Microsoft has Added a new sidebar to your Edge browser With buttons that let you view information about a site, check your email, access Microsoft Office, and even remove essential elements of a recipe from a very long post (Via Windows Central) Looks like the new feature is built on the “Search in Sidebar” function Added to Edge in 2020But it adds even more multitasking capabilities.
The sidebar includes a few small but useful panes, such as one that lets you search the web and read articles quickly, or one that includes a variety of widgets, such as calculator, dictionary, internet speed test, and unit converter. Some panes are more fully painted; Outlook One, for example, lets you read and send email as well as view your calendar (as long as you’re logged into your Microsoft account, of course).
Unfortunately, the Microsoft Office pane isn’t that useful. It gives you quick shortcuts to recent documents as well as apps like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, but clicking on them opens them in a new tab. While this might help some people get things done a little faster, I was personally hoping to be able to open a mini spreadsheet next to whatever site I’m browsing. The game sidebar is similar – it’s just a shortcut for web games.
Then there’s the “Discover” sidebar pane, which promises to add “information contextually relevant to any page.” From my testing, this can include information about a news site that ranks how reliable and accurate it is and that information shows which countries people come from. It does its best to add context to specific articles on those sites, or to other things you’re reading, usually with information from Wikipedia (the interesting thing is that sometimes it does. You are reading a Wikipedia article).
One of the most useful tricks of the Discover pane, however, is when you’re on a recipe site, where the sidebar will automatically pop out the list of ingredients, potentially giving you a paragraph about the author’s favorite singer. Might save scrolling through – though I’ll note that you may still have to do that if you want to read the actual instructions on what to do with those materials.
The sidebar itself is customizable to some extent. You can hide or show it using the keyboard shortcut (Control + Shift + / by default), and choose which buttons you want to show on it. Microsoft says it plans to add “new features to the sidebar in the future,” but there’s enough out there for now that it’s probably worth giving it a shot if you’re an Edge user.
If the sidebar doesn’t appear automatically, make sure You are on the latest version of the browser, and then click on the “···” menu at the top right. You should see a “Show Sidebar” button. If you don’t, go to Settings > Appearance, and scroll down to the Customize Toolbars section, where the “Show Sidebar” toggle is on.
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