Vista: Lock Down the Windows Sidebar

Posted June 14, 2007 by Rob Rogers in Microsoft Vista

While the Windows Sidebar is a nice piece of functional eye candy for home users, it can be an administrator’s nightmare in a business environment. Having users installing an endless amount of gadgets off of the internet can at the very least waste work time and bandwidth and a worse case scenario would be a security breach. You can limit or eliminate the Windows Sidebar and keep control of what, if any, gadgets are able to run on the users’ machines.

1. Click the Start Button.

2. Click All Programs and select Accessories.

3. Click Run.

4. Input gpedit.msc and click OK.

5. When the UAC prompt appears, click Continue.

6. In the left pane, select Computer Configuration and double-click Administrative Templates.

7. Double-click Windows Components.

8. Select Windows Sidebar.

9. In the right pane, select one of the four settings to limit usage of the Windows Sidebar. To enable a setting, double-click the setting and select the Enabled radio button and click OK. The choices are:

Override the More Gadgets Link – The Windows Sidebar has a link to download additional gadgets from the Microsoft site. By enabling this setting, you can redirect your users to a different site. This means that if you create gadgets for your users to access various company data, you can redirect them to your intranet to download and install the gadgets. Input the address of the new location in the Override Gadget Location textbox after selecting the Enabled radio button.

Turn off Windows Sidebar – Enable this setting to turn off the Windows Sidebar.

Disable unpacking and installation of gadgets that are not digitally signed – Enabling this setting will prevent the installation of any gadgets that are unsigned.

Turn Off User Installed Windows Sidebar Gadgets – Enable this setting to prevent Windows Sidebar from running any user installed gadgets.

10. Close the Group Policy Object Editor.


About Rob Rogers

Once a prolific author here on Tech-Recipes, Rob has moved on to greener pastures.
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  • Jenn

    Is there a way to put links on the sidebar? I am the supervisor for the computer lab at this university. We have always had an active desktop with links on it to our school’s email, blackboard, and so on. Now with the move to Vista we cannot do that. So we were hoping to use the sidebar and put the links in there but as of yet I have not been able to find a way to make links in the Vista Sidebar. We would then lock it so that no additional gadgets could be installed by the students. Any help would be appreciated.

  • Anonymous

    I can’t find gpedit.msc – HELP

  • Webmechanic45

    Start, in the search/run box type gpedit.msc

  • Venra

    Hello Jenn,

    It seems that you need to install Deep Freeze or another program that similar to Deep Freeze, it could lock your Windows OS to your decided default state after reboot. It also removes files which are saved anywhere outside .. let’s call it “Student Files Folder”, so you can always ensure that those computers are clean.

    Might it helps, thanks.