Fix for Gadget display issues after IE11 Installation on Windows 7

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 18, 2013
Internet Explorer

When I reviewed the Internet Explorer 11 final release for Windows 7, I never expected it to become this popular. The core reason for this was not the availability of the latest version of IE11 on Microsoft's most popular operating system Windows 7, but the fact that a lot of users had issues with it.

Several users reported that desktop widgets were missing or not displaying properly anymore after the browser was updated to Internet Explorer 11.

The browser did not cause any issues on Windows 8 in this regard, which is understandable considering that Microsoft did remove the gadgets option from the desktop part of the operating system.

So what is the fix? Apparently, gadget display issues are caused by DPI settings that are not set to default values.

internet explorer 11 dpi issue
DPI setting Windows 7

You can check your system's DPI settings in the following way (on Windows 7):

  1. Right-click on a blank spot on your desktop and select Personalize from the context menu that opens up.
  2. This opens the Personalization control panel applet.
  3. Click on Display in the lower left corner of the screen under "See also".
  4. The page that opens highlights the selected DPI setting.

If you have selected Medium or Larger, or modified the DPI in the Registry for even higher values, you will run into gadget display errors on the system.

To test if this is really the cause switch the setting to 100% and log off and on again. The gadgets should display fine now on the system. You can modify the setting again at any time though.

So, the core fix is to change the DPI setting to the default value. While that makes the gadgets appear again in the right location and without display issues, it may also reduce the usability of the system for you.

It seems possible to modify individual gadgets instead to make them compatible. The core reason for them not being displayed properly on the system appears to be DPI locking.

The Fix

Ghacks reader DrDivan55 found a way to resolve the issue for individual gadgets without having to modify the system's DPI setting in the process.

  1. Close the gadget you want to modify from the sidebar. No need to kill the whole sidebar process. Copy the original gadget.xml file to a temporary folder of your choice. Open it with notepad.
  2. Find & entirely delete the row containing the tag:
    Do not leave an empty row in the script, just delete the whole row that has that tag. Setting the tag to autoscale (e.g. (autoscaleDPI)true(/autoscaleDPI)) will not help unless someone wants to play around and modify the whole gadget script which includes modifying the other files in that folder. I will experiment with that when I have the time & if I succeed I will post a solution.
  3. Use a program like Unlocker to rename the original file adding a ".bak" extension (e.g. gadget.xml.bak). Unlocker couldn't find the locking process for me, but asked what I wanted to do with the file, so I chose rename. Once you do that, Unlocker seems to unlock the whole folder. So it's easy to go to the next step now.
  4. Move the modified file back to the original folder. If access is denied just use Unlocker again-this time to move the modified file.
  5. Start the gadget you modified. It should display correctly now, but in a smaller size than the other gadgets that were not affected.

If someone has custom language packs installed, don't forget to modify the XML file in the corresponding language folders.

Official site for Unlocker:


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  1. Greatfon said on March 18, 2020 at 5:49 am

    Restart your computer, then open the web page again. Restarting clears the computer memory and memory cache. Simply restarting your computer frequently resolves display issues.

  2. Shweta said on November 13, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    Thank you so much…. setting the DPI to default solved the problem. I had tried all the solutions given on different sites and given up.

  3. Mike said on February 14, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    Or, just change the owner and permissions on the gadgets folder/file you want to work and put a backup copy in same folder. Proceed with same edits and then stop the sidebar process and open up the gadgets again. Bingo.

    Also – THANKS, Martin!

  4. Red said on January 30, 2016 at 12:19 am

    Here’s a more coherent fix for windows 7.

    [You have to be a local admin to do this]
    1. Copy the original gadget.xml file from C:\Program Files\Windows Sidebar\Gadgets\[Gadget you want to fix]\gadget.xml to a temporary folder of your choice. Open it with notepad.
    2. Find & entirely delete the row containing the tag:
    Do not leave an empty row in the script, just delete the whole row that has that tag.
    3. Reboot and strike the F8 key during reboot to get to the Safe Mode screen.
    4. Choose ‘Repair my computer’.
    5. Log on with an administrative account.
    6. Choose ‘Command Prompt’ from the bottom of the list of recovery options.
    7. Now copy your edited gadget.xml file to C:\Program Files\Windows Sidebar\Gadgets\[Gadget you want to fix]\gadget.xml (example syntax: Copy c:\temp\gadget.xml “C:\Program Files\Windows Sidebar\Gadgets\Clock.Gadget\en-US\gadget.xml”)
    8. Reboot and you should be seeing the gadgets once again.
    I was very pleased to get my clocks back!!!!!!!!!

