Sidebar (computing)

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The sidebar is a graphical control element that displays various forms of information to the side of an application or desktop user interface.

Widgets in sidebars[edit]

In a number of Widget engines, one is able to install applets (known by various trademarked terms as "widgets", "desklets", and "gadgets") which can reside within or outside the sidebar. Notable examples include:

Application window sidebars[edit]

In specific desktop applications, such as the Opera web browser,, SoftMaker Presentations and Windows Explorer, one is able to view various features (that are allowed by the developer(s) of the application) within the sidebar of the application.

Other terms and variations[edit]

Sidebars can also be positioned to the bottom of an application window, such as in Adobe Photoshop.

Mac OS X[edit]

A screenshot of HandBrake depicting a drawer opened on the right

In a number of predominately-Mac OS X-based desktop applications, drawers, which draw out of the application window rather than expand from the inside like most application sidebars, are used. Drawers were very common in early versions of Mac OS X. The standard email client, Mail, used drawers for listing mailboxes prior to 10.4 ("Tiger"), when they were replaced by a traditional sidebar. A number of other Apple-created applications and third-party applications have replaced drawers with a sidebar, or re-designed the interface to make a sidebar/drawer unnecessary. Apple's Human Interface Guidelines now recommend against their use.[1] Formerly drawer-heavy apps, like iCal and Adium, now contain no drawers at all, and instead display an optional sidebar within the main window.

Examples of apps with drawers include:

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "OS X Human Interface Guidelines". Drawers are rarely used in modern Mac apps. As much as possible, redesign your UI to avoid using drawers; if you’re creating a new app, avoid adding a drawer to the design.