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all in one sidebar for firefoxWhen it comes to browsers, I’m on a constant, head-on war with clutter. If you’ve read some of my previous articles, you already know that I have a terrible case of the multiple-tab and multiple-window syndromes, and that I do what I can to minimize any kind of toolbar clutter, even if it means giving up on certain functions.

As much as I hate clutter, though, I’m only human. And humans need quick access to downloads; humans sometimes need to access bookmarks and history; humans, especially those who try to minimize add-ons, need frequent access to their add-on window; and humans definitely need multiple browser windows. At least some of the time. So how, in the name of the browser Gods, do you get easy access to all these things without going crazy on clutter and add-ons?

The secret lies with an old-timer add-on, which I nonetheless discovered only recently: All-in-One Sidebar for Firefox. We already mentioned this brilliant add-on in How To Load Google Search Results In A Preview Panel (On The Same Page) How To Load Google Search Results In A Preview Panel (On The Same Page) How To Load Google Search Results In A Preview Panel (On The Same Page) Read More , but this article only touched on a very small part of this add-on’s capabilities. While somewhat similar to Vertical Toolbar Going Vertical - Free Your Browser Window From Clutter With Vertical Toolbar [Firefox] Going Vertical - Free Your Browser Window From Clutter With Vertical Toolbar [Firefox] I love Firefox. Yes, it’s not perfect, I’ll admit to that in a heartbeat, but for me, it’s almost everything I want from a browser. One thing that does bother me though, is its slight... Read More , All-in-One Sidebar is much more than a toolbar, making Firefox’s most overlooked feature – the sidebar – actually useful.

The Basics Of All-In-One Sidebar

Ready to give it a try? Head over to the add-on’s page to install it. Once that’s done, you’ll find a new vertical toolbar sitting on the left side of your browser window. All-in-One Sidebar, or AiOS as I will refer to it from now on, comes with many options and features, and finding your way around can be a bit confusing at first. So let’s take it step by step, and see what this add-on has to offer.

all in one sidebar for firefox

AiOS comes in two parts: the toolbar and the sidebar. By default, the toolbar comes with six different icons, which you can customize as you would any Firefox toolbar (right click -> customize). The default buttons are: bookmarks, history, downloads, add-ons, MultiPanel, and page info. Each of these opens the sidebar, giving you easy access to some useful information.

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The toolbar itself can be customized too. Right click it to change the buttons’ appearance, and to choose the toolbar’s position relative to the sidebar.

all in one sidebar firefox

Use the button on the top right to toggle the sidebar automatically so it’s never in your way, to open a tab’s content in the sidebar or the sidebar’s content in a tab, and to close the sidebar. Every button on AiOS comes with an informative tooltip, teaching you exactly how to activate each feature.

all in one sidebar firefox

Making Use of The Sidebar

AiOS brings almost every important Firefox feature to the sidebar. Not only do you get quick access to your bookmarks, history, downloads and add-ons, you can also customize the experience to make it even faster. Click on the Tools button to reveal more relevant options for each section. For bookmarks and history, for example, you can have AiOS remember which folder you were looking at last and automatically focus on it, which can be extremely useful, especially for bookmarks.

all in one sidebar firefox

The Downloads section is a real life-saver if, like me, you hate the obscurity of the Firefox downloads window. To get it to be more like Chrome 3 Firefox Add-Ons That Provide The Chrome Features You Love & Miss 3 Firefox Add-Ons That Provide The Chrome Features You Love & Miss As you’ve probably experienced yourself, when you get used to a browser, no matter the annoyances, there are certain features that really grow on you. Features you feel you cannot do without, and are keeping... Read More , I’ve been using Download StatusBar 3 Cool Addons to Replace The Mozilla Firefox Downloads Window 3 Cool Addons to Replace The Mozilla Firefox Downloads Window Read More for ages now, but AiOS takes care of this by giving you quick access to all your downloads right in the sidebar.

all in one firefox sidebar

You can search within any of the sections to find specific bookmarks, pages you’ve visited, files you’ve download, etc. The search is live, so just start typing to see instant results.

all in one firefox sidebar

When it comes to add-ons, you can search for, install, disable, and remove add-ons right from the sidebar. If you have any Greasemonkey or Stylish scripts installed, you can access these too from the sidebar.

all in one firefox sidebar

The MultiPanel option lets you open two websites side by side, one in the sidebar and one in the main tab. You can change the sidebar’s width to fit your needs, or choose the “Small Screen Rendering” option, if the the website supports it. Using this option, you can have your email tab always visible, easily browse search results, etc. You just have to be creative. You can also bring up detailed page information for any webpage you’re viewing, tweak permissions for specific sites, and more.

