The Sidebar is permanently attached to the left side of the window. It has 2 modes: retracted and extended. In retracted mode it looks like this:
It has six sections that provide easy access to the various elements (instruments, samples files, and presets) that you will use in LMMS. When you click on any one section label, the side bar will extend and show you the contents of that section. Click the section label again to retract the bar.
When you click on the Instrument Plugins button (), the sidebar expands to show you the available instrument plugins:
AudioFileProcessor - playing audio files
BitInvader - "simple and dirty" wavetable synthesis
Freeboy - an emulator of the sound chip of the Nintendo Game Boy
Kicker - drum synthesis
LB302 - a monophonic implementation of the TB303 sound
Mallets - a struck-instrument synthesizer
Monstro - a 3-oscillator synth with pulse sync and a modulation matrix
Nescaline - a synth emulation of NES audio chip
Opulenz - an FM synth emulation of Yamaha YM3812, a.k.a. OPL2
Organic - an additive organ synthesizer
PatMan - a GUS-compatible patch instrument
SF2 Player - the official SoundFont2 player
SFXR - a simple sound generator
SID - an emulator of the sound chips used by the C64
TripleOscillator - the "standard" subtractive synthesis module
VeSTige - VSTi-hosting plugin
Vibed - vibrating-string synthesis module
Watsyn - a 4-oscillator wavetable synth
ZynAddSubFX - a powerful hybrid synthesizer
By default, no instrument plugin is selected. When you hover the mouse over one, its box will expand to include a description of the plugin: you can then drag an instrument plugin to either the Song Editor or the Beat+Bassline Editor, or double-click an instrument plugin label to add it directly to the Beat+Bassline Editor.
In all sections, except for the Instrument Plugins section, the listing you get is like a directory tree. Folders are marked with a folder icon. If you click in the check-box to the left of the folder-icon, the folder opens and displays its contents indented to the right of the folder name. To close it, click the check-box again.
These folders are the same as on your computer, allowing you a convenient way to open sounds and presets on your hard disk from within LMMS.
Open folders can be smart-searched, so you can find an item with a token search. Use the small input-field in the bottom. Just enter a few characters from the item's filename, and the smart-search in LMMS will filter the names in the currently open folder. Smart-search does not search sub-folders!
To the right of the input-field there is an Update button. If you can't find a newly created file, click the Update button: all the folders are updated and the tree will collapse (this is also an easy way to close all open folders).
Let's take a closer look at the tabs.
The second option in the sidebar; a shortcut to the project folder-browser. Depending on your user-created sub-folders, there will be a browser-tree. Double-click on the name of the project you want to load. Wait for the project to load completely, before using other features in LMMS!
The next 2 tabs on the side-bar contain your instruments. They are the Samples and the Instruments. Both have similar behavior.
My samples gives you easy access to LMMS samples collection. Samples can be WAV, OGG and FLAC sound files. You have smart-search and can update the display. To preview the sample, left-click and hold on its name. Drag the sample to the Song-Editor or the Beat+Bassline Editor to add it as a new track. When you drag-and-drop a sample into either editor, the new track will be added at the bottom of the track list. You can drag the grip dots on the left end of the track to move the track to where you want it in the track list. Double-click the sample to add it to the Beat+Bassline Editor as a new track. The mouse cursor symbol will show a reject-sign as you drag if the sample can't be dropped into that window.
My presets gives you easy access to a collection of predefined instruments. Presets are instrument plugins with pre-saved settings and tuned controls. You have search field at the bottom, and can update the display by clicking the refresh button. Warning: you should make it a habit to save your project before you preview a preset (i.e. before you left-click and hold on a preset), because sometimes previewing can crash LMMS. Another thing you must remember is to never preview VeSTige preset! VSTs are not build by the LMMS-team, and they can't be handled as our own instruments can. I repeat: never preview VSTs!
Drag the preset to the Song-Editor or the Beat+Bassline Editor to add it as a new track. If you drag a preset into (i.e. on top of) an existing preset in either of the editors, it will replace the previous preset. Otherwise, when you drag-and-drop a preset into either editor, the new track will be added at the bottom of the track list. You can drag the grip dots on the left end of the track to move the track to where you want it in the track list. Double-click the preset to add it to the Beat+Bassline Editor as a new track. The mouse cursor symbol will show a null sign as you drag if the preset can't be dropped into that window. You can also right-click any preset, and use the context-menu, to add it to the editors. This way of adding presets, gives you very good control, and you should always use this method, when you handle VSTs.
The 5th tab in the sidebar, My home is a shortcut to a specific folder on your system. On Windows systems this corresponds to the %HOMEPATH% folder (i.e. the current user's profile) containing folders such as Desktop, Favorites, MyDocuments, etc.
The last tab on the sidebar is a shortcut to the root of your computer's folder tree. You can browser the tree and even use token-search. Quite handy for general purposes.