newsletter banner

ISSUE 20.43.F • 2023-10-23 • Text Alerts!Gift Certificates
You’re reading the FREE newsletter

Susan Bradley

You’ll immediately gain access to the longer, better version of the newsletter when you make a donation and become a Plus Member. You’ll receive all the articles shown in the table of contents below, plus access to all our premium content for the next 12 months. And you’ll have access to our complete newsletter archive!

Upgrade to Plus membership today and enjoy all the Plus benefits!

In this issue

INTERNET: How to use the Microsoft Edge sidebar

Additional articles in the PLUS issue

WINDOWS: Introducing Microsoft PC Manager

FREEWARE SPOTLIGHT: Hard-drive imaging — AOMEI Backupper Standard

PATCH WATCH: Windows 11 23H2 is around the corner

WinXDVD Halloween Treats: Giveaways, Prizes & Software Deals!
WinX DVD Copy Plus WinXDVD is offering no tricks but all treats! You can snag WinX DVD Copy Pro completely free (value $42.95)! This powerful program can back up any DVD to DVD/ISO image and MPEG 2 file, while enabling swift DVD burning and extraction.

The excitement carries on! In the “Vote for Horror Movie” campaign, you could win a projector, spooky dolls, and the prized WinX DVD Ripper.

But that’s not all! WinXDVD indulges in thrilling discounts of up to 78% on WinXDVD’s acclaimed multimedia tools, featuring DVD Ripper, Video Converter, iPhone Manager, and more.

Don’t miss out!


How to use the Microsoft Edge sidebar

Lance Whitney

By Lance Whitney • Comment about this article

The sidebar in Microsoft Edge offers you a handy way to access frequently used tools, apps, websites, and other items.

When it comes to browsers, I’m a dedicated Firefox user. But I have to admit I’ve been using Microsoft Edge more often. One Edge feature I like is its sidebar, through which you can easily access Microsoft 365, Outlook, Bing Search, Image Creator, and other tools and apps.

The sidebar is customizable, so you’re able to add and remove different items and even include links to Web pages. Some Edge users may overlook the sidebar, but it can be a helpful way to quickly launch the tools and sites you regularly use.

Edge is built into Windows 10 and 11 and works the same in both versions. If you need to install it for a different version of Windows, head to the Edge download site and click the right arrow next to the Download button. Here, you’re also able to install it for a different operating system, such as macOS.

To get started, fire up Edge and click the plus button on the right, just under the Bing icon. Doing so brings up a right pane where you can now customize the sidebar. Clicking the same button then closes the Customize pane (see Figure 1).

Click the plus button
Figure 1. Clicking the plus button triggers the right pane for tweaking the sidebar.

Add apps

By default, the sidebar doesn’t display any icons, so your first task should be to populate it with the apps and tools that you like to use. Scroll down to the Manage section to see all the apps you can add. The current list includes the following:

  • Action Center — Check out recommended settings from Microsoft to earn rewards.
  • Search — Access Bing Search.
  • Shopping — Access coupons and savings for shopping
  • Tools — Use a variety of tools including a calculator, unit converter, translator, dictionary, world clock, timer, stopwatch, and more.
  • Games — Play an array of online games directly in the browser.
  • Microsoft 365 — Launch any of the Microsoft 365 applications, or open a recent document or other file.
  • Outlook — Sign in to Outlook to retrieve your email.
  • Image Creator — Use the Bing AI Image Creator to generate an image based on your description.
  • Drop — Transfer files between your Windows PC and mobile device.
  • E-tree — Earn rewards by planting an electronic tree that Microsoft eventually turns into a real tree.
  • OneNote Feed — Create notes within the browser.
  • Designer (Preview) — Describe an image that you want generated.
  • Skype — Sign in to Skype to chat or make a call.

To add a specific app or tool, just flick on its switch and then click its icon on the sidebar to activate it. After you close the Customize pane by clicking its X, all the icons you’ve added are accessible from the sidebar (Figure 2).

Add app to sidebar
Figure 2. Turn on an app’s switch to add it to the sidebar.

Among the apps offered by Microsoft for the Edge sidebar, the ones I’ve found most useful are Search, Tools, Microsoft 365, Outlook, Image Creator, and Drop. Those are the items I typically keep nestled on the sidebar, but your mileage will naturally vary based on your app use and preferences.

