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6 Great Alternatives to iGoogle

UPDATE: iGoogle will be shut down in a few days. You still have a little time to export your iGoogle information. The deadline for the demise of iGoogle, Google's start page, is getting closer (read how to export your igoogle feeds). While nothing will completely replace iGoogle, there are some alternatives out there.

Before we get to the alternative sites we need to define what a Start Page is. For this article a start page is a website that enables you to have various websites, news feeds, and widgets in one place. Most start pages have links to news, popular email services, weather, videos, calendars, To Do lists, maps, sticky notes, TV listings and access to all your social media such as Facebook. In essence, a start page lets you conveniently keep up with a large volume of information in one place. Most have tabbed pages, so you can have a page for each of your interests, RSS feeds, widgets (also known as apps), search boxes, and drag and drop as a way to easily arrange material on your pages. Most have a way to change themes, colors, backgrounds, and layouts. Start pages can open directly in your browser at start-up, or, you can add a bookmark for easy access. Finally, most start pages work well in any current browser. The biggest difference between start pages is in customization and how much material they offer.

NEW: Site visitor RobertKingsbury shared a site that has a pretty extensive list of iGoogle alternatives that also includes other sites they looked at but didn't think made the cut.
As always, our readers have come through with many suggestions in the comments. Check them out, you might find your perfect iGoogle alternative.
 

Netvibes
Netvibes could very well be your one stop site for finding and using all your internet information and social media. With over 96000 apps and several thousand themes, Netvibes is the most customizable start page I've seen. Feeds and apps can be added via the "add content" button at the top of the screen, where you also switch between App view and Reader view. Sadly, Apps and RSS feeds aren't searchable. Themes and the dashboard are easily accessible. The customization options should be more than enough for even the pickiest of us. :) Finding feeds and apps using the Netvibes categories can be a little time consuming since there is so much material, made easier by category topics and a search feature. From time to time I've had apps not work on my page - a trip to the FAQ and Help areas usually has a solution. The help, ecosystem and FAQ's are very well done, making it easy to find what you need. There's also a downloadable user guide in PDF format. Netvibes emphasizes their enterprise offerings (currently $499. a month) but personal accounts are free.

  • Free registration to save personalized settings: Yes
  • Social media integration: Yes
  • Add RSS: Yes
  • Import Feeds: Yes, OPML
  • Export Feeds: Yes
  • Add content easily from browser: Yes, bookmarklets and browser extensions
  • Public/Private Pages: Both
  • Mobile: http://mobile.netvibes.com
     

igHome 
igHome Developer Mike Sutton says his goal was "to create a site that looked and worked like iGoogle as much as possible to make the transition easy for users." I think he succeeded. Anyone who has used iGoogle will have no trouble getting around. Following the footsteps of iGoogle there's an upper black toolbar providing quick access to Google services like Gmail, Calendar, Bookmarks, Maps, Images, YouTube, Drive and the popular non-Google service Feedly. You can change the search engine (the default is Google) and the Black Bar links. The add gadgets page has the usual categories with a twist. Localized categories for Canada, Europe, Asia, Middle East and Africa, Oceania, Americas and some major US Cities. Click any of the location specific links and a drop down menu offers more choices and an assortment of feeds for that area. igHome.com is not affiliated with or operated by Google. (a big thanks to CASD for bringing this site to my attention <g>)

  • Free registration to save personalized settings: Yes
  • Social media integration: Yes
  • Add RSS: Yes
  • Import Feeds: Yes, iGoogle and OPML
  • Export Feeds: None found
  • Add content directly from browser: none found
  • Public/Private Pages: Private
  • Mobile: http://www.ighome.com/mobile/
     

My Yahoo 
My Yahoo is a lot like Netvibes in its layout, content, support for social media, and extreme ability to customize pages. Adding content isn't difficult, there is less material than Netvibes but it's easier to manage. If you're not sure what you want to see, there are several handy pre-loaded tabs. Pre-loaded tabs have been sorted by topic. There are tabs for cooking, gamers, video, news, travel, sports, fashion, social media, finance and so on. There's an infographic this page  outlining features. Every tab can be themed and customized - you can have a different theme and color scheme for each tab. Pre-loaded tab pages have (so far) high quality sites and information.

