Enhanced Web Browsing With Toolbars
by Jim Edwards
As the Web grows more crowded and just plain "noisy" with
information bombarding us from every angle, most people
welcome any tool, trick or shortcut to help them wade
through the mountains of data to find what they want.
Since your web browser represents your main window to the
Internet, it makes sense for any tool which enables you to
find what you need and get around faster online should sit
right where you need it most.
Introducing Web browser "toolbars," free little programs
that work with Internet Explorer and Netscape to put you
several steps closer to the information you need right now.
~ Google Toolbar ~
The free toolbar from search giant Google offers the best
search features of any toolbar we evaluated.
Not only does it allow you to search the web, but also
enables you to search within a website to find specific
The Google toolbar's main features include "Page Rank,"
which gives an indication of a website's overall value based
on your search criteria and other factors, along with a
"backwards links" function which allows you to see which
sites link to the website currently loaded in your browser.
You can download the Google toolbar on your web browser by
visiting http://toolbar.google.com and following the simple
~ Alexa Toolbar ~
Alexa's main claim to fame revolves around its traffic
ranking report on virtually any site on the Internet.
The lower the Traffic Ranking number, the more popular a
site rates in Alexa's eyes. Currently Yahoo, MSN and Google
occupy the top 3 spots on Alexa's charts.
With so many websites on the Internet, an Alexa ranking of
less than 100,000 is considered good, and a ranking of less
than 10,000 is considered outstanding as far as a site's
relative popularity on the Web.
Alexa also offers a related links feature right on the
toolbar so you can quickly find links to sites that other
people also visit when surfing the site you currently have
loaded in your browser.
Alexa also offers a pop-up blocker to help cut down on the
pop-up windows that seem to invade your desktop the minute
you venture online. You can download the Alexa Toolbar free
~ AltaVista Toolbar ~
Former search giant AltaVista recently jumped on the toolbar
bandwagon with their offering from www.altavista.com.
Install the AltaVista toolbar and access a couple of
interesting features, including a language translation
button and an MP3 search.
Click the "Translate" button and instantly translate entire
web pages from one language to another.
The MP3 search will help you find the tune you want from
AltaVista's audio index.
Most of the toolbars offer additional gadgets to help you
with everything from weather forecasts to currency
Because they offer many of the same features and they take
up valuable screen space, using more than one toolbar at a
time often proves impractical.
Since most toolbars come free of charge, evaluate them all
for their main features and overall usability for your
particular needs and then stick with the best one.
Jim Edwards is a syndicated newspaper columnist
(http://www.TheNetReporter.com) and is the author of
numerous best-selling ebooks, information products and
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