distracted from the work I have to do. Email? Tray again. Multiple desktops? never worked perfectly in XP, no matter which trick was used. Maybe the calendar, but I’m not as busy as that to need to see in real time my agenda.

    No, sorry, I don’t see the use of a sidebar. Maybe as a color picker?

  14. Shane said on April 23, 2009 at 1:18 am

    Like Daniel, I too have a huge screen and plenty of memory for a sidebar, but I rarely run it (my preference is Google). I once used it regularly, but I stopped with the advent of tabbed browsing.

    I would just as soon have several tabs open than to have a “messier” sidebar running. I found that more often than not, when I access a gadget in the sidebar, ultimately it’s going to take me to a webpage anyway.

    I prefer the extra screen real estate. And the simpler, the better – that’s why I use the awesome uber-fast Google Chrome!

  15. Rarst said on April 23, 2009 at 12:30 am

    Nah, I hate sidebars. They are too small to contain really useful stuff but big enough to eat good chunk of screen.

    All indicators I need are in thin floating bar made in Samurize. Rest is regular apps.

  16. Roman ShaRP said on April 23, 2009 at 12:19 am

    No, I do not use any sidebar and I don’t like the widgets.

    I use Windows PowerPro bar in the top window caption area (it can create a launcher sidebars too) , with launch buttons for some apps, system functions, configurable timers and informers:
    – clock (to turn of the clock from the tray)
    – free memory
    – uptime (at home, at work I don’t use uptime informer).
    It also have nice scheduler, function-rich hotkey manager and ton of another features.
    More to it: Powerpro configurator is standalone application, so the PowerPro main app doesn’t require much memory.

    The Bat MailTicker works for the mail,
    Ctrl-Shift-G global hotkey in Charu3 clipboard manager – for googling anything what I had selected
    Tree-like multitab notebook SEOnote – for notes.

  17. Daniel said on April 23, 2009 at 12:11 am

    Eh, i’m using Windows Sidebar since I built my new system, but it isnt a problem on space because i’m running three monitors. Seems to be a memory hog though…

    I use to use desktop sidebar, but I guess now I have just gotten lazy and stuck with the vista side bar

  18. Scott said on April 23, 2009 at 12:03 am

    Desktop Sidebar is still the best. More configurations than either Google or Vista sidebars and uses a whole lot less in the way of resources.

    My favorite app since 2004.

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