Search toolbars are toolbars that can be added to some web browsers to enhance and simplify web searches. In addition to the usual button linking to the author's home page and the familiar box in which to enter a search query, most toolbars also offer numerous other links to many sites and applications from buttons visible on the toolbars. Search toolbars offer the added convenience to immediate access to a certain search engine, even if that engine is not your default search engine.
Search engines like Yahoo and Google offer their own toolbars for use in browsers. A few companies like Conduit offer an opportunity for any company to have their logo branded on a search toolbar, along with their own custom buttons and applications for use with Internet Explorer or Firefox. Everyone has opinions on what toolbars and search engines they prefer. Some browsers offer limited built-in search toolbars. The toolbars listed here do not come standard in any browser, but are available from authors' websites for download/installation into Internet Explorer and Firefox.
Yahoo! search toolbar
Get It: Download Yahoo toolbar
The Yahoo! search toolbar is my top pick for stability, reliability, customization, and support. Though it is a fully-integrated solution for those with Yahoo! email accounts, the Yahoo! search toolbar has something to offer everyone.
One-click access to local weather, news, sports, etc. One-click access to your Yahoo mail account(s), allows users to choose any or all other offered add-on buttons giving one-click access to sites like ebay, Facebook, Twitter, and many more. Instant access to all the Yahoo! services such as Yahoo! Answers and My Yahoo! for those with a Yahoo! email account. Has the ability to store bookmarks in the Yahoo! profile which lets users access their saved bookmarks from any machine on which they sign into their Yahoo! account. Visually appealing.
One look: Toolbar remains standard gray, against desires of Mozilla Firefox users who may choose to change backgrounds of their web browser. Everything in the Yahoo! toolbar screams Yahoo! and in order to use the full features of this search toolbar, one must have a Yahoo! account.
Low security risk. Stable. Will use Yahoo search engine. Allows users to choose whether or not to change browser search settings. No spyware/adware.
Google search toolbar
Get It: Download Google toolbar
The Google toolbar is a top choice for users who prefer the Google search engine.
Offers access to Gmail, Google services such as Google Reader, and links to services like the Google news. Includes optional enhanced features such as a sidebar. All Google services are one click away.
The autofill feature is a nice touch but I had issues when using such as the text "floating" on the screen after using autofill. This feature is also a serious privacy concern for most users. Toolbar options, buttons, settings, etc. are limited only to Google services with no further customizations. Communicates often with the web, even when not being used. Installs by default the Google Search box, which is a desktop search engine appearing as a button next to the Windows Start menu.
Low security risk. Google default search engine. No spyware/adware.
Ask search toolbar
Get It: Download Ask toolbar
The free Ask.com search toolbar offers convenient search using the Ask.com search engine.
Available buttons on the toolbar interface open into menus. Though limited, the Ask free search toolbar is a nice addition for those who enjoy variety in their web browser. Quick access to weather news, and social networking. Fast searches. Easy.
Most features of the Ask toolbar are not very remarkable. Too limited for customization. Some security applications intercept installation of Ask search toolbar and report it as a risk: Spyware. This toolbar is often installed as an optional toolbar packaged with many freeware titles today.
Minor security risk. Triggers many security applications as spyware/adware. Ask.com default search engine.
Bing search toolbar
Get It: Download Bing Toolbar
Allows users access to their Microsoft Hotmail account. This toolbar has a very pleasing flow to its appearance and if judging toolbars on looks alone, this one would most likely win the contest. The Bing search toolbar contains the usual offering of weather and an autofill option similar to that offered with the Google search toolbar. In addition the Bing search toolbar boasts built-in pop-up blocking and surf protection! It has some customizations available and users can choose a theme color for their Bing search toolbar.
Very limited options. Slows browser opening/closing.
Low security risk. Uses Bing.com search engine. No spyware/adware.
Have Your Say
Let's go web surfing! What search toolbar do you use? How many do you/have you used? What's your favorite? What features do/would you like to see in search toolbars? Questions about a free search toolbar? Suggestions or comments for improving this article content? Join in and participate by commenting below!
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