  • Free registration to save personalized settings: Yes
  • Social media integration: Yes
  • Add RSS: Yes
  • Import Feeds: Unknown
  • Export Feeds: Unknown
  • Add content directly from browser: Limited
  • Public/Private Pages: Private, with ability to share content with others
  • Mobile: http://mobile.yahoo.com/
     

My MSN
This description from the My MSN webpage says "Easily browse or search for the content you want to see on your page. Choose from hundreds of sources for new headlines, sports scores, weather forecasts, stock quotes, traffic conditions, and more. Use RSS feeds to add content from almost any website. Place content where you want it to appear. Create multiple tabs to organize your content however you want it. Choose different layouts for each tab so it works best for the content you use. Choose from a range of themes to change the look of each tab." My MSN is similar in layout to Netvibes and My Yahoo. Customizing options are less than Netvibes, and there are fewer apps and feeds to choose from. The MSN.com site has much of the same material, so why bother adding My MSN to the list? There's an easy answer for that. If email, social networks and events aren't your primary activity then what you might be craving is News. Data. Information. With My MSN you can easily keep up with headlines in the categories you're interested in. The default categories are MSN Tools, Featured, Business, Entertainment, News, Sports, Lifestyle, Technology and Shopping. You can add feeds from other sites, and there's always the MSN RSS Index.

  • Free registration to save personalized settings: Yes
  • Social media integration: No
  • RSS: Yes
  • Import Feeds: No
  • Export Feeds: No
  • Add content directly from browser: No
  • Public/Private Pages: Private
  • Mobile: http://onmobile.msn.com
     

Protopage
Protopage has a similar layout as My MSN and My Yahoo. The interface is fast, easy to use and uncluttered, making it easy to keep up with news podcasts, Tweets and other media. You can create an easy to use and great looking start page in a short time if you don't need the powerhouse features that Netvibes provides. Standout features include re-sizable widgets, an integrated audio/video podcast player, wizards for adding news feeds, podcasts, video podcasts, cartoon feeds and photo thumbnail feeds, an integrated search box with 750 preloaded search engines, edit-in-place sticky notes, and multi-category color coded tabs with instant page sharing. The introduction page is a good way to get a quick overview of Protopage's features. In addition to the 750 pre-loaded search engines in the search box, you can add a customized search engine of your own. Visual customizations include page titles, widget background covers, options to customize the background with plain colors, patterns and wallpaper images. You can upload your own images to create custom backgrounds. News feeds, maps, and audio or video podcasts are easily added. There's a large, useful choice of widgets and feeds. The widget showcase holds a huge variety of widgets contributed by third parties using Protopage's development environment.

  • Free registration to save personalized settings: Yes
  • Social media integration: Limited
  • RSS: Yes
  • Import Feeds: Yes, OPML
  • Export Feeds: None found
  • Add content directly from browser: Yes. Toolbar button, Chrome extension available now, Firefox version in the works.
  • Public/Private Pages: Both
  • Mobile: http://protopage.com/mobile
     

Symbaloo
Symbaloo is a start page with a twist. It's a logo based start page that may look simple at first, but you can customize it to a surprising degree. Between having multiple tabs, expandable sidebars, a search function that lets you search tiles, web mixes and the gallery; the ability to add tiles manually and add content right from your browser, there's a lot of options. If you are visually oriented you'll probably find Symbaloo useful and easy to use. I've always liked Symbaloo. Oddly enough, while I was writing this, they rolled out a new version with a new look and some added features. Customizing the background page is now possible using one of the wallpapers they provide or uploading your own. Symbaloo has a good description of what they are - they say that "...Symbaloo is a cloud based platform that allows you to save your favorite online sites, videos, articles, feeds and more. The site consists of tabs containing tiles that can be set to any online site, video, news source, etc. The Symbaloo database is filled with preset tiles, widgets and feeds to some of your favorite sites. The widgets, feeds and embedded content populate in the center widget area. There is also a bookmarker plugin, for your Firefox and Chrome browser, that allows for easier and faster bookmarking when surfing to new sites." Help, site introduction and tour are easy to find. Symbaloo will import bookmarks from Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Delicious and Diigo and has toolbar buttons so you can easily add things from your browser. You can find a downloadable user guide at this link (clicking the link starts downloading the user guide in PDF format) . If you're migrating from iGoogle, Symbaloo has an article called "Why Symbaloo is a good alternative to iGoogle" you might want to check out.

