Posted by: kurtsh | July 12, 2012

INFO: Where is that Windows Gadget data?

imageRecently we announced that we’re recommending people drop the usage of gadgets.  If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking:  FAT CHANCE.  Not until I find similar functionality on some other Sidebar technology.  Okay fair enough.

What I’m writing about though has nothing really to do with that but rather WHERE it is that your gadget configuration information is located on your system.  Recently I had a BAD system crash (requiring me to go to a completely new PC) but I was able to get the failed machine to SafeMode boot – which would work for only a few minutes mind you – but it was enough to get into the PC and do some quick copying of data.

FINDING THE STICKY NOTES DATA
The thing I was looking for was the data from my “Sticky Notes” Windows Gadget.  The whole reason I used “Sticky Notes” was that I needed certain information (like mileage, customer data, contract values, I/O codes, stuff like that… easily available. 

The problem is:  It doesn’t get backed up by things like cloud backup solutions like the one I use.  This of course means that the data in the sticky note (“Get notes; email” in the above note) isn’t located in My Documents or anything that obvious.

SO WHERE IS IT?
I set out to figure out where the Sticky Notes data was stored.  Lo-and-behold, I found it:

C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Sidebar\Settings.ini

When you open the .INI file you get a lot of .INI text like this:

[Section 9]
PrivateSetting_GadgetName="C:%5CUsers%5C[EDIT-USERNAMEGOESHERE]%5CAppData%5CLocal%5CMicrosoft%5CWindows%20Sidebar%5CGadgets%5Clongnotes.gadget"
PrivateSetting_GadgetDropLocationX="1223"
PrivateSetting_GadgetDropLocationY="428"
NoteCount="1"
SettingsExist="True"
NoteCount="10"
SettingsExist="True"
NoteState="0"
ColorSaved="yellow"
FontSaved="Arial"
SizeDockedSaved="12"
SizeUndockedSaved="12"
PrivateSetting_GadgetSize="large"
PrivateSetting_GadgetTopmost="false"
0="TODO%0D%0AThey%20are%20our%20friends,%20partners,%20protectors

Basically, what I had to do was get the .INI from the other machine onto a USB drive, (which the machine would stay alive – recall that it would die after a couple minutes) and then edit the .INI on the new machine and copy & paste the “Section 9” content from one .INI to the other.

THAT SOUNDS EASY, YES?
Well, not so fast.  What’s tricky of course is that the Windows Gadget is running in the context of the SIDEBAR.EXE service, which is keeping the .INI file open and won’t allow edits.

So what you have to do is:

  1. Make sure you have the “Sticky Notes” gadget installed and running on your new PC
  2. Kill the SIDEBAR.EXE service in Task Manager
  3. Edit the SETTINGS.INI file to copy the content into the file in the area designated for the “Sticky Notes” app (in my case the gadget is actually called “Longer Notes”) and save the changes
  4. Run SIDEBAR.EXE from the START menu

And there you go.  When you run SIDEBAR.EXE again, all your data will be displayed in the Sticky Notes gadget.  This would also apply to settings you might copy over from other gadgets into the SETTINGS.INI file.


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