Windows Vista and 7 have a safety feature to safely shutdown running programs, so if your sidebar is running you may see – Waiting for sidebar.exe.

The rest of the annoying prompt is – This program is preventing Windows from shutting down.

The best method to get your desktop gadgets working fast again is to delete the cache, reset the gadgets to default, and reinstall the gadgets. All 3 may not be necessary, so your mileage may vary.

Waiting for sidebar.exe Fix

Press the X on the gadgets to close them.

Alternatively, you can right click the Sidebar icon in the system tray and choose Exit (Vista) or open the Task Manager and end the task sidebar.exe (Vista and 7).

  1. Start Menu.
  2. Type %LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows Sidebar in the Search box.
  3. You will see a file named Settings.ini. Remove, rename, or backup this file.
  4. A new Settings.ini will be created when the Sidebar runs again.
  5. In addition to the Settings.ini file, you’ll see a list of 3rd party gadgets.
  6. Remove, rename, or backup the gadget folders.
  7. You should also see a Cache folder. Navigate to it (%LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows Sidebar\Cache).
  8. Delete items in the Cache folder.
  9. Re-add the desktop gadgets by double clicking the gadget files or right click the desktop and click Gadgets.

Note: you can use the sfc /scannow command to check for and fix protected system files as well if you feel so inclined.

Note 2: you can also disable the Sidebar entry from startup, or a more permanent solution would be to uninstall the Windows Gadget Platform.

Registry Option

I don’t recommend messing with this but if there is a genuine use case, you can modify the time it takes to kill services.

  • Open registry by typing regedit.
  • Find HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control.
  • Double-click on this folder to find the WaitToKillServiceTimeout field.
  • Edit the default of 12000 (12 seconds) to 2000 (2 seconds).
  • Click OK to save.
  • Look for AutoEndTasks field, and set the value to 1.
  • Click OK to save.

There you have it. Gadgets are pretty nice but the resource intensive ones that won’t let you shut down quickly, a la waiting for sidebar.exe, can be a pain.

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