  • Free registration to save personalized settings: Yes
  • Social media integration: Yes
  • Add RSS: Yes
  • Import Feeds: No
  • Export Feeds: No
  • Add content directly from browser: Yes. Toolbar button supports Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.
  • Public/Private Pages: Both
  • Mobile: http://mobile.symbaloo.com/

Ustart
Ustart is similar to Protopage, with customizations for the usual items - email, RSS feeds, weather and so on. Its stand out feature is the ability to easily import content from iGoogle, Google Bookmarks, and Netvibes. The interface is clean and uncluttered. The day, date and time in the upper right corner is nicely done.
Customization is through blocks (widgets) that you can add, remove, move around and configure. Widgets come in two sizes, regular and large window. There's a good selection of themes and skins to customize the page background, and the background color of widgets can be quickly changed by choosing a color from the options section next to the title. Blocks are moved around using drag and drop. The selection is smaller compared to similar sites but all the basics are there and you can add your own through the 'Customize your page' feature. The weather widget has a two day forecast rather than the 5 day forecast that seems to be the standard. While I had no trouble finding forecasts for large cities, smaller towns weren't found. Creating an account is easy, you can log in using Facebook or create an account with a user name, email address and password. Look to the My Account section to change settings Such as Date display format, week number, font size and opening search results in a new tab or in the same tab. (Thanks go out to joebennet for mentioning this site in the comments)

  • Free registration to save personalized settings: Yes
  • Social media integration: Yes
  • News feeds and gadgets: Yes
  • Multiple tabs support: Yes
  • Add RSS: Yes, individual feeds.
  • Import Feeds: iGoogle page, Google Bookmarks, Netvibes, no RSS import
  • Export Feeds: None found
  • Add content directly from browser: Firefox and Chrome add-ons
  • Public/Private Pages: Private
  • Mobile: http://www.ustart.org/

Until next time,
Rhiannon

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Comments

by OptometristPrime on 23. July 2014 - 4:57  (117499)

So, I love Jolicloud. It's amazing, connects to most important social apps, as well as is a place for accessing all of your drops/cloud storage, and has an "App store" type thing which rules. I use it as my new tab page & my home page! It's fantastic for discovery & accessing awesomeness. It has a "my feed" area which is where you go as default, which if connected, shows you items from feedly, facebook, tumblr, and a bunch of other services. I can't remember quite if it does RSS, but I imagine you can accomplish that using Feedly anyways. It may not have widgets, or be a LOT like iGoogle, but I sure love it & use it.

by Oscarito on 24. October 2013 - 6:59  (111713)

Yes, I have add blocker but this works for the browser only, this does not applies to the startpage. My add blocker eliminates adds from my GMail but has no effect on the homepage...

by rhiannon on 24. October 2013 - 7:31  (111715)

So, your ad-blocker doesn't work on any other site except gmail?

by Oscarito on 24. October 2013 - 7:42  (111717)

When I said "Add Blocker" I refer to an extension for Mozilla Firefox. Yes, it works nice on GMail but as I've stated before this addon does not prevent Protopage to include adds on my startpage. Guess you're talking about some specific Add Blocker softwares... No, I don't have anyone so that I would be glad if you suggest something in this sense.

by rhiannon on 25. October 2013 - 2:47  (111737)

Got it, thanks.
You might take a look here:
Best Free Firefox Add-ons

It's updated regularly and has a section on ad blockers plus other categories.
There are some extensions that let you block certain things on a page.
You might want to ask there, I'm sure someone could make suggestions.
You might want to read the comments as well - we are very lucky to have so many knowledgeable members/visitors who contribute valuable information. :)

by rhiannon on 25. October 2013 - 2:52  (111738)

Forgot to add this article, it's a great resource.
How to Block Ads or Unwanted Content Missed by Filters

by Oscarito on 23. October 2013 - 13:17  (111695)

Bad news...

