The Google Toolbar and Why you should be using it

By Curtis Dicken

Oooo, a Pop-up Blocker

Yep, you also get, free of charge, a built in pop-up blocker complete with a spiffy button that lets you see how many pop- ups have been blocked. And, yes, that's all there is to it.

Bookmark this Article!

Alright, you don't really have to bookmark this article but you may like the way that Google allows you to organize and import your bookmarks. The bookmark button does not automatically ask you if you want to import bookmarks from your browser when you install the Google Toolbar. You will have to import them yourself by selecting the import option in the drop down list of the Bookmark button. Before you can do that you will have to be sure to sign in to your Google account or create a new one.

Once you complete the import you may need to go back to the Bookmark drop down list and select Refresh to see all your bookmarks appear in the list. Now, here's the best part, your bookmarks are available on any browser you sign in to that has the Google Toolbar. In my case I use both Internet Explorer and Firefox frequently and I absolutely love having a single repository for all of my bookmarks. Now, to manage your bookmarks simply select "Manage All" from the Bookmark drop down list and you will be whisked away to Google's bookmark management page. Unfortunately, I don't have the space to go into much detail on the many different features of the manager but after about 30 minutes of poking around the manager you should have a pretty good idea on how it works.

Check Yourself Out

It wouldn't be a complete toolbar without a spell checker. This simple spell checker has an AutoFix option in its drop down list that checks everything you entered on any web form page. I find this especially handy when I am entering comments on a website and I can't remember how to spell something. The toolbar spell check is much easier than opening up a new web page to verify the spelling of a word. This is also where you select your language or tell the spell checker to auto-detect.

Fill in the Blanks

AutoFill is a great tool for those of you that frequently fill out forms on the web, or are just generally lazy. This simple little tool is very easy to set up and use. Before you can use the feature you will have to set up a profile with your name, address, telephone number, etc. You can set up the profile with as much or as little information as you like, including your credit card. Yes, Google assures you that any credit card information that you enter in your profile is safe and secure but personally, my trust issues don't allow me to make that leap of faith.

Once you have created a profile or set of profiles you can apply them to any web form you visit by simply selecting the profile from your list. The toolbar attempts to match up your profile information to applicable text boxes on the web form and fill them in. As you hover over your desired profile you should see what information will be placed in the text boxes of the form. This is intended to help you make a better decision on whether to have AutoFill do its thing and see what "clean up" you'll have to do before you commit with a click. It's as simple as that.

Just the Highlights, Please

This one is my personal favorites. How many times have you searched for something, found a result that looked promising and clicked on the link only to arrive at a page that is a clearing house of about 8,000 links with short descriptions for each link? If you have my luck, the answer to that question would be every single day. By clicking the Highlighter button you can quickly see all of your search keyword matches on the page you are viewing with each keyword getting assigned a different highlight color. You will also notice that Google Toolbar also creates a separate button for each of your keywords in the toolbar. This handy little feature allows you to step through the entire page finding each instance of any keyword. Each time you click on a keyword you will jump to the next instance on the page. This is an invaluable time saver when you are looking at a content heavy page.

Options, give me more options!

For those of you that live to customize everything, check out the full set of options by clicking on the Adjust Toolbar Options button (it's an icon of a wrench). This will take you to a management window that should seem familiar. It's the same window we used to make changes to the Toolbar Buttons and Search Type options earlier in the article. From here you can spend many joyful hours adding/removing buttons, setting up profiles, playing with search options and more. You can also uninstall the toolbar from here if you feel too overwhelmed.

But there's more

Obviously, we only highlighted some of the more popular parts of the toolbar. There are many more we didn't cover. Take a few minutes to download and try it for yourself. The price is right, it installs in a few minutes and you can uninstall it in seconds if you don't like it. Happy Google-ing!

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