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Each of the available AiOS sections can also be called upon via keyboard shortcuts. Many of these are the same ones you may already be used to from your pre-AiOS days, so there’s not going to be much of a learning curve.

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More Options

Want the sidebar to appear on the right? Want to open it with mouse hover instead of click? Or maybe you don’t want downloads to open in the sidebar for some reason? You can tweak almost anything you can think of from the Options (Ctrl+Shift+F4 or “All-in-One Sidebar Options” from the top menu).

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From here you can also set the sidebar’s default minimum, standard and maximum width, change the keyboard shortcuts, add and remove menu entries, and more. More advances settings are available through the Settings button. All advanced options are marked in red to help you tell the difference.

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To make sure you won’t lose your settings after spending valuable time tweaking them, you can export them to a TXT file, and import them into the add-on again on a different computer. This is also a great way to back up your settings, just in case. You can even copy your settings to the clipboard.

all in one sidebar for firefox

Bottom Line

I’m not easily impressed with add-ons, but All-in-One Sidebar is an excellent addition to anyone’s Firefox browser. Yes, you shouldn’t install too many browser extensions 3 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Install Lots Of Browser Extensions [Opinion] 3 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Install Lots Of Browser Extensions [Opinion] We all love our browsers, and we all love the extensions that you can install with them. We love browser extensions because they allow us to do what we want our browser to do that... Read More , but AiOS can easily replace several you’re already using, and comes with so many different functions, I didn’t even come close to describing them all in this post. AiOS feels like an add-on programmed with actual users in mind, and as such, it won’t stop surprising you.

Don’t forget to check out our free Firefox guide for more useful Firefox tips.

Which are your favorite add-ons? What do you think of All-in-One Sidebar?

  1. suneo nobi
    April 12, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    Superb! The extension provides ease and quick access that Firefox must have built-in feature like that within itself.

  2. michel
    April 9, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    I had one reason for installing this add-on: moving the sidebar to the right. It does that fine, but if you set it to auto-open, it's behaviour is annoyingly inconsistent. About half the time it simply will not open without a click. Uninstalled.

    • Yaara Lancet
      April 10, 2013 at 7:04 am

      Weird, I didn't experience that problem. Sorry you had trouble with it. I'm sure there are other add-ons out there that can move the sidebar to the right, if that's all you're looking for.

  3. Nevzat A
    April 9, 2013 at 6:25 am

    An elegant firefox extension. Thanks for sharing it.

  4. Jeremy Garnett
    April 9, 2013 at 12:37 am

    Worth keeping an eye on. I currently use 'Vertical Toolbar' down the side of my vertically aligned screen. Never-ending space, or so it seems.

  5. Spike
    April 9, 2013 at 12:13 am

    No mention that this is a direct copy of Opera sidebar?
    In Opera, just press F4 to show it.

    When I use Firefox, I always use all in one sidebar, it's great for browsing bookmark.

    • Yaara Lancet
      April 9, 2013 at 6:48 am

      I haven't used Opera enough to safely say it's a direct copy, and it didn't seem relevant to the article if I say so or not.

      It's not that I don't like Opera, I would actually love to use it, but it doesn't support my other language very well, causing some very annoying bugs. So until they fix that, I'm sticking to Firefox. :)

    • macwitty
      April 9, 2013 at 2:12 pm

      Copy or inspiration? ;) For me is just good to get one of my favorite thing in Opera also in Firefox - now I just waiting to get it in Chrome

  6. dragonmouth
    April 8, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    "humans need quick access to downloads; humans sometimes need to access bookmarks and history; humans, especially those who try to minimize add-ons, need frequent access to their add-on window; and humans definitely need multiple browser windows."

    Well then, I guess I'm not human. I have 7 addons that run all the time. I have set their preferences and options, now I don't even think about them. Right now I have 2 tabs open. That is all I need. If I want to download a file, I right-click on it, click on Save File, the window closes once the d/l is done.

    What you need to do is to get organized, and I don't mean use an All-in-one-sidebar. You need to work more organized. Try not to do 15 or more things at once because none of them will get done well. Reading Joel's latest article might help you.

    • Yaara Lancet
      April 9, 2013 at 6:46 am

      Ah, but I didn't say you're not human if you don't need those things. Just that if you need them, you're probably human. :)

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