I've decided to use Protopage as my new startpage after some test and evaluation on the existent alternatives but since tomorrow there is a blank box named "Adds" at the top of all loaded pages. Moreover, they ask $2.49/mo to remove it. I felt myself blackmailed! Another "migration" is now on course.
Back to square one...

Sad!

by rhiannon on 24. October 2013 - 5:56  (111712)

Do you have an ad blocker on your browser? That could be part of the blank boxes with Adds.
If you don't have an ad blocker, you can get one for your browser (as long as it isn't Internet Explorer/IE) and block those ad boxes, that way you won't see them.

by macodray on 13. October 2013 - 23:20  (111468)

I read your article with great interest. Thank you.
As one comment mentioned that uStart was "way too British" I was keen to look at it as I find most things on offer on the net "way too American" and was delighted to think that something might be British!
I entered the web site and felt that it looked a bit 'odd' - perhaps the colours? Then I read the intro - the English used was apalling - reminded me of the language used in a phishing e-mail. I then searched for 'uStart reviews' on the net and was staggered by the number of reviews and warnings regarding spyware. I have reproduced one below. I, for one, will not risk using uStart -perhaps others would like to be aware of possible problems.

HOW CAN I GET INFECTED WITH uStart.org REDIRECT VIRUS?
The browser hijacker, which is responsible for redirections to uStart.org, can get inside the system in a bundle with freeware and shareware. Besides, various websites may also be involver to the distribution of this virus without any permission asked, so be aware about that. In order to avoid getting infected with this browser hijacker, you should always pay attention to the license agreement of the software and avoid commercial pop-up ads that typically appear when visiting different websites. As soon as this browser hijacker gets inside, it initiates various system's changes: it modifies the start page, default search engine, downloads toolbar and may initiate other unwanted activities. Please, do NOT ignore them and remove uStart.org redirect virus from the system.

by rhiannon on 14. October 2013 - 1:09  (111470)

I understand your alarm. When I started looking in to this page I ran across the same information.
Further investigation brought clarity.

uStart has a green rating from WOT, one of the services we use to check anything published here. If it didn't have a safe rating from WOT I would never have mentioned or recommended it. WOT isn't perfect, but if there were reports of a virus at the site they would quickly change the rating.

The sites mentioning the virus are themselves rated red or yellow by WOT - my take on it was those sites were likely to pass on malware of some sort.
I've safely used the site for some time, as have others here. I visit using a browser with no ad blocking add-ons so I can see what's there. I never encountered the behavior described above. My browser hasn't been hijacked, there have been no pop ups, license agreements or other odd behavior. My security software has been quiet. WinPatrol in particular is very good at catching any attempts to change browser settings.

uStart is based in France - if you visit their FAQ and other places on the site and visit their Facebook page, most everything is in French with (usually) an English translation. In other words, the people who run the site do not have English as their first language. I normally don't consider English usage as an issue - there are many, many people who speak English as a second or third language on the internet - enough that I don't consider it a usable criteria.

I'm not sure what you're referring to about the colors - most of the start pages I've visited aren't all that slick or polished, tending more towards usability. Every time I visit uStart there's an image of a hot balloon on blue sky background.

With all due respect, until I have different, valid information that uStart is a hazard I'll be leaving it in the article. I very much appreciate you bringing it up, I'm sure others will benefit from your post. :)

by macodray on 14. October 2013 - 9:51  (111478)

Thank you for getting back on this and for the clarification. Having been 'infected' by spyware/malware on previous occasions, I guess I am extra cautious and it isn't easy for an amateur to know what is, and isn't, trustworthy out there, so your comments were very helpful.
I'll maybe have another look at uStart in view of your comments - at the moment I'm looking at igHome (I like it but find it somewhat unwieldy), Symbaloo and PortalPanel. The latter two give helpful information which I haven't yet found on igHome (but that could well be my own fault!).
Still feel very miffed by Google's decision - after all, out of all the iGoogle users out there, I've not heard of one who has written to say they are pleased that iGoogle is being discontinued, and I imagine that most, if not all, are as angry and upset as me. I think Google may well have shot themselves in the foot with their arrogant decision. Why should frustrated iGoogle users remain loyal to Google if Google completely ignores their wishes? After all, loyalty is a two way street.

by rhiannon on 15. October 2013 - 1:00  (111490)

Being extra cautious is a really good thing to be on the internet. :)
I haven't found a substitute that works me yet - I've set up a page on all the sites I've listed, and I check them regularly.

