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Firefox Add-on: iGoogle Sidebar

July 20th, 2008 by Lyall

As a big fan of Firefox I’m constantly on the lookout for useful add-ons to make the browser more useful (to be fair it’s pretty amazing already), some time ago I came across Sebdotv’s iGoogle Sidebar which adds a new sidebar to Firefox containing your iGoogle modules in an optimised layout.

For me this is great, i rely on several iGoogle modules for quickly getting to my Google Bookmarks, Reader and Notebook so being able to see them all the time without having to return to my Google homepage is very useful.

Development of the iGoogle Sidebar add-on seems to be slow although the author is keeping it compatible with Firefox as it is updated, so that’s good.

In my mind there are two small flaws that make it a pain to use:

  1. Can’t autostart with Firefox (I have to open the sidebar when I open my browser)
  2. It won’t remember the width I have resized it to, so every time I open the sidebar I have to resize it

You can see the progress of the reported defect on the issues page.

A Short Term Fix

I couldn’t wait so decided to have a play around and managed to get the sidebar to behave as I wanted, below are instructions for making the iGoogle Sidebar open with Firefox at a specified pixel width.

Instructions are for Windows (XP/Vista) although it might work in Linux, this was successfully carried out on Firefox v3.0.1 with the iGoogle Sidebar add-on v1.3.7

  1. Close all Firefox windows
  2. Locate your igsidebar-overlay.xul file in your user profile\extensions folder, if you don’t know where that is take a look at this guide for locating your Firefox profile folder. For me it’s in this folder:
    C:\Documents and Settings\<user>\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\kxz4eqap.default\extensions\{14d1580a-2611-11db-9628-00e08161165f}\defaults\preferences
  3. Open the file in your favourite text editor
  4. Line 41 will look like this:
    <vbox id="igsidebar-box" insertbefore="sidebar-box" hidden="true">
    Change it so that it looks like this:
    <vbox id="igsidebar-box" insertbefore="sidebar-box" hidden="false" width="260">
    You can substitute 260 for whatever pixel width you prefer, i found 260 to be optimum but it will depend on what’s in your sidebar and your screen size/resolution.
  5. Line 77 will look like this:
    <splitter id="igsidebar-splitter" insertbefore="sidebar-box" hidden="true" />
    Change it to:
    <splitter id="igsidebar-splitter" insertbefore="sidebar-box" hidden="false" />
  6. Save and close igsidebar-overlay.xul
  7. Open the file igsidebar-overlay.js, it will be in the same folder as igsidebar-overlay.xul
  8. Line 45 will look like this:
    this.applyLeftSide(this.prefs.getBoolPref(this.PREF_LEFT_SIDE));
    Straight after this on a new line add:
    this.toggleIGSidebar();
  9. Save and close igsidebar-overlay.js

That’s it, open Firefox up and the iGoogle Sidebar should load automatically.

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