Love it or hate it, Google’s Side Panel is chock-full of great content, because, well, it’s your content! Your bookmarks, history, Reading list items you’ve saved for later, Chrome customization, and more all reside in the latest obsession created by the tech giant.
At first, it was fairly rudimentary, and didn’t even let you resize it so that your saved article titles were legible, but that was quickly rectified. Now, it’s something I use near daily, and while it could certainly be less out of sight and out of mind at key moments of my browsing experience, I’m truly starting to accept its place on the right side of Chrome.
Wait…the right side of Chrome? Dang, if only I could move it to the left side instead. Well, actually, you can! Google didn’t advertise this, and I felt many of you would likely benefit from having this key piece of knowledge, so today, I’m going to teach you how to do just that.
Why Side Panel is right-aligned
Many of you reading this, just based on our audience demographic, read with directionality, and write sinistrodextrally. That means that you read and write from left to right. This is common in many romanized languages, and because of this, you’re more comfortable with nothing obstructing your view from the body of text on a website or article so that you can begin reading instantaneously.
This is likely why Google placed the Side Panel on the right-hand side of the browser. It’s out of your way! If you had it on the left, you’d likely feel it’s a big obstruction, and more importantly, your ‘workstation’ for reading and viewing content would be shifted over to the right.
To be honest, this would feel like you’re sitting at your computer with your keyboard and mouse in front of you, and you’ve shifted your monitor about six inches over to the right. You’d have to crane your neck, constantly avert your gaze from the ergonomic center, and yes, yes it would be awkward beyond belief.
Why you may want a left aligned Side Panel
Despite all of this, you may actually have reason to want your Side Panel and all of its content on the left side of your browser. Not everyone reads with directionality or writes sinistrodextrally. In fact, many languages in the world are written from right to left, like Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic, and more. With this in mind, having the panel on the right would feel just as obtrusive to your vision.
Here’s another reason you may want to have it on the left – vertical tabs. Actually, this is a strong case – anyone using the Chrome extension Vertical Tabs (or any of the host of other vertical tabs extensions with the same name… how original) will undoubtedly want their tabs on the left in the same style as Microsoft Edge.
Lastly, if you left-align your Chromebook shelf – as many coming from Linux tend to do instead of leaving it in the bottom position – having your panel, tabs, content, and shelf icons all on the left feels more like a navigational and comfort choice. It’s like your “home base” so to speak.
How to move Chrome’s Side Panel to the left side
Okay, let’s get down to brass tacks. Believe it or not, moving this side panel and all of its contents to the left from the right-hand side of Chrome is actually quite easy. In fact, I didn’t even know you could do it until I installed the aforementioned “Vertical Tabs” Chrome extension, and it had an option for it.
that’s when I realized that this feature is native to the browser, and not a modification the extension brought to the table. Truly, I can’t believe I never saw it before. That’s why I’m not sure if it’s a new update or not. However, simply opening Chrome and navigating to the top-right three dots ‘more’ options menu and going to ‘Settings’ will bring you right where you need to be.
Once you’re there, just click the left hand side’s ‘Appearance’ option and in the body of the options that you’re brought to, there’s a ‘Side panel’ option. Here, you can choose “Show on right”, or “Show on left” – the former is the option that’s selected by default.
The final result
Instantaneously, upon clicking the “Show on left” option, your Side Panel will jump over to the opposite side! Below, you can see my vertical tabs extension in action using this very setup. While it does support Tab Grouping and collapsing, it does not hide your horizontal top tabs (if you know an alternative, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below), and right clicking a tab group lacks the ‘Save’ option, so if you close a group, it’s destroyed.
In my opinion, this aspect of the extension makes it mostly worthless, and I’d love to see Google come out with a native version of this in the future. I seem to recall they toyed with the idea at some point, but I can’t be certain.
Anyway, I hope that helps! If you’re someone who reads right-to-left, wants to utilize vertical tabs, or wants to feel like all of your content is in one place on the left hand side of the browser, it’s as simple as a few clicks. Happy browsing!
I just want the steps!
- Open the Chrome browser
- Click the three dots ‘more’ options menu at the top right
- Click ‘Settings’
- Visit the ‘Appearance’ tab
- Under ‘Side panel’, click “Show on left”
- Install a Vertical Tabs extension for extra fun!