Browse YouTube from a side panel with the Sidebar for YouTube extension for Opera and Firefox

Jun 8, 2021

Picture-in-Picture mode is useful if you want to watch videos while you browse. Both Firefox and Opera support PiP, and some of you may be using it for that purpose. One of the shortcomings of the mode is that some functionality needs to be performed in the YouTube browser tab, as the functionality is not available in the PiP window.

Browse YouTube from a side panel with the Sidebar for YouTube extension for Opera and Firefox

What about browsing YouTube when you're on other sites? Sidebar for YouTube is an extension for Opera and Firefox, that makes it possible to access the video service from a convenient side panel.

The add-on does not have a dedicated button in Firefox; to access it you will need to click the open sidebar button on the browser's toolbar. You can use it without signing into your account. The add-on lists the most popular videos, but let's face it, these are usually videos that you may not be interested in.

Signing in to your account allows you to access all of YouTube's features such as your subscriptions, playlists, history, etc. The add-on does not support YouTube music. The toolbar at the top of the sidebar has a few buttons that you may like. It has a back and forward button on either side of the toolbar, the home button takes you to YouTube's main page. Click the pop out button at the top to open the site in a new tab. The only thing that's missing in the sidebar is an option to load a YouTube URL.

Sidebar for YouTube is not compatible with Firefox Containers, so even if you have a Google container and are signed in to your account in it, the side panel plugin will not recognize it. As a matter of fact, clicking sign in did nothing with Firefox Containers installed. If you don't use containers or use Opera, and are signed in to YouTube, you will be logged in the sidebar too. The Opera extension has a refresh button at the top of the panel, which is useful and something that the Firefox plugin lacks.

Sidebar for YouTube add-on options

The settings button takes you to the add-on's options, of which there are just two. The extension uses mobile view to load the videos, but you may switch to desktop view from the settings page. Sidebar for YouTube blocks ads by default, you can toggle this behavior from the settings page. The bad news is the ad-blocker is very inconsistent. Sometimes it would block the ads, but it failed way too many times. The add-on's settings page mentions that its ad-blocker only blocks basic ads, and that using a third party ad-blocker is advised.

Switching to desktop mode blocks the ads in the sidebar, and though it is inconsistent too, I think it had better results than mobile view. Sadly, that only applies to Firefox, as the desktop mode doesn't work in Opera browser, which has the view enabled by default. So, if you see an error message that says "ERR_BLOCKED_BY_RESPONSE", go to the add-on's settings page and uncheck the 2nd option.

Sidebar for YouTube extension ad blocker issues

However, the plugin fails to block ads even with uBlock Origin installed. Just to clarify, uBlock Origin has no problem in blocking the ads on the YouTube website. Even Opera's built-in ad-blocker works perfectly on the site. It does make me wonder if Sidebar for YouTube is facing a problem with ads similar to what Opera had until the recent update. If you have a YouTube premium subscription, ads aren't going to be an issue for you.

Download Sidebar for YouTube for Firefox and Opera.

I feel that the add-on would be impressive if the ad-blocker problem, and the sign in issue with Firefox Containers is fixed.

software image
Author Rating
2.5 based on 3 votes
Software Name
Sidebar for YouTube
Operating System
Firefox, Opera
Software Category
Landing Page

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  1. BRYAN INFANTE WAGAN said on December 22, 2021 at 4:18 am

    Kudos to the writer. I was able to follow the steps. Well, honestly I am not tech-savvy and the steps are great which I was able to follow. The tool you have mentioned is similar to the online tool that I am using which is AceThinker Free Online Video Downloader. I was able to download Facebook videos easily.

  2. Honorius said on June 8, 2021 at 4:14 pm

    It sounds like it creates more problems than it solves.
    In the case of an urgent need for such a feature, it would probably be more convenient to use Vivaldi.

    P.S. Yes, and the use of Opera looks doubtful if the issue of privacy is of concern to the user.

  3. Paul(us) said on June 8, 2021 at 10:25 am

    Lol, I see this add-on is made by Martin!

    Has it comes so far that Martin makes something and then Ashwin, criticizes it? :-) I think that Martin Brinkman would have delivered a better (Release) product if Martin Brinkman was the maker of this addon.

    Ad-blocker problems and also sign-in issues with Firefox Containers is not a small thing.

    p.s. I want to make abundantly clear that I personally honestly think that Martin Brinkman has not been involved in any way, in the making of this application! :-)

    1. Tom Hawack said on June 8, 2021 at 12:07 pm

      @Paul(us), clear enough given abundantly.
      I had a girlfriend (in the roaring twenties: mine) named Shirley and ever since, even after several decades, every time I hear, read that name I think of her. Must have been true love :=)

      P.S. Not “I love you” as in the song but a smile to apologize for this 100% off-topic comment.

  4. Tom Hawack said on June 8, 2021 at 9:27 am

    Quoting the article, “However, the plugin fails to block ads even with uBlock Origin installed.”

    It’s been some time now that uBlock Origin (uBO) has no power on other extensions.
    There’s a way to mitigate this by following these steps (be careful) :

    1- Go to about:debugging#/runtime/this-firefox :
    1.1- Search for uBlock Origin, copy iits Internal UUID
    2- Go to uBO’ Trusted sites :
    2.1- Add the above UUID folloed by .moz-extension-scheme ( i.e.: 60daf84c-c058-4407-b291-b611ae309cdf.moz-extension-scheme )
    2.2- Change moz-extension-scheme to #moz-extension-scheme (disables this scheme)
    3- Go to uBO’s My Rules :
    3.1- Add moz-extension-scheme * * noop

    This works perfectly, i.e. with Firefox’s FeedBro extension which, when handling YouTube RSSs, bypasses uBOs rules when connecting to YouTube. With the above work-around uBO will be active with all extensions, FeedBro included, YouTube-Sidebar included most certainly, though I haven’t installed/tested the latter.

    Back to YouTube-Sidebar : I don’t use PiP, when I watch a video it’s not part-time and if it’s a musical video I pin the tab, so this extension doesn’t concern me.

  5. Dumbledalf said on June 8, 2021 at 8:57 am

    I started using alternatives to YouTube for watching YouTube – Invidious, FreeTube, NewPipe, the works.

    Google have become real jerks with their websites – blocking them unless you agree with whatever their terms are, YouTube loads and works like ass even on a good computer running their browser – Google Chrome.

    1. Tom Hawack said on June 8, 2021 at 11:10 am

      Same here, @Dumbledalf, supervised by Firefox’s ‘Privacy Redirect’ extension.
      Access is even further totally blocked to Google, YouTube, all social websites and more at the DNS level with DeCloudUs. And e get along very well without these intruders. Nevertheless, given so many, far too many sites call Google and YouTube quasi systematically extensions such as above-mentioned ‘Privacy Redirect’ (for YouTube, Twitter, Instagram (partially), Google Maps, Reddit, Search Engines) together with ‘LocalCDN’ allow to view the continent from a preserved island.

  6. sigh said on June 8, 2021 at 7:19 am

    vivaldi doesnt even need extension for that…web panel ftw, i open all of my socmed/instant messenger from there, less tab to care about.

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