How to Supercharge Firefox’s Sidebar

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Firefox has a sidebar that gives you more direct access to your bookmarked pages, add-ons, history and more besides. You can add the sidebar button to Firefox’s toolbar by clicking Open menu > Customize and then dragging the Show sidebars button onto the toolbar. It might seem a little basic, but you can supercharge the sidebar by adding these add-ons to the browser. 

The All-in-One Sidebar Add-on

First, check out the All-in-One Sidebar extension at this page. This extension adds a sidebar panel to Firefox so that you can open browser bookmarks, history and more besides by pressing the pertinent buttons on it. It also extends the default sidebar in many more ways. When you’ve added it to Firefox and restarted the browser, you’ll find a new sidebar panel on the left of the window as shown directly below.

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You can press the buttons on that sidebar panel to open bookmarks, history, downloads and more. In addition, you can now open the selected page tab in the sidebar by left-clicking the arrow button at the top right as shown directly below. That will open the current page tab in the sidebar, and then you can open other pages on the right. So that option effectively enables you to open two pages in one browser window!

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Press the Show sidebars button on the toolbar and select All-in-One Options to open the window in the snapshot below. That includes more customization options for the sidebar. For example, you can move the sidebar to the right of window by selecting right side from the Show sidebar on drop-down menu. You can also adjust the width of the sidebar by entering a value in the Standard width text box.

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The OmniSidebar Add-on

OmniSidebar is another extension that beefs up Firefox’s sidebar. This is the OmniSidebar page you can install it from. It replaces the default sidebar with an enhanced alternative that has extra options.

Once you’ve added it Firefox, you’ll find a separate OmniSidebar button on the toolbar. You can press that or the default Show sidebars button to open the sidebar. Alternatively, move the cursor to the left edge of a page and then left-click the glowing, blue line along the margin to open it as below. Right-click the glowing, blue line to open the context menu from which you can select Bookmarks, History, Add-ons, Page Info and other sidebar options.

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Select OmniSidebar Options on the context menu to open the tab in the snapshot below. There you can select a Place on right option to move the main sidebar to the right. At the bottom of the tab you can also customize the sidebar’s hotkey by selecting the check boxes under Sidebar keyboard Shortcut. Hover the cursor over each option on that page to open a small tooltip that provides extra details for the setting.

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The Include ‘Go’ button check box on that tab is a good option to select. That adds an arrow button to the top left of the sidebar you can press to open about pages in Firefox. Then you can enter ‘about:config’ in the text box and click Go to open that page in the sidebar as shown below.

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One novelty is that you can open a second sidebar on the right of the page with OmniSidebar. Select Twin Sidebar on the OmniSidebar Options tab. Then click the Enable the Twin Sidebar on the opposite side check box to open the second sidebar on the right of the page as below.

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Click Global on the OmniSidebar Options tab to select options for both sidebars. There you can select an Apply glass style to all sidebars option that adds a glass effect to the sidebars. Drag the bar beneath that further left or right to increase or decrease the transparency.

The LinkSidebar Add-On

There are numerous extensions that add extra options to the sidebar context menu. LinkSidebar is one that lists all the hyperlinks on a page in the sidebar. Add it to Firefox from here, open a page in the browser, press the Show sidebars button and then select Links from its menu. That will open a list of the page’s hyperlinks in the sidebar.

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Then you can click the hyperlinks in the sidebar to open the site pages. The sidebar includes the anchor text for the hyperlinks by default. You can also select to include URLs and domains in the link sidebar by pressing the small button shown in the snapshot directly below.

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Watch YouTube Videos in the Sidebar

Side Watch is another great sidebar extension. With that you can watch YouTube videos in the sidebar. Press the Download Now button on this page to add this one to Firefox. Note that you’ll also need to add the Addon Bar Restored (Restored) extension to Firefox from this page. That restores the add-on bar at the bottom of Firefox’s window which you need to play the videos in the sidebar.

When you’ve installed both those extensions, open a YouTube page and play a video. Then press the YouTube button on the add-on bar at the bottom of the window to play the video in Firefox’s sidebar as shown directly below. The video still plays in the left sidebar if you close its YouTube page.

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Add Notes to Firefox’s Sidebar

This TechJunkie post told you how to take notes in Firefox. You can also add a notepad to the browser’s sidebar with QuickNote. That’s a handy note-taking extension you can install from here.  Then click the Show sidebars button on Firefox toolbar and select QuickNote to open the notepad below.

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As such, you can now enter notes into the sidebar note tabs there. It includes two note tabs by default, but you can increase that by clicking the notepad icon on the right of sidebar and selecting Settings. Then select the General tab on the QuickNote settings window and click one of the Number of notes radio buttons to add more note tabs.

Select the Customization tab on that window to open further formatting options. Then you can choose alternative fonts from the Font type drop-down menu. There are two Color palette boxes there you can click to select new font and note background colors. Press the Save button to apply selected settings to the notes.

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So those are five terrific add-ons to supercharge Firefox’s sidebar with. They add a notepad, YouTube videos, page hyperlink lists to the sidebar and give you lots of handy new customization options.

Posted by Matthew on September 12, 2016

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