Tutorial Thursday

The last several months I have been using Windows Vista, and I’ve really gotten used to having my sidebar filled with gadgets. I love that I can put nearly anything in the sidebar like games, maps, gas prices, photos, etc. While I think the sidebar looks fine the way it is, there are ways that you can tweak it to add something more to it.  One of the applications that helps you do this is called Windows Sidebar Styler.

Windows Sidebar Styler is described as an application that takes advantage of new technology introduced with Windows Vista to provide “extensions to the existing functionality of Windows Sidebar.” In other words, it allows users to tweak their Sidebar so that they’re presented with a customized interface. Today I’ll be explaining how to style your sidebar through the use of Windows Sidebar Styler and Sidebar Styles from WinCustomize.

  1. Download and install Windows Sidebar Styler. Installation is pretty typical, and only takes a few minutes. Download is found here (32–bit or 64–bit)
  2. Once the installation process is complete, head on over to Win Customize to pick-out the sidebar styler that you’d like to use. There’s two-pages to choose from, and they’ve done a great job designing them. I downloaded several of them myself to try them out.
  3. When you find one that you like, click on the image to download the file.
    You’ll want to save the file to disk because it’s a zip file and it will need to be extracted.
  4. Next, extract the file that you downloaded and double click the file in the folder (the one that’s not an image). The key thing to remember is that the Windows Sidebar Styler program you downloaded earlier does not need to be open. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be.
  5. After you double click on the file, you’ll get a message asking if you’d like to close the Windows Sidebar if it’s currently running. Click yes.
  6. After you click yes to the above prompt, your style will be applied. Here’s an example of what my sidebar looked like with the “Cardboard” style, and the BrickWall style. They have several subtle styles, but I chose two that would stand out well.
    Chardboardstyle       Brickstyle
  7. Without the use of Windows Sidebar Styler, you wouldn’t be able to apply any of the sidebar styles that you found over at WinCustomize. So while the program doesn’t need to be open to apply a new style, it’s still necessary for you to download it and have it on your computer.
  8. If you’d like to get creative and change the individual items like the background, or the buttons in your sidebar, you can open Windows Sidebar Styler Advanced Settings and right click on any of the available image resources found in the menu and click replace. Then you can replace it with your own image.
    Note: This is really more work than what is needed. People have done a great job putting together a variety of stylers on WinCustomize that you can use. If you really want to be creative then by all means, play around with the advanced options with the Sidebar Styler program.

Changing the look for your sidebar really is a very simple process and doesn’t take much time. You could have a whole look for your Vista Sidebar within 5 minutes. Not bad!