Google shutting down iGoogle and Google Reader has upset so many people.....it's a topic I see often and the frustration and anger is loud and clear, as is the confusion over the decision to shut these two services down.

by Pippy on 11. October 2013 - 16:10  (111421)

Going back to My Yahoo. Thanks Yahoo.

by ArchieGoodwin on 11. October 2013 - 14:03  (111413)

Very useful post, thank you.
I've been trying both igHome and uStart. Here's a bit of feedback.

igHome gives me more or less what I had with igoogle.
Pros : it seems to load faster. It looks very similar to igoogle. I customized it real fast.
Cons : Mostly, Gmail use.
- You can't read (or delete) a mail in the reader. Clicking on a mail entry opens your Gmail page.
- The Gmail module is not as easy to read as it was on Igoogle. I.e. both titles and mail sender names are in the same bold black font. Whereas on igoogle, senders names were in bold and mail titles in normal (not bold), which helped you spot important messages in a much faster, more intuitive way.

Other minor cons :
- All modules have the same length & width. Which is a bit silly when all you want is a search bar.
For instance, I've installed Wikipedia and IMDB search bars, and they float in large empty white blocks.
- The main weather module is from Accuweather. Their forecast isn't worse than the competition. But their art is. It looks like what I could draw, and I can't draw. In short, it's not nice to look at. Which I resent, as it's on my homepage. Other weather widgets are availble. But from what I can tell, none provide an at-a-glance 5-day forecast with simple and pleasant pictograms, in either French or English, in C°.

uStart :
Pros : The look&feel is much more attractive.
RSS feeds come with thumbnail pics. Major headlines appear over a pale blue background, creating a hierarchy that I find more intuitive.
All widgets and RSS feeds are in my home country language. (Namely French.)
As opposed to igHome, length & width of blocks adapt to content.
There is a quick & easy function that imports your content from iGoogle and Netvibes.
It's a tiny gadget, but I like that my background image changes between day & night (clear sky / starry black sky). And that is based on my home country clock.

Cons :
- The help page is very basic. No FAQ, no user forum. The uStart Facebook page seems to be down. So, if I really want help, I'm in for long hours searching web forums.
- There is no RSS / widget search tool, or I can't find it. igHome, on the other hand, has a good one.
- All RSS feeds that I can find are from my home country. This doesn't work for me. I want news from international titles (e.g. The Guardian in the UK, Google News US, etc). Can't find them.
- To log into my Facebook account, uStart wants to access basically everything. Not just my account and friends list, which is already a lot, but events, pictures, etc. Much worse : when I read the list of what it wanted to access, I clicked "cancel"... and it displayed a page saying that I enabled uStart's access to my FB account. I checked my FB apps and apparently, no access was granted. But that is really unpleasant user experience.

Other minor cons :
- The analog clock design is very poor-looking. Difficult to read, small and clunky. I won't use it.
- There seems to be a lot less widgets than on igHome (or iGoogle). This may be because only French-language widgets seem to be available to me.

Overall :
Although I like the look&feel of uStart, I'll probably stick with igHome because it gives me access to many more feeds & widgets that I use on an everyday basis. I also feel more comfident in using a page that has a proper widget search tool and a good help section.

Hope this helps.

by rhiannon on 12. October 2013 - 4:19  (111432)

Thanks for posting your observations, input is always welcome.

by bolero8888 on 10. October 2013 - 2:04  (111354)

I like the Netvibes. Especially after adding the Google search e services app. It includes Google news, Images, maps, docs, calendar.

The bookmarks stay with my Safari browser don't they?? I hope.

by rhiannon on 10. October 2013 - 18:07  (111390)

Your bookmarks should stay with your browser unless you delete them. If you have a lot of bookmarks you might want to back them up, just in case. Or store them online so you can access them anytime.

by Michael 2007 on 8. October 2013 - 13:32  (111316)

I don't seem to be able to switch off notifications from this post, so I've been advised to comment again and see if that works.

