How to Add a Sidebar to Desktop in Windows 10 and 11

Windows Vista and 7 have integrated sidebars for its gadgets along the right side of the desktop area. However, Microsoft has removed sidebars from Windows since then. Sure, the big M may have partially reinstated limited gadgets with a widget panel, but it’s not a sidebar.


A sidebar can be a useful addition to the Windows desktop for many things, such as adding shortcuts. Would you like to restore a sidebar in newer Microsoft desktop platforms? If so, try adding one of these third-party software sidebars to Windows 11 or 10.


MetroSidebar is a free sidebar software that integrates metro-style live thumbnails for widgets. The publisher originally released MetroSidebar to add a matching metro-themed sidebar to Windows 8. It includes 11 default widgets that users can select to add and remove from the sidebar. Here’s how you can add the MetroSidebar to the desktop in Windows 11 and 10:

  1. Open the MetroSidebar page on Softpedia.
  2. Select Download now for MetroSidebar.
  3. Click on Secure download from Softpedia (US) to start downloading MetroSidebar.
  4. Open the Downloads in your web browser and double-click MetroSide_setup.msi to open it from there.
  5. Install the application and restart your PC.
  6. If MetroSidebar does not start automatically after restarting, choose to run it from your Start menu. Then you will see a new sidebar on the right side of your desktop.
  7. To add tiles to the sidebar, click the button at the bottom right of the sidebar. Select a thumbnail to add, then click the More button for that.

You will notice that the Tiles window has a Tile store tongue. However, this store is apparently no longer available since its tab displays a “Connection problem” message. So, you’ll have to make do with the 11 default tile widgets that come with the sidebar.

However, MetroSidebar’s default tile widgets should be enough to satisfy most users. The software includes weather, battery gauge, Bing search, clock, media player, images (for slideshows), and alarm tiles, among others. Each widget has customization options that you can configure by right-clicking it and selecting Mosaic Settings.

If you want to add software shortcuts to this sidebar, select to include its launch tile. This tile includes shortcuts to open Control Panel, Paint, Notepad, Calculator, Paint, Recycle Bin, and Computer. You can add other programs to it by clicking on the + New shortcuts button (left-click the thumbnail and drag left to scroll to this option). Then select the software to add to the widget and click Open.

To access the sidebar options in MetroSidebar, click the button at the bottom of the bar and select Settings. You can select whether the sidebar opens automatically by clicking Start with windows in the MetroSidebar settings. Select Always on top if you prefer to keep the sidebar always visible on open windows.

SideBar is software designed to create shortcuts to software, websites and files. You cannot add any type of gadget to this sidebar, but it is the best choice for setting up shortcuts. It allows you to create groups of shortcuts accessible on a desktop sidebar. You can add a shortcut sidebar to Windows with this software like this:

  1. Open the website for SideBar.
  2. Click it Sidebar version 2.0.7.4 link to download the software.
  3. Double-click Sidebar.exe in the Downloads to display the installer for this software.
  4. Click on Next twice and Install in the Sidebar Setup Wizard for Windows.
  5. Select Finish to exit the setup wizard and start the software.

Once the sidebar is running:

  1. Click the SideBar system tray icon to display the sidebar directly below.
  2. Select the Add a group option.
  3. Enter a title for a group in the text box, then select the Click to save option.
  4. Then you can add shortcuts by clicking + on the newly added group.
  5. Enter a title for the shortcut in the Last name box.
  6. Select the Click to browse option to choose the software or user file for the shortcut to open. If you want to set up a shortcut to a website, enter a URL in the Path box.
  7. press the Click to save button.
  8. Repeat the steps above to add as many shortcuts as you want to the sidebar.

You can change the position of the sidebar on the desktop from its system tray context menu. Right-click the sidebar system tray icon to select Dock location and Left Where Right. Add transparency to the sidebar by dragging the slider to Set opacity bar setting in the menu on the left. You can also keep the sidebar on software windows by selecting Always on top.

To customize the sidebar, tap its Click to change settings (cog) button at the top. Then you can change the color of the bar with the Underline, Text, Backgroundand Group background Color drop-down menus. You can also rearrange groups by dragging them in the Bulk order box.

Desktop Sidebar is old software, but you can still add a sidebar to Windows 11 or 10. This sidebar integrates panels that look a lot like widgets with different functions. Unlike MetroSidebar and SideBar, it includes different skin themes that you can choose for the sidebar. Here’s how to add a customizable sidebar to Windows with this software:

  1. Open the Softpedia page to download Desktop Sidebar.
  2. Click on Download now and select the US mirror option.
  3. View your web browser Downloads tab (press CTRL + J in Chrome). Click sidebarb116.exe to open the Desktop Sidebar Setup Wizard.
  4. Then go through the configuration wizard by clicking on Next three times to install Desktop Sidebar in the default path.
  5. Open the desktop sidebar to view the sidebar shown directly below.
  6. The sidebar includes many panels by default. However, you can add more by right-clicking the sidebar and selecting Add a panel.
  7. Select news, media, system, communication or panel type in the window; and click on the To add button.

You can customize sidebar panels by right-clicking their titles to reveal context menu options. Select Move up and To come down to reposition them. Click on Rename to change the title of a panel. To change specific widget options, select the Panel properties option.

Quick Launch is the panel where you can add software, file and folder shortcuts. To do this, double-click Quick Launch in the sidebar to expand. Then you can drag and drop desktop shortcuts and Explorer files and folders onto this panel for quick access.

To change the sidebar skin, select Choice in the context menu of the software and click on Appearance. Then you can choose a different theme on the Skin scrolling menu. The Appearance The tab also includes settings to reposition the sidebar, automatically hide it when not in use, and apply transparency. Hurry Apply to save the options you have changed.

If you need help using Desktop Sidebar, see the software manual. Right-click on the sidebar and select To help On the menu. The Insight and Panels the sections provide more details about the Desktop Sidebar options and panels.

All of these freely available third-party sidebars provide invaluable new places to paste shortcuts to open software in Windows 11 and 10. Instead of cluttering the desktop and taskbar with shortcuts, add them to your installed sidebar . Then you’ll have an altogether neater Windows desktop area.

Users who miss Vista’s gadget sidebar will also appreciate the additional widget tiles and panels included in MetroSidebar and Desktop Sidebar. They restore gadgets in Windows 10 and provide more widgets in Windows 11.

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