After you click an app’s icon, the app appears in the right pane for you to use (Figure 3).

Click icon to view app
Figure 3. Click an app’s icon to view and use it in the right pane.

Some apps allow you to vary the width of the right pane. Move your mouse cursor to the separation bar between the main browser window and the right pane. If the cursor turns into a double arrow, then you can drag it to the left to widen the right pane and back to the right to shrink it. How much you can drag it depends not just on the app in the right pane, but also on the webpage in the main browser window  (Figure 4).

Change the width of the sidebar
Figure 4. Drag the separation bar left and right to change the width of the right pane, for supported apps.

Here, you’re also able to manage the pane itself. At the top of the pane will be a few different icons that vary based on the app. If the pane displays a minimize icon, clicking that is the same as clicking the X to close the app’s pane. Click the app’s icon on the sidebar to view it again (Figure 5).

Minimize/close pane
Figure 5. Minimizing the pane is the same as closing it.

By default, the right pane is typically pinned to the screen. Visually, the pin at the top appears dark. Pinning means that both the right pane and the main browser window display side by side. So if you drag the separation bar to the left, the browser window will be resized accordingly. If you unpin the right pane by clicking the Pin icon, and then drag the separation bar to the left, the right pane will overlay the main browser window (Figure 6).

Pin the right pane
Figure 6. Pinning the right pane displays it side by side with the main browser window.

A three-dot icon for each pane provides other settings and a way to send feedback to Microsoft. Certain apps offer additional options when you launch them in the right pane.

Search displays an icon to open a link in the left pane. Tools presents a Settings icon that lets you turn off certain tools and control the order in which they appear. Microsoft 365 displays a search tool from which you can search for recent files by name. Outlook provides a button to take you to its home page, where you’re able to access other Microsoft apps and content (Figure 7).

Apps with more options
Figure 7. Certain apps offer more options at the top of the pane.

To remove an app, just click the plus icon and turn off its switch in the Customize pane. Alternatively, right-click the icon for the app you want to remove and select Hide from sidebar. From this popup menu, you can also access the Customize pane or close the app if it’s currently running (Figure 8).

Remove an app
Figure 8. Right-click an app on the sidebar to remove it, close it, or access the Customize pane.

Add a website

You can add your favorite websites to the sidebar to quickly open them. At the Customize pane, Microsoft suggests sites that you may want to add — such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon. Click the Show more link to see more sites, including Facebook Messenger and eBay. Just click a site to add it to the sidebar (Figure 9).

Suggested webpage
Figure 9. Add a suggested webpage to the sidebar.

Add the current webpage

To add a different page to the sidebar, browse to it and then click the button for Add current page (Figure 10).

Add current page
Figure 10. To add another page, open it in the browser and click the button for Add current page.

You may also be able to find a page by searching for it. Start typing the name of a webpage in the search field. As you type, a list of corresponding websites might appear. The list is based on popular sites, so you may not be able to find the one you want. But if you do, select it from the list and then click the Add button to add it to the sidebar (Figure 11).

Search for webpage
Figure 11. Try searching for a webpage and then adding the one you want from the list.

The icon for each page you add appears in the sidebar. Click an icon to launch its webpage in the right pane. To open the page in the larger browser pane, click the icon for Open link in new tab at the top. Here, you can also refresh the page, copy the link, pin or unpin the pane, or close the pane (Figure 12).

Launch browser for webpage
Figure 12. After launching a webpage in the right pane, you can open it in the larger browser pane and access other settings.

To remove a webpage from the sidebar, click the plus icon to access the Customize pane and click Remove; or, right-click the page’s icon and select Remove from sidebar (Figure 13).

Remove webpage
Figure 13. Remove a webpage from the sidebar via the Customize pane, or right-click on it and remove it from the sidebar.

Manage the sidebar

Finally, you can manage the sidebar through Edge’s settings. Click the Settings icon at the bottom of the sidebar, or click the three-dot Settings icon at the top, select Settings, and then go to Sidebar. At the top, you can flip the switch for Always show sidebar to turn its display on and off. Next, keep the switch on for Personalize my top sites in customize sidebar to personalize the top suggested sites based on your browsing history (Figure 14).

Sidebar visibility
Figure 14. Through Edge’s settings, choose whether the sidebar should be visible and whether suggested sites should be personalized.

