Web Browser Wednesday

Firefox is an extremely customizable browser, and combining that with the growing popularity of widescreen monitors results in more sidebars. I used to never use sidebars before I got a widescreen computer because it just took up extra screen space that was otherwise pretty useful. Now you’ll hardly ever find me with a sidebar not open on my computer!

There are so many things that you can do and so many Firefox extensions available to utilize your sidebar space. Most commonly it is used for bookmarks, but there are a lot of other things that you can do with it as well. For example, Digital Inspiration recently noticed that you can place Google Talk in your sidebar:

Firefox Sidebar

It may sound like you need an extension to do something like this, but surprisingly, you don’t. Firefox is designed so that you can have any website open in a sidebar and since Google made the Google Talk client available on the Web, it is possible to chat with your friends in the Firefox sidebar. We’ll use the Google Talk as an example of embedding a website into a sidebar:

  1. Right-click on this URL: and bookmark it.
    Firefox Bookmark
  2. After you have saved the bookmark, go back to the Bookmarks menu and right-click on the bookmark. Choose the Properties option.
    Firefox Bookmark
  3. Now check the box that says Load this bookmark in the sidebar:
    Firefox Sidebar
  4. Now the next time you click on that bookmark to open it will popup in the sidebar!

You can use that trick with any website, but it is really only useful if the website is designed for smaller screens so that it fits the width of the sidebar well. I would also say that it doesn’t work too bad with Meebo, but if you have a lot of chat windows open it can quickly become cluttered.

If you wanted to put your Google Personalized Homepage in the sidebar it wouldn’t look quite right since there is a huge header area that you probably don’t need, and all of the modules are spread out over three columns. There is an actual extension called iGoogle that will bypass this problem by putting all of your modules into a single column, and you’ll still have access to your tabs:

Firefox Sidebar

But how do you manage all of your sidebars in a quick and easy way? For that you’ll probably want to use All-in-One Sidebar which makes it easy to switch between all of your different sidebars. Not only that but it also lets you configure which side of the screen, left or right, the sidebar actually appears.

Now if you are fortunate enough to have a lot of extra screen space, you might want to use multiple sidebars. There is an extension for that as well called MultiSidebar that lets you pick the position of the sidebar in the browser as well as open multiple sidebars:

Firefox Sidebar

There is so much that you can do with the sidebars that it may seem a little overwhelming at first. Once you start getting used to them, you begin to wonder how much more productive they let you become. Let us know in the comments below how you use your sidebar to help you be more productive or useful.