Google Releases Upgraded Toolbar
By Chris Sherman, Associate Editor
January 30, 2006
Google has enhanced its toolbar for Internet Explorer, introducing several new features that will appeal to regular users of the program.
The new features include enhanced "suggestions" that appear on the fly as you type a query, the ability to add custom buttons to search your favorite sites, the ability to create and save online bookmarks and to share web pages with others.
"One of the areas we wanted to focus on was to empower users more," said Sundar Pichai, Google group product manager.
The new query suggestion feature is similar to the "auto suggest" feature that's currently available in the Google toolbar for Firefox, with a few new twists. In addition to suggesting popular queries that match the words you're typing in the search box, the new feature also suggests spelling corrections and also presents potential options from your own toolbar search history and bookmarks.
Custom buttons allow you to quickly visit or search favorite websites with the click of a button. To create a custom button, simply visit a web site and right click on the site's search box. A context menu appears with the option to "generate custom search;" select this option then give a name and description to the button.
Custom buttons can also be tailored to display feeds, headlines or other dynamic information from a particular web site. To take advantage of these features, select the "options" menu, highlight the custom button you want to modify, and click the "edit" button. On the pop-up window select the "use the advanced editor" link and follow the instructions to make appropriate changes.
Site owners can also create custom buttons for users. This involves modifying a short piece of code and can be accomplished by most users in under 10 minutes, according to Pichai. If you put a custom button on your site, users can add it to their toolbar with a single click. For more information, read the how-to guide on the toolbar website.
Google has also established a gallery of pre-coded custom buttons that are available for download. Site owners are also encouraged to submit the buttons they create to this gallery.
The new online bookmark feature is very basic, allowing you to bookmark favorites and add labels to your saved URLs. To save bookmarks, you must have a Google account and be logged in.
Bookmarks are searchable, though only the title and URL of the bookmark is considered in the search—the full text of bookmarked pages isn't saved or cached. You can access these bookmarks from any computer on the net, either via the Bookmarks menu on the toolbar or through the search history feature in your Google account.
Finally, the new sharing features let you share web pages via email (if you have a Gmail account), text message (SMS), or to a Blogger powered blog. You can share an entire page or an excerpt by highlighting the section of the page you want to share before clicking the "Send To" button on the toolbar.
Version 4 of the Google toolbar is available in the U.S. in English, for Internet Explorer only. Google plans to release the toolbar in 16 languages by end of quarter, and also plans to release a Firefox version with the new features at some point.
Separately, Google has also released a toolbar for the enterprise, that offers the ability to centrally deploy the toolbar, create group features, and create custom buttons specific to an enterprise's own internal intranet or network.