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

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.

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TOPICS: Browser, Google
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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 Gtoolbarff2.pngoogle 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.

toolbarff.png

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 eastoolbarie.pngy 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

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6 comments
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  • OpenSearch

    For search engines using OpenSearch it is plain simple to add them to the search bar. Just go to the homepage of the search engine and the option will automatically be in the FireFox menu.

    See here how simple it is to add GeoNames to the search bar :

    http://geonames.wordpress.com/2006/11/05/geonames-opensearch/

    Marc
    marc-andre
  • Easier in Opera

    In the Opera browser, you can right-click in any search field and select 'Create search'. Doesn't get much easier than that.
    Rijk
  • Try CHACHA

    A new search engine in BETA format Cha Cha is people powered. They actually have "live" agents to help you with your search!
    dmont
  • Categorizing search

    Try clusty.com. Save's lots of filtering time on stuff like "mercury" it will categorize on the fly: automobile, planet, element, Greek god, Teleflora trademark, fish ingredient, Freddy.
    seale.terry@...
    • Clusty-Ask

      Thanks for the tip. Clusty's page is nearly identical to Ask.com... same company? But while on the Clusty page I opened the search engine menus on Firefox and "add Clusty" was quite visible. And I did add it. Looks like it could be a handy search tool.
      usetompepsi@...
  • Toolbars

    While I agree about the importance of browser add-ons, toolbars are a menace. Wanna slow your browser down? Add a toolbar. They are usually bloated with unneccessary items & cause problems with browser functioning at some point, to say nothing of their obnoxious way of tracking things. I have removed all toolbars from my browsers- there is nothing I can't do as easy & as well without them, & I have more control over what goes on when I am browsing. The worst offenders are the biggies- Google, Yahoo, MS,AOL. Botttom line - they suck!
    pitchthunder@...