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My Favourite Tool. The Google Toolbar

I just don't understand how people can live without the Google Toolbar. It's easily the most used feature in my browser. When I recommend it to a colleague I tend to get one of a few replies:

"But I've got google desktop down here"

Google Desktop

"I've got a little google search box here in firefox"

Google Search in Firefox

These tools are all great but they lack the killer feature that the toolbar provides.

Let's think about the process of searching. I type in my search terms, I hit search and google (or other) provides me with a list of documents containing my search terms (sadly, engines aren't sophisticated enough to interpret and answer my question just yet).

I scan the results and choose a likely hit. And the experience ends there: I'm often left trailing through the document trying to find mention of the phrase I was looking for.

Not with the Google Toolbar

Google Toolbar with Word Find enabled

Make sure you have Word Find enabled and google gives you buttons for each word (or quoted words). Give 'em a click and it'll whisk you through instances of that word in the current page. Awesome. I just can't live without it.

To optimise the experience you'll want to get rid of all the buttons you don't use - giving you plenty of room for your word find buttons.

Just one thing

There is just one thing that drives me nuts about this feature though and that's the way it just ignores most non alpha-numeric characters.

Type in System.OutOfMemoryException and you'll get two buttons [System] and [OutOfMemoryException]. Wrap it in quotes and you get just one button but no '.': [System OutOfMemoryException]. Please, please sort this out Mr Google!

If you know of a similar tool that will make me (and everybody else) even happier - be sure to leave a comment.

Desktop Search

Whilst I'm here I really should mention my new favourite desktop search: Yahoo! desktop. I've recently moved over to Yahoo!'s offering, after years of avoiding their brand and I have to say I'm really pleased with it. It's fast and unobtrosive, only getting in my way when I want it to (by clicking on the notify icon in the status tray). Nice.

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Josh Post By Josh Twist
1:32 AM
25 Aug 2006

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