Instead of viewing your bookmarks in a dropdown list that you have to trigger each time, you can leave them on display with a sidebar, an area on the left side of the Firefox window. To view your bookmarks in the sidebar, go to View | Sidebar | Bookmarks, or just press Ctrl+B. Figure 5-22 shows the bookmarks displayed in the sidebar.
Figure 5-22. Bookmarks displayed in the sidebar.
The bookmark list displayed in the sidebar has the folders and separators that appear on the bookmark list. One of the handy things about viewing the bookmarks in the sidebar is that any names you've assigned to the separators appear in the list (they are just lines in the regular bookmark list). The order in which the bookmarks appear in the sidebar is whatever the most recent viewing order was in the Bookmarks Manager, so you can have the bookmarks sorted by name in the sidebar and in your standard order in the dropdown bookmark list. You can open and close folders and click bookmarks as usual with this. The web page appears in the window on the right side.
One of the options when creating a bookmark is to check Load this bookmark in the sidebar on the Properties screen, shown near the beginning of this chapter in Figure 5-4. The next time you click this bookmark, the website appears in the sidebar. You can then click a link in the website displayed in the sidebar and have that link displayed in the main Firefox window. (A sample of this appears in Figure 5-23.) You're most likely to use this option if you've bookmarked a website that shows things like lists of links or short summaries of information.
Figure 5-23. Loading a website in the sidebar.
The sidebar has a Search field, which lets you search for the bookmark name (the same as the Search field in the Bookmarks Manager). You can close the sidebar by clicking the X at the top of the sidebar.
Viewing Your Browsing History: Where Have You Been Today?
You can also use the sidebar to display your browsing history. Your history is the list of the websites you've visited. Firefox automatically tracks your history according to the privacy options you set (as discussed in Chapter 2, "Protecting Your Security and Privacy"). Displaying your history is very helpful when you need to track down that one website you stumbled onto a few days ago but didn't think to bookmark.
To view your history, go to View | Sidebar | History, Go | History, or just press Ctrl+H. The browsing history appears in the sidebar, as shown in Figure 5-24.
Figure 5-24. Browsing history displayed in the sidebar.
The default is for history to be displayed sorted by date. You can expand the folders to show the history bookmarks for each of the websites you've visited, as demonstrated in Figure 5-25.
Figure 5-25. Expanding a folder in the browsing history.
When you're displaying the history in the sidebar, you have the option of sorting the display using the View button. You can also sort the history by date and site, by site, by most visited site, or by last visited site. Each of these sort options affects how the history is displayed.
As when you're displaying bookmarks, you can search for specific history items by entering an item in the Search field, and you can close the sidebar by clicking the X at the top of the sidebar. You can right-click history items and delete them, which is a big help.
The big disadvantage of using the sidebar is that it uses up a lot of screen real estate. You can drag the sidebar divider over to the left to minimize the amount of space the sidebar uses, but this shrinks the room for the sidebar display and makes it harder to read the information. You'll probably end up using the sidebar only when you really need it and leaving it off the rest of the time.
Creating and organizing bookmarks is a lot of fun. There's something satisfying about being able to create lots of bookmarks and have them filed Just Right so that you can find whatever you need with a minimum of effort. Firefox's many bookmark features and options are one of the best reasons to use it over any other browser.
The next chapter tells you about my absolute favorite Firefox feature: tabbed browsing. Sure, Firefox may have great security, dazzling search features, password management, and all the rest, but for my money, the instant I saw how tabbed browsing worked, I knew I'd never go back to IE. You'll learn how to open tabs, open an entire suite of related websites at once, and even how to create multiple home pages. Trust metabbed browsing is worth the price of admission all by itself.