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All-in-One Sidebar

July 20th, 2007 at 4:00am — Rating: Firefox pointFirefox pointFirefox pointFirefox pointFirefox pointLink

I always like saving space when it comes to toolbars and status bars. So when I read about the All-In-One Sidebar, this made me even more excited about installing this fantastic extension.

For those who have never used the sidebar functionality in Firefox, bookmark a site, get the properties of that bookmark, and click the checkbox "load this bookmark in the sidebar" to experience what a sidebar can do for you. For you add-on developers out there, I would highly recommend reading up on how to create your own sidebar.

Why do I need it?

The All-In-One Sidebar (AiOS) maximizes your real estate by taking all of the common features of Firefox and allocates them into one sidebar positioned either on the left or the right side of Firefox.

After installation and restart, the AiOS appeared on the left and defaulted the most common tasks used in Firefox on the sidebar with some additional bells and whistles. The default tasks include Show/Hide the Sidebar Automatically, Display Your Bookmarks (Organize dialog), Display Pages You've Viewed Recently (History dialog), Display the Progress of Ongoing Downloads (Downloads dialog), Display Installed Extensions and Themes (Add-ons dialog), Display Web Site, Source Code, and Browser Information, and Display Extensive Information about a Web Page (Page Info dialog). Each option has been used at least 3 times since I've installed the extension. They're that helpful.

Cleaning up your act!

While using AiOS this week, I happened across two other unexpected surprises with the extension. One surprise was the addition of icons displayed to the left of menu items to help associate the functions in the sidebar. For example, a puzzle piece icon appeared next to the Add-Ons menu item when I clicked on the Tools pulldown in Firefox. Since I installed the new version of Firefox, I thought this was a new feature. It was an added feature installed through the AiOS.

Surprise number two was the ability to take some of your icons and tasks in the status bar and moving them into your AiOS. BIG real estate saver!

The reason I say some is that there are add-ons and extensions out there that do not allow the icon or extension to move from the status bar to a toolbar. The best thing to do is experiment and customize your own sidebar. Consider the AiOS as an additional toolbar, but it's just located on the left or right of Firefox instead of at the top. :-)

To clean up your status bar, right-click on a toolbar at the top of Firefox OR right-click on your AiOS and click "Customize..." Move some of your more "space hogs" from your statusbar into your AiOS. You'll feel so much better you did.

If you think the options are cut short in this extension, think again. There are tons of options for this extension. The options are displayed in the familiar Firefox tabbed dialog fashion, which is great for usability. There is a General, Panels, Menus, and Shortcuts tabs with enough customizations to please even the pickiest user.

Conclusion

The AiOS is definitely a handy extension to have and it provides another feature that most power users of Firefox will appreciate: it's a space-saver. The AiOS can take all of your existing status bar extensions and move them out of the way until you actually need them.

I can clearly see this extension winning an award for won so many awards and absolutely deserves a 5 out of 5 rating.