Turn on the switch for Allow sidebar apps to show notifications to receive notifications from any of the apps you’ve added to the sidebar. Under App specific settings, click each listed app to control specific settings for it. For most apps, you can control site permissions and notifications. For apps such as Microsoft 365 and Outlook, you can determine whether certain content opens in the right pane (Figure 15).

App settings
Figure 15. You can control certain settings for each app you add to the sidebar.

Further down, click the button for Manage site notifications to manage notifications for the websites you’ve added to the sidebar.

Whether you use Microsoft Edge all the time or just occasionally, the sidebar is a helpful way to quickly access and open specific apps and websites. Setting up and customizing the sidebar is a relatively painless process. And once you’re done, your favorite apps and sites are just a click away.

Talk Bubbles Join the conversation! Your questions, comments, and feedback
about this topic are always welcome in our forums!

Lance Whitney is a freelance technology reporter and former IT professional. He’s written for CNET, TechRepublic, PC Magazine, and other publications. He’s authored a book on Windows and another about LinkedIn.


Here are the other stories in this week’s Plus Newsletter


Lance Whitney

Introducing Microsoft PC Manager

By Ed Tittel

Not many people know about the Microsoft PC Manager application, despite its being available in English since October 2022.

One reason you might not be aware of PC Manager is because it is still in beta. It also began as a Chinese-language app in early 2022, which in all likelihood would not have caught the immediate attention of English speakers.

However, it’s clear just from the URL of PCM’s microsite,, that Microsoft has plans for the program. (It even has its own logo.) You can download the program from that location.


Deanna McElveen

Hard-drive imaging — AOMEI Backupper Standard

By Deanna McElveen

At, we test a lot of software. Sometimes we do so in a virtual machine that we can reset when things get out of control.

But a lot of software deals with the actual hardware in a computer, so we must use our test system to assure that a rogue app does no harm. In that case, we make a drive image before we experiment.

There are many free and open-source backup programs out there. Some do just file backups, and some also do total hard-drive imaging. That means they take a snapshot of your entire hard drive and save it as a single file, or perhaps a few files. In this article, I will concentrate on my favorite program in this class.


Susan Bradley

Windows 11 23H2 is around the corner

By Susan Bradley

The 23H2 release of Windows 11 is coming soon. Don’t panic — you can defer. But before its release, you should be prepared.

First, make sure you are on Windows 11 22H2 if you are using the Home or Professional Windows 11 editions. Second, I recommend downloading and keeping a copy of the Windows 11 23H2 ISO from Microsoft’s download site.

You can also use the Rufus tool to download past versions of Windows 11. However, I feel that Microsoft download is the easiest way to ensure you have all the necessary media should you need to do a repair install at a later date.

Know anyone who would benefit from this information? Please share!
Forward the email and encourage them to sign up via the online form — our public newsletter is free!

Enjoying the newsletter?

Become a PLUS member and get it all!

RoboForm box

Don’t miss any of our great content about Windows, Microsoft, Office, 365, PCs, hardware, software, privacy, security, safety, useful and safe freeware, important news, analysis, and Susan Bradley’s popular and sought-after patch advice.

PLUS, these exclusive benefits:

  • Every article, delivered to your inbox
  • Four bonus issues per year, with original content
  • MS-DEFCON Alerts, delivered to your inbox
  • MS-DEFCON Alerts available via TEXT message
  • Special Plus Alerts, delivered to your inbox
  • Access to the complete archive of nearly two decades of newsletters
  • Identification as a Plus member in our popular forums
  • No ads

We’re supported by donations — choose any amount of $6 or more for a one-year membership.

Join Today buttonGift Certificate button

The AskWoody Newsletters are published by AskWoody Tech LLC, Fresno, CA USA.

Your subscription:

Microsoft and Windows are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. AskWoody,, Windows Secrets Newsletter,, WinFind, Windows Gizmos, Security Baseline, Perimeter Scan, Wacky Web Week, the Windows Secrets Logo Design (W, S or road, and Star), and the slogan Everything Microsoft Forgot to Mention all are trademarks and service marks of AskWoody Tech LLC. All other marks are the trademarks or service marks of their respective owners.

Copyright ©2023 AskWoody Tech LLC. All rights reserved.