Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Beta Late than Never

Beta Late than Never

Google’s new toolbar beta is only available for IE; they have yet to release a version for Mozilla’s Firefox. Google has added a number of changes and enhancements to their toolbar. The toolbar retains the spellchecker, autolink, autofill and popup blocker. What has been added include customizable “buttons” (more information below), a send to function and enhanced bookmarking.

The days of “one size fits all” are drawing to a close. Personally, I think “buttons” is the greatest addition to the Google toolbar. Prior version did not have this functionality. When you surf to a webpage which contains a search box, right click within the box and choose “Generate Custom Search” from the contextual menu. This will generate a button that you can add to the toolbar. From this button you can run a search as if you entered the term in the original webpage. This feature resembles the “Add a keyword to this Search” function in Firefox. There are already custom buttons that have been developed by third parties and are free to download and install. Google has provided a website for the download of these buttons

The “send to” feature allows the user to send, either the selected portion of a page or the whole page” to their gmail account, Blogger and/or SMS. These features are new to Google’s toolbar but not new to the web. GmailThis is a bookmarklet which automatically loads gmail and launches a “compose new message” window with a link to the current URL address added to the body of the message. Granted, GmailThis only grabs the URL link but you can add the webpage as an attachment. Also, Yahoo! MyWeb 2.0 beta allows users to save cache copies of webpages into their accounts which can then be added as a feed on Yahoo! 360. There are ways to send a webpage via SMS message but they are not as streamlined as the feature seen in the toolbar. Nevertheless, it’s great to have all these features in one place.

The new toolbar has also added a much improved bookmarking feature. Prior to the release of this beta, in order to set bookmarks in Google, you had to go through Google’s Search History. Now, when you find an interesting webpage, you click on the bookmarks icon and select “Bookmark this page…” You can add tags to your bookmarks just like those in Google Search History. And, yes, you can add “stars” to your favorite bookmarks as well.

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