No one desktop is like the other. Some people tend to clutter their desktops rigorously, others prefer clear open space, and yet others enjoy it neat and nicely decorated. While my “hardware” desk tends to be somewhat cluttered and requires a thorough cleaning now and then, I belong to the last group when it comes to desktops. With no icons disfiguring my beautiful wallpapers, I’m a sucker for easy to access additional space for holding shortcuts and the like.
Over time we have introduced you to quite a few dock programs on Make Use Of. However, the one I’m covering today is different because it really gives you extra space and a lot more freedom. The cues “stretching your desktop” and “side slide” might give a wrong impression, though. No, you don’t actually stretch your desktop to the side, but with SideSlide you add a tray of custom size which can hold almost anything you desire – shortcuts, bookmarks, feeds, system commands or notes. But let me guide you through the features step by step.
Position & Size
First of all you will want to give the freshly installed tool its custom spot on your screen. To show SideSlide or rather its workspace, click the little paper airplane symbol in your taskbar. Move the mouse to the top of the dark grey window until your cursor switches to a hand. Right-clicking the workspace here, you can drag it to your desired location on any side of your screen, then resize it like a regular other window, and you’re done.
The screenshot above reveals what the button in the top right of your workspace will do. The button next to it defines whether you can move and resize items on the workspace or whether they are locked. In this case (open circle) the workspace is unlocked, click the symbol to close the circle and lock it. With the buttons in the top left you can collectively shrink/expand, fold/unfold items on the workspace or manage your RSS feeds.
Content can be added in many different ways. RSS feeds, notes, URLs, system commands, file or folder shortcuts can be added directly onto the workspace. URLs, system commands, file and directory shortcuts can also be collected in separate containers. Folder containers can display the contents of a specific folder and you can open files or subfolders right from that container.
Please note that RSS feeds require Microsoft Core XML Services (MSXML) to be installed on your computer. You can download it through the Microsoft Download Center.
In many cases you can work with both the right-click and the left-click menu, which may give you the same or different results. The program is quite flexible, so it’s worth playing with it! To create a container for example, left-click into an open space and a small menu with color buttons will appear. Other than picking the color of your new container, you can use this menu to open the settings & appearance menu, save the workspace or toggle transparency. So pick a color for a new container, then draw the container onto the workspace. Alternatively, you can right-click onto the workspace and select >New >Container from the menu. If you love shortcuts, you can simply click [Ctrl] + [C] to create a new container.
There are so many little buttons and options, it’s very confusing at first. Let’s start with containers. In the top right corner of each container there is a little [+] or [-] symbol with which you can unfold or fold the container. The second button from the right is the letter [N]. Click it to hide or open the note field. You can enter a description or leave it blank and hide the contents. With the symbol in the top left corner of each container you can minimize it and with the symbol next to it you can view and select tags.
Tags are a great cue. Each item, with the exception of RSS feeds, whether it’s part of a container or whether it sits directly on the workspace, can be tagged. Right-click it and select >Properties from the menu. Here you can rename the item, choose a custom icon, add parameters, tags, and more.
The small image on the left displays a PDF document sitting on the workspace with the shortcut mini-toolbar opened. Open the toolbar by pressing the [Ctrl] key while clicking the shortcut. It allows quick and easy modification of font size and colors. But you can also access these options through the >Properties menu described above. As I said, SideSlide is extremely flexible.
One notable feature is that you can detach containers to appear as stable menus on your desktop, even when the workspace is collapsed. This can be extremely useful. For example you could create containers for specific projects and instead of having the workspace open, you can detach the container/s you will need for the current project and all the other junk is nicely hidden in the minimized workspace.
Settings & Appearance
It’s a hip tool and as such it must have some style options and well, it doesn’t disappoint, at least not much. The Settings & Appearance menu is most easily accessed via clicking F3 or F4, respectively. Unfortunately, the Settings window doesn’t look right on my computer. Many options appear as black bars. Not helpful. However, there is a great SlideSide Tour on the NorthGlide website which also contains a screenshot of the Settings window, so if you’re experiencing the same issue, refer to the screenshot below, which I got from their site.
Appearance looks just fine, and it’s what most interests me to be honest. You can change the wallpaper of your workspace, change the colors of almost everything, or select a preset theme. Very well done with a lot of options!
As I said before, there is an excellent SideSlide tour available on its homepage, and there is much left to be discovered. Enjoy exploring and let us know what you think!
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