Google Toolbar is the main topic of this review, but through the toolbar you also get to utilize many other Google features! So with a few of the features I explain below, you don’t have to install the toolbar to use it, you can get it directly from Google! If you are ready to learn about all the great things at Google… dive in!!
Other Annoying Toolbars
You know how you download a program, and they auto-install those annoying toolbars? You automatically think dang it! More spyware/adware that I have to specially remove! These toolbars are not only annoying but they cause more trouble then they are worth. If you’ve never seen one before, you may think it looks cool to download a “smiley central” toolbar or something along those lines. Let me warn you, these are not cool…unless you like random pop-ups, links to sites you don’t want to visit, and a long, specialized process to be able to remove them!
So when I downloaded a shockwave.com game a few years ago, and saw the offer to install google toolbar, I questioned it. Do I want to install a toolbar? Is this really from google? I decided to try it out since I trust shockwave and I fell in love with this toolbar! Not only did it NOT install adware, but it has many many features that I have found so convenient that I now have this toolbar installed on every computer I use! Just for kicks, I uninstalled it once. The process was simple, with no mess like those other toolbars. So it’s not adware! It’s not spyware! It’s google :-D
Pop Up Blocker
The main reason I tried this and kept it is because of the handy pop-up blocker. Now I know that XP has it’s own pop-up blocker, but that blocks everything and it is so annoying! It blocks downloads, everything. So I disabled the XP pop-up blocker on all my computers and use Google’s instead.
When a pop up is blocked, you are alerted by a sound and a symbol on the bar. You can click the pop up button to “always allow pop ups from associatedcontent.com” or whatever site you are on. You can click it again to stop allowing for pop-ups on that site. It’s simple. If you have the options set to “show text” you will also see a count of how many popups were ever blocked by this toolbar. It’s pretty interesting as only a few weeks after using this it had blocked almost 250 pop ups! Imagine the pain of trying to close all those windows. Now it is not a problem. Yay!!
My next favorite feature is the spell checker which I use online a lot. I can spell check almost any form and it will go through all the fields in the form and works much like MS Word in allowing me alternative choices and spellings. Unfortunately it doesn’t work with this block of text on Associated Content but it works on all the other form fields and on most sites.
Now you have the “Search” box on your IE bar anytime you want to look something up. No more navigating to Yahoo or Google because it is right there. You have all kinds of settings such as:
1) Save your search history across browser sessions, only in this browser session or don’t save it at all
2) Open search results in a new window/tab automatically so you don’t even have to open an IE window in order to search!
3) See a drop down of all past searches or popular searches
When you search, the results come up at google.com just like they would if you were at google’s site to start with. But there’s more! If you type in the search box and just press enter, it will search the website listings. However, if you type in the search box and then choose from the little dropdown, you can search for images, news, groups and more! It’s very convenient.
The find feature works along with the search or alone. All you do is hit ctrl+F and type in some words. Now, you’ll see all the words you typed showing on the find toolbar. Each one is clickable – and you can click through to see where the word is on the page just like Ctrl+F. However, there’s more! You can highlight each word you typed in the box anywhere it is found on the page, and each word will have a different color.
Now what I do is search, and then hit the find/highlighter button on the search results page. As you navigate from page to page those words you typed remain in the search box and the highlighter stays turned on until you turn it off. When I’m looking at a page, it is so easy to scroll through it really fast and see where the yellow or blue or green words are. It’s awesome and I use this daily!!!
Page Rank and Voting
You can also turn on Page Rank and Voting buttons. Vote for any page you are on with either a happy face or sad face. Total votes from all google toolbar users are tallied, but you won’t see your vote instantly. This is useless but still fun!
This is a great idea and a pretty good feature. Let’s run through an example. I went to Bed Bath and Beyond’s store locator and got a bunch of addresses. Sure BBandB has links to “map” but they aren’t very pretty. So I click the “auto link” button on my toolbar. Now every address is “linked” so I can click on it to see a map of the location. Further, all the addresses show in a drop down in my google toolbar in case I didn’t see them on the page! The google map is much bigger and cleaner than a lot of other mapping options.
If you set this up with all your default information (name, address, phone, etc) The auto fill will try to fill out forms for you with the click of a button. It is pretty intuitive. If you fill in the info, every time you visit a form you will notice certain fields highlighted in yellow. These are the fields auto fill can fill in for you! You can even store credit card numbers right on your toolbar. So cool.
Finally, I use the toolbar to link to my Google Bookmarks. I no longer use IE Favorites because Google Bookmarks can be accessed from any computer. The coolest feature of the bookmarks is that I can highlight text on the page, and then bookmark that page. When I come back, that text will be highlighted for me! It’s neat and helps me remember why I bookmarked a page sometimes. It’s pretty much just as easy to bookmark with Google as it is with IE, but with the google bookmarks you can access them from anywhere.
If you haven’t gotten a Google Toolbar yet, do it now! The toolbar has many more features that I haven’t even touched on since these are the ones I use the most. The toolbar keeps me organized and keeps all my favorite tools at the click of a button. Plus, it’s pretty easy to customize it to only show your favorite features. Enjoy!!