New Microsoft Edge sidebar feature will make it easier to search the web

Microsoft Edge Update Dev New
Microsoft Edge Update Dev New (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft is testing a new sidebar feature in its Edge browser.
  • The option is currently in a controlled rollout for Edge Canary.
  • The sidebar lets you search the internet while within a web app.

Microsoft has a new sidebar in the works for its Edge browser. First spotted by Leo Varela, who shared images of the feature in action on Reddit, the sidebar will allow you to search the internet from a web app without having to navigate to another page.

A sidebar is already available in Edge, though it is a bit more difficult to access. If you highlight text within a web app (or on any webpage), you'll see the option to search in the sidebar for whatever you have selected. You can also highlight text and press CONTROL+SHIFT+E to search in the sidebar.

Source: Leo Varela (Image credit: Source: Leo Varela)

The option that's in testing will let you click an icon in the title bar to open the sidebar within Edge. This is a bit more obvious for those that are unfamiliar with the feature. It also draws attention to the title bar, which can be customized.

The new way to access the sidebar is in testing in Edge Canary. You'll have to enable a flag titled "Web App Sidebar" to use it. It's part of a controlled rollout, which means you may not be able to try out the feature even if you're on the latest build of Edge Canary.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

8 Comments
  • Maybe it's just me, but I wish there were an option to open the sidebar by making Edge wider, instead of by crunching the page view to be narrower. Sometimes shrinking the viewing area is fine, like for a quick lookup, but I generally like to keep my page viewing part of the browser window at a standard page width. I don't care how wide the browser window gets on my screen, just want to preserve the width of the viewing area. The current sidebar always clobbers the viewing window, shrinking the web page and often breaking the layout.
  • Have you made the suggestion to Microsoft via feedback? A lot of people post criticism and suggestions in places like this instead of where they might actually make a difference.
  • John, yes. I post a fair amount of feedback through the Feedback app, and, in the case of Edge, via the Alt+Shift+I popup. :-) In this case, perhaps because of my product-development focus and interest in studying reactions to different UI elements, I'm more curious if my preference is common or unusual. Which do you prefer?
  • In my case, the only the only times my browser window isn't maximised is when i want to see content in a window behind it at the same time. So your option would annoy me if the sidebar covered the background window
  • Thanks. Yeah, I would think if you generally run windows so they take up most of the screen, you wouldn't want the sidebar to make it even wider. And with more and more 3:2 screens coming out, screen width probably becomes more of an issue. But I would think that most screens sold today are still 16:9, which seems so much wider than needed for a typical web page, unless you zoom way in to make the font on the page enormous.
  • I definitely agree about the width of the sidebar. There are constant formatting problems, even in Bing.
  • The "Edge Bar" got updated too with a new look and feels like it's part of the OS. It takes the whole vertical length including the title bar. and has an auto-hide option, has vertical pinned tabs, and a bunch of neat settings. Very cool. I wonder if this is why they don't allow the Windows 11 taskbar vertically on the sides anymore lol?
  • You LOLled but I seriously agree!