In the LibreOffice 4.1 release, a feature called the Sidebar gives you quick access to
document property settings, styles and formatting, the image gallery, and the
Navigator; this allows for easy drag and drop into your document. Sidebar isn’t entirely new — it’s borrowed from the OpenOffice Symphony Sidebar
introduced in OpenOffice 4.0.

At the time of this writing, the Sidebar is considered
experimental. Here’s how to get and enable this very handy feature that makes using LibreOffice much more efficient.

Upgrade to LibreOffice 4.1

First, you must upgrade to LibreOffice 4.1. If you’re on the
Windows platform, you need to go to the LibreOffice download site,
download the latest version, and install. If you’re using Ubuntu Linux, you
have to do the following:

  1. Open
    a terminal window.
  2. Add the repository with the command sudo add-apt-repository ppa:libreoffice/ppa.
  3. Update apt with the
    command sudo apt-get update.
  4. Upgrade with the command sudo apt-get upgrade.

If you find apt reporting that the
LibreOffice upgrades have been held back, do the following:

  1. Open the Dash (Windows
  2. Type software.
  3. Select Software Updater.
  4. Run the updates from there.

Now open LibreOffice and go to Help
| About LibreOffice — the release should say at least If that’s the
case, you’re ready to go.

Enable the Sidebar

  1. Go to Tools | Options |
  2. Click the Enable
    Experimental Sidebar (On Restart) box (Figure A).
  3. Click OK.

LibreOffice should restart, and the
Sidebar should be present.

Figure A

To enable/disable the LibreOffice
Sidebar, check or uncheck the box.

There are four icons in the upper
right corner of the Sidebar. The icons are (from top to bottom):

  • Properties
    (document properties)
  • Styles And
  • Gallery
  • Navigator

Click any of the icons to open
the appropriate section of the Sidebar.

Try the Sidebar

With this long overdue
design feature, you no longer have to jump into menus to gain access to things
like text formatting or the document navigator. If you don’t like the
LibreOffice Sidebar (Figure B), you can always turn it off.

Figure B

The Sidebar in action