I’m always looking for ways to get things done a bit faster, and today we bring you what could very well be the ultimate sidebar. It’s actually more like a personalized homepage, a sidebar, and an application launcher all rolled up into one. That sounds pretty interesting, doesn’t it?
SideSlide is a free application for Windows that is sure to impress. You can tuck it away to any edge of the screen, and it will pop out at a moment’s notice. In your SideSlide workspace you’ll be able to add RSS feeds, program shortcuts, hyperlinks to websites, notes, images, reminders, and more!
SideSlide is loaded up with a bunch of great features, but before I dive into the specifics I thought there were a few worth highlighting:
- Dock to any screen edge
- Read RSS news feeds
- Create shortcuts to files, folders and URLs
- Add notes
- Schedule reminders
- Drag and drop text from your browser to have it saved
- Shrink and fold containers
- Launch multiple programs at once
- Advanced keyboard navigation
- Customizable skins
- Find-as-you-type shortcut searching
–Program and Website Shortcuts–
SideSlide above all else is an application launcher. You can add shortcuts to websites you visit, programs you use, or folders you open. There are several different ways that you can organize the shortcuts you add to the workspace, but we’ll get into that in a little bit.
One thing you’ll want to know is that you can zoom in and out of the shortcuts, which means you can make some shortcuts bigger than others. This can be seen in the screenshot above, and it is nice being able to emphasize the programs you use the most.
Containers are like virtual folders for shortcuts to websites, folders, and files. The most common reason that you’ll want to place things in containers is because you can expand and contract them as needed, thereby conserving the screen space that is so precious to you. You can see an animation demonstrating this in the RSS feeds section below.
There is another benefit to placing shortcuts in containers that I absolutely love. When you right-click on a container you can launch all of the shortcuts that reside within it, which is great for both websites and programs you use often:
There’s also an experimental feature that lets you nest containers. This would be like placing a folder inside of a folder. To enable this right-click anywhere in SideSlide and go to Settings -> Containers -> Capture/Nested Containers.
SideSlide has some nice built-in feed reading capabilities if you only have a handful of RSS feeds that you want to keep up on. With it you can create a mashup of feeds (a.k.a. combine multiple feeds into one), and the feeds can be expanded or contracted to conserve space in SideSlide:
You can force all of your feeds to update at anytime (press F11), or you can update an individual feed by pressing the update button in the container’s title bar. The last time a particular feed was checked for updates will be shown in the container’s status bar.
I would say that you can easily keep up with 15 or 20 feeds with this program, but more than that may start to become a chore. I highly recommend taking advantage of the mashup feature so that you’ll just have one container for each different type of news. For example, you can create one container that includes all of your technology news, another for gadgets, and so on.
Here are some more features the feed reader offers:
- Instant find-as-you-type searching of your news (press Ctrl+S). You can choose to search descriptions and/or headlines.
- You can make SideSlide open the article’s website when links are clicked instead of opening the preview window.
There are all kinds of different settings that you can configure with SideSlide. Here is a brief list of the different options:
- Make the workspace transparent
- Auto expand containers on mouse-over
- Enable nested containers
- Add a shadow to the workspace
- Display the date and time in the title bar of SideSlide
I also mentioned earlier that you can customize the SideSlide skin. Here is what the configuration screen look like for doing that:
When I first saw this program I thought it wouldn’t really do anything useful, but that was because it was hard to realize just how powerful the program was from their simplistic description page. Later I discovered the Quick Start Guide that they put together, and they did an amazing job of outlining all of the different features. After flipping through that and getting accustomed to the keyboard shortcuts I realized that this was definitely a keeper.
I would, however, like to see a tabbed interface for multiple workspaces. Then you would be able to create different workspaces for leisure, feed reading, and more. I guess being able to nest containers kind of makes that possible, but I would still like to see tabs make their way into SideSlide.