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If you are a search-and-find specialist or hobbyist, Google's new beta (test) version of its toolbar will get those flagging `searcher' instincts (and statistics) up and running again.
So, what's new in the toolbar?
First up, Google has enhanced its core function - search. The new toolbar suggests search terms based on popular searches, spelling corrections and your own search history. For example, if you'd like to search for material on "tsunami rehabilitation," while you are entering the first word, by the time you get to "tsun", the search box offers you suggestions for "tsunami," "tsunami disaster," tsunami relief," etc.
You can also search a particular site only. If you are in a hobbyist or personal website that doesn't offer its own search, this feature is invaluable. For example, if you are looking for "You can't argue with a zombie" by Jaron Lanier at his site, just type in the title and click on the `search only this site' button.
The toolbar also has a time-saving feature: you can add custom search buttons to the toolbar. For instance, if The Hindu website is your preferred choice for news and archives search, you can add a button that will allow you to search for specific terms on The Hindu website only without visiting the site. All you have to do is right-click on the search box in The Hindu website and choose "Generate custom search" to add a custom search button to your toolbar.
Most of us get into a tizzy trying to manage our bookmarks - did I bookmark it at home or at work? Some of us are chronic bookmarkers who will fume at not being able to add or view bookmarks while travelling. (There are bookmarking sites that will help do this, but more on that in another article.)
In either case, the new toolbar allows us to make our bookmarks accessible from any PC with the toolbar and a Net connection. You will have to sign in with your Google account to use the toolbar bookmarks. Just make sure that you sign out when you are using a public or shared computer.
Perhaps the most useful feature in the new toolbar is the ability to send a page or an excerpt from a page to a friend. Say, you are reading an interesting article about M.S. Dhoni on a website and want to send it to your friend, you just click on the "Send To... " button and sign in to your gmail account to send the whole article - pictures and all. Or, you can select a part of the text and send it. This feature is especially useful when you are on websites that allow you to email only a link to your friend, or if the content is likely to go into a subscribers-only or registered users-only area of the website. Of course, you have the alternative of copying and pasting the content into your email message and send it, but this is far easier.
The blogger tool from the earlier versions of the toolbar has been integrated into the "send to... " button, and the send SMS option is available only in the U.S. The toolbar can become a better application by just extending or tweaking a few features that it already has: the ability to import and export bookmarks into the Google toolbar bookmarks; an option to check gmail from the toolbar; and a separate button for signing out.
Google can make the toolbar a can't-live-without-it application with just two more features: Firefox support; and social software (tagging and sharing). You can download the toolbar for free from http://www.google.com/tools
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