How to Navigate the Left Side of Facebook’s Home Page

The left side of any screen on Facebook is taken up by what Facebook calls the sidebar. The sidebar is the menu on the left side of the page that provides links to frequently used areas of the site, as well as access to your online friends for easy chatting. This menu is black, with various colorful icons representing the section of the site they will take you to.

Depending on the width of your browser window, you may see the sidebar in either its minimized or its expanded state. If your browser window isn’t wide, the minimized state shows just a few icons. You can hover over the menu to expand it and select the link you need.

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The sidebar is divided into two sections. The top section provides links to the parts of Facebook you use the most. The bottom part of the sidebar is the friends section. It functions a lot like a buddy list to allow you to chat easily with your friends.

The favorites section

Some of the items in the top part of your sidebar may vary depending on which parts of the site you use more. For example, certain apps may appear here if you use them a lot. If you’ve never joined a group, you won’t see any here. However, in general, starting at the top and working your way down, you should see most, if not all, of these items:

  • Timeline (<Your Name>): If you squint really hard you may recognize that this small photo is the same photo you see on your Timeline, the profile picture. Clicking this photo brings you to your Timeline (you’ll know you’re there because the text next to the little "f" logo now shows your name).

  • Privacy Shortcuts (lock icon): Chances are that you care a lot about your privacy and exactly who can see your content on Facebook. Although there are lots of privacy configurations, opening this menu lets you check on your current settings, edit settings, and access links to other privacy tools you may find useful.

    Here are three basic questions Facebook thinks you might have about privacy that need to be answered from these shortcuts:

    • Who can see my stuff?

    • Who can contact me?

    • How do I stop someone from bothering me?

  • News Feed: It’s a constantly updating list of stories by and about your friends. News Feed is a way to keep up with what your friends are doing, and see their most recent photos, videos, and activities. You can always go back to your Home page and News Feed by clicking this link, the Home link in the blue bar, or the “f” logo in the blue bar.

  • Messages: This link opens your Messages Inbox. Facebook’s messaging system is actually fairly different than what you may be used to in your e-mail, but it's very useful.

  • Events: This link brings you the Events page, where you can see upcoming birthdays and events you’ve been invited to. Events can range from intimate birthday parties to big talks or lectures.

  • Apps: Apps are games or features that aren’t built by Facebook employees, but that use (with your permission) Facebook data to function. As you start to use apps, they may appear here. Clicking a link to one will bring you to that app’s Home page.

  • Groups: Your sidebar shows a few groups that you use frequently. Groups are ways to communicate with groups of related people. That might be a group of people who are in a book club together. When you click a link to a group, you’re taken to its Home page on Facebook where you can see recent posts and discussions.

  • See More: The apps and groups you use most frequently appear in your sidebar, but these aren’t all the apps you may use or groups you belong to. To get to your less frequently used groups or apps, simply click the See More link to view a complete list.

The Friends section

The bottom part of the sidebar is basically a buddy list. It shows you all your friends who are online (signified by green dots next to their names) or using Facebook mobile (signified by a mobile phone icon next to their names). Facebook puts the friends you interact with most often at the top of this section; you can scroll down to see all your friends who are currently online.

Clicking a friend’s name opens a chat window at the bottom of the screen, where you can type a message directly to that person.

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