Thanks for your great website.

by rhiannon on 8. October 2013 - 19:08  (111323)

Thanks Michael, I hope that works. :)

by nara_82 on 7. October 2013 - 13:29  (111299)

I've been using portalpanel.com for few months and I found it very interesting and useful. Its simple home page allows you to bookmark your favourite websites and links in separate folders which makes it very neat and clean. Besides, you have control on some of your social networks, like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. You can also get the latest news you are interested in delivered right to you, by its RSS reader.
It works perfectly in different browsers and I would suggest to make it your homepage and enjoy its simplicity.

PS I actually quite liked their slogan: "One Page to Rule Them All". It seems to be very true.

by simonchau on 7. October 2013 - 11:46  (111295)

I really appreciate the list as google is shutting down its igoogle so everyone is looking for a good alternative of igoogle so currently I am using startme and found that it’s really good and completely ad free here is link http://www.startme.com so have a look and let me know it is good or not? From my point of view its really good because you can save everything in this startup page like igoogle.

by Oscarito on 6. October 2013 - 4:54  (111268)

Hi Everyone!

Well, after some three weeks of evalution/tests, guess I've made up my mind.
Ladies and gentlemen, the winner is:

"Protopage"

Very similar to "iGoogle" concerning to looking and funcionality (lets have in mind we're talking about it's eventual replacement...) and well balanced between the excessive minimalism of some options and the unpleasant complexity of others.
Also, I'd like to make mention to "Symbaloo", a diferent concept but very interesting...

PS: Soon there will be many other alternatives so that this is just a provisional decision.

Thanks!

by rhiannon on 6. October 2013 - 21:41  (111285)

Sounds like you've done some serious testing. :)
I'm glad you found one that works for you.

by Ronsulivan on 5. October 2013 - 20:50  (111265)

I highly Recommend PortalPanel.com. This new kid has got a new approach to this category. It’s a web-based online bookmarking tool that also features a Calendar app and a Library app and RSS reader. It’s a great alternative to iGoogle and Google Reader. PortalPanel stores, labels and helps organizing bookmarks so they can be retrieved for later use easily any time.

by blebsk on 5. October 2013 - 14:01  (111259)

Hi - it's been a while since I've been on, but thought I would add another possible iGoogle alternative.

I don't use these homepages myself, but a lot of my customers do, so I have been asked to recommend some. I used this excellent review as a starting point, but found one that isn't listed, but looks like it could be a contenter:

Startific
startific.com

I have added it to my recommendation for my clients, and am actually trying it out myself.

Blebsk

by rhiannon on 5. October 2013 - 17:33  (111262)

Thanks for the suggestion. Let me know what you think about it. :)

by Overantiquated on 1. October 2013 - 21:15  (111153)

I tested igHome..tooo slow and really didn't like the looks. then I saw the post for Ustart.org within seconds I had all my Igoogle feeds and settings imported and installed..am very happy. I hope it sticks. thanks for the postings.

by BobbieJ on 3. October 2013 - 16:13  (111206)

Overantiquated: Thank you - thank you - thank you!! Took your recommendation for Ustart.org. So far, loving it.

by rhiannon on 2. October 2013 - 4:19  (111162)

That's great to hear. :)

by GSPVX on 25. September 2013 - 6:30  (110987)

Thank you for these recommendations, Rhiannon.
I have been using iGoogle for as long as I can remember, and have a home page set up that provides all I need and has tabs for business or personal info and feeds. It all works beautifully.
I have been testing many alternatives and now have a multiple home page set up that opens iGoogle, NetVibes, igHome Protopage and uStart as 5 tabs.

Most widgets / gadgets on my page are news & sports feeds, bookmarks and links to sites I use daily.

I'm leaning towards igHome as it has a look & feel most similar to iGoogle, but the maps and weather widgets are clunky.
Protopage has a whacking great advertising banner that costs $2.50 a month to get rid of, and its Google maps can not show traffic (crucial in Sydney to decide which of several routes to take to drive home). Nor can I seem to find Google news on Protopage.
NetVibes has the best weather app (but still not as good as Google's) and uStart has no Google maps/traffic and is great for the weather, but only if you live in Paris France!

So, as a combination they all work to replicate my iGoogle set up, but individually not one of them is as comprehensive as iGoogle.

Just my 2 cents worth. Have a great day!