Note: This blog post is from 2008. Some content, links and indeed comments from others may be outdated--though not necessarily. Corrections are welcome, in the comments. I may revise the content if necessary.Do you use the Google toolbar, and if you have it, do you use it regularly? If you'd dismiss it, are you aware of all its features, including several hidden ones? I use them every day, and, no, the built-in search box in FF and IE 7 doesn't come close. Let me share a few tips with you if you'd missed these.
In the current voting most say they use none, and some commenters are dismissing them as "wastes of space". I thought that odd, as I use the google toolbar every day. I offered up the following as a comment, and then thought I'd share it here for my readers (have done only a slight bit of editing from my original comment there):
It's a shame to see some call toolbars a waste of space. OK, so many you've lamented them getting auto-installed on an unsuspecting user's computer, or hated when one tries to do that on yours. But not everyone who has one is an idiot.
For instance, I love the google toolbar and have for years. Sure, I realize that FF (and now IE7) offers a search box, but that's not all that the google toolbar does for you. Unfortunately, some of its best jewels are hidden gems, in that you may need to enable them with the "settings".
I use the "site" button every day (type in a search word and click the button to search what Google knows only about the current site). Sure, you can do it yourself with the "site:" keyword in any google search box you may have, but this is much less typing over the course of a day.
Same with doing a google image or froogle/products search, both buttons you can easily add.
There's also the "up" button that's worth adding, which lets you traverse up a site, whereby it removes whatever's at the end of the currently used URL. Often quite handy. Again, all things you could do yourself manually, but one click is nicer, and makes the toolbar very much worth the space to me.
These and a few other things are tips I first shared back in 2003.
Some features don't use any "space" at all, as the toolbar also enables a context menu on each page you visit. You can right-click the whitespace of any page you visit to see (under "page info" in FF2 and IE7):
- backward links
- cached snapshot of page
- similar pages
- translate page
Again, all these are things you can do without the toolbar as long as you have a quick google search bar of some sort and know the corresponding google keywords (link:, cache:, etc.). But again I use some of these every day, so I love not having to type those--plus some users would learn this way of these valuable Google features: they might not ever think to learn the keywords (or use the "advanced search" at google.com).
If I have one complaint, it's that I don't understand why these last 4 features aren't enabled as toolbar buttons (that can be added, optionally). I'd give up the space occupied by "send to" and "autolink" (though some may love those), and certainly "check" (the spell check) since that's built into FF. Anyone from Google (or others who might know more about this) care to comment?
Anyway, don't dismiss toolbars (and the google toolbar especially) so readily. You may be missing out on more than you know.
Hope that helps someone. (Actually, for some reason I still don't see my comment posted on the makeuseof blog entry. I suppose they may have some verification process. If I don't see it in a couple of hours, I'll post the above there again.)
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