  5. Gilberto said on January 16, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    Thank you for the fix. It worked perfectly for my clock gadget.
    Unlocker is full of crapware, so you have to be careful and read well during installation.

  6. Pob said on January 17, 2015 at 1:51 am

    I just change the system’s DPI settings to 115% and that all. Just type directly in the show menu 115% instead of 125% or 100%. Smaller Clock, smaller CPU/Ram gage gadgets and everything else fine on my Windows 7 64bit windows explorer as well.

  7. Rolando Creagh said on November 14, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    My affected (currency & weather) gadgets do display normaly but do not show or change the correct information. They are not communicating. I did try the “false” change with no luck. Furthermore, a SFC /Scannow execution changed the false to true. Sorry.

  8. Neil said on August 1, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    Doh…just answered my own stupid question. I wrongly assumed the gadgets were all 32-bit. Wrong. On a 64-bit system you need to edit the correct versions:
    C:\Program FIles\Windows Sidebar\Gadgets\(name).Gadget\en-US\gadget.xml

    Not sure what the x86 versions are doing on a x64 system, but editing them did nothing.

    Thanks for the great tip. Everybody is happy now…

  9. Neil said on August 1, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Thanks for the fix, but it’s not working for me. I was successfully able to edit and save the gadget.xml files for all my gadgets (C:\Program FIles (x86)\Windows Sidebar\Gadgets\(name).Gadget\en-US\gadget.xml) but when I log in with anything other than 100% DPI they are still hosed. I am imaging a large number of laptops and on models with large screens the default is 125% DPI, meaning those users are hosed by default.

    Any progress on tweaking those other settings? Has MS issued a “fix” to block your autoscale xml hack?

  10. bhealthy said on April 13, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Thank you for this advice. I was unable to apply the fix so I uninstalled IE11 and my gadgets came back. I never use IE anyway.

  11. wolfi said on February 26, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    A perfect and well documented solution for me, problem is fixed ! Thanks.

  12. brian said on February 22, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    Where do I get the .xml file for the gadget?

  13. Maneksh said on January 21, 2014 at 9:35 am
  14. S said on December 16, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    My DPI setting is already at the default, 100%, but still unable to load Control Panel, Desktop Gadgets. Cannot launch any. Any other ideas?
    *Found another site that mentioned killing sidebar.exe process. Then on desktop, right click View, uncheck Show Desktop Gadgets. Right click again, View, check Show Desktop Gadgets. Brought them back.

    1. Polaris said on March 7, 2014 at 7:25 pm

      One of our users is having this issue but their DPI was already the default 100% so that is not the cause.

      You can also launch the gadgets via the Control Panel after killing sidebar.exe.

    2. Don said on January 25, 2014 at 7:37 pm

      Thanks, this worked to restore my clock and weather gadets for my Win 7 64bit install with DPI set to 125% as well as being able to launch Control Panel, Desktop Gadgets.

      The gadget.xml files for those had already been edited per above but it seems like some update caused both gadgets to disappear and I saw the same behavior when attempting to launch Control Panel, Desktop Gadgets (nothing happens).

  15. Eric said on December 10, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    Does anyone know if microsoft is planning to fix this bug?

  16. Ricky said on November 25, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    It worked for me, and I can even see them bigger now if i want (much details that were not visible with the origin autoscale setting)
    Thank you for this solution.
    Best Regards.

  17. ash said on November 19, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    Thanks for the ‘fix’ (and within a day of Microsoft sending out its latest batch of unsolicited updates). My solution – since I don’t use IE (I’m a fan of Firefox and/or Google Chrome) – was to go to my latest batch of Windows 7 Updates and UNINSTALL the IE11 update that arrived overnight.

  18. nest said on November 19, 2013 at 11:52 am

    I hope Microsoft will release a fix in the form of a Windows Update that desktop gadgets on

  19. Roman Shaman said on November 19, 2013 at 3:07 am

    Glad that post-IE 11, all my gadgets are all right on Windows 7 x64 Pro. Out of curiosity and Martin’s advice, I installed Internet Explorer 11 (x64); it crashes all the time and has been totally unusable. I haven’t tried x86. I stopped using IE, anyway, since AD 2000.

    Problem is that there’s no way whatsoever to remove or at least retrograde IE nestled in my system now.

  20. Dwight Stegall said on November 18, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    I’m happy to say my Gadgets on Windows 7 are working and displaying like they always did. But I never use them. Rainmeter is far better. My favorite shin is the default Illustro skin. Even a non-programmer can easily edit the skins in any text editor.

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