Now that Opera has gone the way of the Chrome, Firefox is the only browser left standing that is offering a sidebar to its users. Well, there are spin-offs and all, but if you only look at > 1% market share, you will only find that Firefox supports the feature.
You can display the bookmarks or the browsing history by default in the sidebar. Many Firefox users are probably unaware of that feature due to the hiding of the menu bar where it can be accessed from. While it is theoretically possible to trigger the sidebar display with shortcuts, Ctrl-B for the bookmarks sidebar and Ctrl-H for the history, it is unlikely that many users will stumble upon those by accident.
OmniSidebar is a highly rated extension for Firefox that improves the sidebar in many ways. It is similar to All In One Sidebar, but a lot easier to use and streamlined except for one feature that I'll address later in this review.
When you install OmniSidebar in Mozilla Firefox, a single icon is added to the browser's address bar. It offers one option to toggle the sidebar display, but acts as a mini menu of sorts as well if you right-click it.
When you toggle the sidebar, it is displayed on the left side in its usual position by default. You will notice the menu's title, and two buttons at the top. The title is used to switch between different sidebars. Supported are the following ones:
- Add-ons Sidebar
- Error Console
- View Page Info
The two buttons next to the title turn the sidebar into a floating window on the screen, and close the sidebar again.
You can trigger the sidebar in other ways as well. You can hit F8, the default shortcut to do so, or enable the browser margin trigger which displays it when you move the mouse to the browser margin and click there while it is hidden.
As far as options go, there are plenty. You can for instance move the sidebar from the left to the right, or, if you have lots of screen space, add a second sidebar to the right instead so that you can access two sidebars at once in Firefox.
Here you can also hide some of the buttons and information displayed by the sidebar, modify the keyboard shortcut, disable transition effects to improve performance, and change delays.
Another useful feature is the ability to always open select Firefox pages in the sidebar. You can for instance configure downloads and the add-ons manager to always open in the sidebar, regardless of how they are triggered.
A sidebar can be useful, especially if you have the screen space available to display it without interfering with the websites you display in Firefox. The one thing that I'd like to say is an option to display the various menus that you can display in the sidebar as buttons on the border of the browser window.
All In One Sidebar supports that feature, and Opera did too with its Panels. This should improve accessibility a lot for some users.
All in all though it is a great add-on for the Firefox browser.