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July 14, 2007

Google Sidebars

Firefox and Opera have a little-known feature: the sidebar. You can open any page in a persistent sidebar that sits in the left of your window. Because the sidebar is usually very small, not every web page is usable when added to the sidebar.

If the links from this page don't automatically create a sidebar, you'll have to bookmark them and select "Show in panel" (for Opera) or go to the Bookmark Manager, and enable "Load this bookmark in the sidebar" in the bookmark's properties.

1. Google Notebook - a simplified version of Google Notebook that lets you access your notes and easily add new notes. It's a good idea to use it if you don't want to install the extension.

2. Google Talk - the Flash gadget for Google Talk is a good replacement for the desktop client if you don't use more advanced features like voice chat or file sharing.

3. Google Search - this page was designed for Internet Explorer and it's useful if you want to see the list of search results in the sidebar.

4. Google Docs & Spreadsheets - the list of your files sorted by the last modified date. (If the sidebar doesn't show any document, replace 100 with a value smaller than the number of documents from your account. This is a bug.)

5. Google Calendar - it shows the calendar, your agenda and you can use it to quickly add events.

6. As most of these pages were actually created for Google gadgets, you may be wondering if it's possible to add any gadget to the sidebar. Some of the gadgets can be added by bookmarking this address:[Gadget Source]

where [Gadget Source] is the URL of the gadget's source code, which can be found if you click on the little arrow from each gadget box and select "About this gadget".

(a Sudoku game).

Now that you have a lot of sidebars, you'll want a way to organize them. Opera lets you easily switch between panels and for Firefox there's an extension called All-in-One Sidebar that adds this functionality.


  1. Opera's sidebar is really handy. To display the sidebar, press F4. To hide it, press F4 again.

  2. Great info (as always) very usable.
    However, I am quite taken by the fascinating main page, showing your Google Video preferences. Interesting. To say the least. (~_*)

  3. need something like this for google calendar. quick viewing of events and quick adding of new ones, with the text recognition thing they have

  4. Or you could install iGoogle sidebar, and have almost all of them, plus others.

  5. Thank you for the information. I have All-in-One sidebar. Now I've got all the more reason to use it. Love the list of document for Google Docs.

  6. That is great!
    Wide screen monitor has lots of empty space, and sidebar is really useful.

  7. I wonder, should you maybe change the screenshot to something more universally appropriate?

  8. Sorry if you found the screenshot disturbing. I made fun of Google Video's lists of popular videos that contain a lot of sex-related videos.

  9. How to do it using Firefox. There's neither f4 shortcut nor open in sidebar option for bookmarks. The side bar can contain only History and Bookmarks- invoked using ctrl+H or ctrl+B respectively

  10. << The side bar can contain only History and Bookmarks. >>

    This is not very accurate. You can open the sidebars by clicking on the bookmarks. Remember you bookmarked some links? Well, those pages open in the sidebar instead of the main window.

  11. I really liked the Google Notebook sidebar. It is a big improvement on the official Firefox extension for Google Notebook.

    I posted a review of these Sidebars on my blog as well. I also included a review of the Minimap Sidebar, that uses Google Maps by default.

  12. How about Google Web History?

  13. You can subscribe to Google Web History's feed in Firefox:

    or you can add this gadget to iGoogle.

  14. the rss is only the most recent and the gadget is only search history, what i want is somehow to have look good in the sidebar ( the area with the search box and the time+links area, I don't need all the links at the side (although having the bookmarks link would be nice) and the calender is just a waste of room and mucks it up as a sidebar, is there w way to custom view the page or something (maybe greasemonkey?)

  15. A Greasemonkey script could be useful only if you don't want to open Web History in full view. Create a script for* that hides everything except for the list of searches. A Stylish style is probably a better idea.

  16. Unfortunately, you can't run Greasemonkey scripts in the sidebar, but this script removes some of the clutter from Web History:

    // ==UserScript==

    // @name Clean Web History

    // @namespace googleos.blogger

    // @include*

    // @exclude*

    // @exclude*

    // ==/UserScript==

    for (j = 0; j < 3; j++) {

    tables = document.evaluate("html/body/table["+j+"]", document, null, XPathResult.UNORDERED_NODE_SNAPSHOT_TYPE, null );

    for (i = 0; i < tables.snapshotLength; i++) { tables.snapshotItem(i).style.display="none";


    for (j = 0; j < 6; j++) {
    if (j!=4) {

    tables = document.evaluate("html/body/table[4]/tbody/tr[2]/td["+j+"]", document, null, XPathResult.UNORDERED_NODE_SNAPSHOT_TYPE, null );

    for (i = 0; i < tables.snapshotLength; i++) {


  17. Hi! I don't understand so much your article... For example: If I want add the GMail and Google Reader to Firefox, how i do this? I try add here, but occours some errors in XML format... Can you show me how i add the GMail and Google Reader to sidebar? Thanks!

  18. For Gmail and Google Reader you should use similar mini-interfaces. Some ideas:

    Gmail mobile -

    Google Reader for iPhone -

  19. Wow! Great!

    The Google Reader works perfectly, but the GMail occours a error...

    When I click on any link (open a message, for example), the message don't load in sidebar... It's use a open (normally the tab on focus) tab or opens a new tab...
    How i correct this?

    Thanks for your attention!


  20. Hi Ionut,

    Great app.

    How can you get the google calendar sidebar app to appear just using the keyboard?

    For some reason, bringing it up in the FF3 address bar opens it up in the main window.

    "Open in sidebar" is ticked and it opens fine when I click on the bookmark with my mouse.



  21. This firefox extension does all that stuff but also lets you search images, videos, news etc

  22. Thank you for the information. I have All-in-One sidebar. Now I've got all the more reason to use it. Love the list of document for Google Docs.


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