Life without Google: The importance of toolbars and browser add-ons

Summary:As I go out and try different search engines, one thing is increasingly clear: Toolbars and browser add-ons are crucial. In fact, the lack of browser integration is probably the biggest reason alternative search engines remain just an alternative.

As I go out and try different search engines, one thing is increasingly clear: Toolbars and browser add-ons are crucial.

In fact, the lack of browser integration is probably the biggest reason alternative search engines remain just an alternative.

My plan for this life without G

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oogle series was simple: Find a few search engines, add them to my search bar in Firefox and give them a whirl.

That plan, however, takes a little work--especially if you habitually search through your browser. For instance, a "manage toolbar" link (left) in Firefox takes me to a link that includes most of the big search names. By clicking on the "get more search providers" link you get a wider assortment.

But if you want add smaller search engines, like the ones highlighted on Read/Write Web's Alt Search Engines site you have to know two things:
  • What alternative search engine you want to add to your browser;
  • And where to go to add the plug-in.

For that first item, I picked one of Charles Knight's alternative search engines of the month--Kartoo--to add to my browser. For those interested in alternative search engines, Alt Search Engines blog is a must read.

Once you make your search engine selection--I used Knight's project as an initial screen--you have to find the plug in. To add a lesser-known search engine to Firefox you have to visit the Mycroft Project. Via Mycroft I was able to add Kartoo, which is my next search experiment.

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Mycroft is quite handy, but the average bear isn't going to take the time to add an alternative search engine. That fact may be why most of the Web is using 5 search engines, including AOL.

On Internet Explorer 7, adding a search engine is different but pretty eas

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y overall. On the top right search box you can find the find more providers link.

From there you are taken to a page with other providers. Like Firefox, the initial list is predetermined, but you can add more search engines with a little more work.

From the search provider page you can add other search engines by searching on TEST (see right) and adding that link in the box Microsoft provides. It worked for most search engines I tried, but not all.

Bottom line: It takes a little more motivation to use alternative search engines from your browser.

Topics: Browser, Google

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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