Many Internet users use the Internet to lookup addresses or get driving directions. They usually open a maps service, such as Google Maps or Bing Maps for that. It often means juggling around with multiple websites, if they have found the address on another website.
A simple example is a new shop that you just discovered in your home town that is listing an address but not a map on the shop website. Another that you are scouting places for your next trip to Europe and want to find out how far off they are from the hotel you are staying in.
Minimap Sidebar is a Firefox extension with a rich feature set. The extension displays a map in the browser's sidebar by default which you can use to lookup addresses effortlessly. All it takes is to drag and drop the address into the minimap to have the add-on center on that location on the map.
The map behaves exactly as you would expect it to. You can use the mouse wheel to zoom in or out, hold down the mouse to move around on the map or use controls at the top of the sidebar window to change the map type, toggle traffic information or to add location information manually to the map.
Even better, places are saved automatically so that you can switch through all of them in a heartbeat. That's useful for Internet users who often need to lookup addresses on map services such as Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, Open Street Map or other services, and those who are creating a list of places to visit.
Minimap Sidebar uses Google Maps by default, with options to switch to Open Street Map instead. Locations can also be opened in tabs or as an overlay preview right on the page the address is displayed on.
And if you do not have an address that you can copy and paste, you can alternatively type in address information manually for the exact same functionality. Once an address has been located on the map, you can open one or multiple services in tabs for more information about the address. Supported services include Google Earth, Flickr, Panoramio or loc.alize.us.
What is more, you can set a home address to speed up retrieving driving information to other locations you have added to the extension.
Export options allow you to export the location as KML, CSV, GPX or minimap files, get a location's geohash link or latitude and longitude, or search for the place on Amazon, ebay, Maps.com or upcoming.com (events).
The extension supports geo tagging, which means that it will automatically discover if a website you visit supports the technology.
Minimap Sidebar is a useful extension for Internet users who need to lookup addresses or get directions regularly. Instead of having to open a maps website next to the current website, they can now handle everything in one browser window.
Firefox users can download and install the Minimap Sidebar extension from the official Mozilla Firefox add-ons repository.
Update: The Minimap Sidebar add-on has been removed from the official Mozilla Add-ons repository. The Quick Maps extension comes closest, even though it does not display the map information in the sidebar.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.