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Internet Explorer

Custom Sidebar

If you want to create your own own sidebar then it is simply a matter of creating the HTML page in the correct format. Your sidebar can contain links to anything that you like, so this could include a search box, links to other sites etc. As the page can be loaded from a web server it is ideal to use internally and have messages and status information for internal networks in that column.

Creating the Page

The page is a standard HTML page, so can contain any elements that you can place in a regular page. However in our experience we have found that placing all elements in the centre of the page will allow it to be displayed correctly in the bar.

Creating the Links

For the bar to work successfully you need to be careful about your links. If you create the links in the regular way then when the links are clicked they will open in the side bar rather than in the main page. In some cases you may want this to happen, so that the user's regular browsing is not affected. However if you are including a search box then you may want the results to appear in the main window.
The side bar is basically a frames page - so use frames techniques to control the links. To get the links to open in the main window, add the target="_main" to the link: <a href="http://intranet/" target="_main">Intranet</a>

Adding the Sidebar to Internet Explorer

To make the sidebar available to Internet Explorer you need to make some registry changes.

However before you start modifying the registry, you will need a unique identifier for your sidebar. This ensures that it doesn't clash with anything else on your machine.
The identifier is known as a GUID. You can get a GUID generated for free from here:

You can use the same GUID on other machines for the same sidebar.

The registry entry below is the base for what you need to use to add the side bar to your machine. Copy and paste it in to a new notepad document so that you can edit it.

There are three things that you need to change, plus one to review during testing.

  • Each place where it says <your GUID> you need to put the GUID that you have generated from the above web site. Makes sure that you leave the { } at either end of the GUID.
  • In the first key, where the example has "Side Bar Name" change the entry to what you want to call the sidebar. This is what will show in Internet Explorer - so make sure that it is spelt correctly, grammatically correct etc.
  • In the URL box you need to enter the full URL of the location of your sidebar. If you are testing, install IIS on to your workstation and use the http://localhost URL, but for production use the URL will need to be an address that works for the user's machines.
    Don't forget that the link can be an SSL link or even a public facing web site, so you could use a public URL to allow laptop users access to the sidebar when away from the office.
  • The last entry is the "BarSize". This is the default width of the bar in Internet Explorer. While you can change this yourself once the bar is being displayed, you should be looking to start off with the bar wide enough for your page. This is measured in pixels and is stored in HEX, but is easily converted between decimal and hex within the registry or by using Windows Calculator.

Enabling the Explorer Bar

You need to restart all Internet Explorer sessions before you can use your new Explorer bar. On Windows Vista a reboot is often required. However once the entry is in the menus, any further changes that you make in the registry are live immediately, allowing you the opportunity to test before deployment.

To enable the bar once you have created the registry entry, choose View, Explorer Bar and select your bar.

Registry Disclaimer: We cannot be held responsible for any damage done to your machine by using registry files or following any of the advice given on this site. Modification of your registry is done at your own risk. You should always have a back up of your registry before making any changes. Click here for more information on backing up your registry.

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