6 Great Alternatives to iGoogle

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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

I haven't found a start page that works for me either. :( I came across this page http://backstit.ch/ a few days ago. I'll check into it further but it looks interesting. It's not a traditional start page but some might find it useful. :)

When it was announced iGoogle was retiring I immediately looked for a similar site. I used Netvibes for several months and found it was clumsy and cumbersome to use. Last week I tried Protopage. I love it! Easy to configure and navigate the widgets, RRR feeds, bookmarks, etc. Mobile app is great too.

You might want to check out uStart.org, it was recommended in the comments by joe.bennett. I'll be adding it to the main article soon. :)

If Google does actually go ahead and remove iGoogle , a much loved product by many I, for one, will attempt to never again use any Google product.

iGoogle will no longer be available after November 1st, 2013. The mobile version was retired July 31, 2012. More here: What's happening to iGoogle?

I have made Protopage my Start Page. But, I want to change my mind and use IG. How do I delete Protopage? Is it just a tab in Firefox? And IG would be another tab? However, I'd like to get rid of Protopage altogether.

NEVERMIND! I figured it out.

As far as I know all the start pages listed are web sites, there are no programs you can delete. You can go to any of the sites by clicking on their links in the above article. I'm not sure what you mean by 'made Protopage your start page'. Did you set it as your home page in your browser settings? This article tells you how to change your home page in most of the major browsers: How to change my browsers home page. You can use it to check if you've set Protopage as your home page. You can set any page to become a home page, leave it blank, or use a bookmark to go to a site you want to use as a home page.

I was just composing a post in reply to Rosie's but got thoroughly distracted by the details as always :-)

The thing is that just changing your Start Page/Home Page doesn't actually delete your Protopage, it's still out there on the internet which to me is a bit untidy and too much of a loose end ...

However, I had a good look around on my own Protopage and I can find nothing straightforward for deleting the whole page, or for closing the account, which sadly is the case with a lot of things like this.

If it were me I would remove everything from the Protopage first, and then use the "Contact Us" link at top-right to ask that the account be closed and the page deleted. I'd also go into my email account and revoke any access permissions that I'd granted for email widgets or calendar widgets or whatever.

An alternative I've found practical is not using a start page at all, but replacing it with customized start tabs. There are a quite a few alternatives out there for various browsers.

E.g. StartHQ (http://starthq.com)- for people that use a lot of web apps and want power and control over them, or Start!(search for "start chrome extension)- for you want quick access to bookmarks and rss feeds.

I find all of these full of stuff I don't need and overly cluttered. Used to use Symbaloo but got annoyed by some major changes and downtime foisted on users. My focus is on bookmarks, so I like start.io and, for a bit more eye-candy, mylinkcloud.com which is flashier but not quite as solid.

I used Netvibes for years and was frustrated off and on by random breakage of an app or feed. A few months back, multiple apps just stopped working and several of my rss were suddenly erased. I could have rebuilt things, but decided the lack of stability was too great. I now alternate between Protopage and igHome. Both have their advantages.

I've been using a speed dial type of interface in my browsers, and bookmarks in folders on the bookmarks bar that open all when clicked. :)

Very timely and useful list, Rhiannon. Thanks! I have been using Protopage for about a year and it is nice, though a bit clunky. There is a feature where you can scrape a webpage and specify X and Y coordinates so you can see just the part of the webpage you want. I did this to see the weather radar for my area. Great, right? Well, the radar map moved every so often and I had to fuss with the settings. In the last few months, it has been broken and I haven't got around to deleting it.

After I read your article, I tried out some of the suggestions. Symbaloo looked really nice and I started in building my page. Unfortunately, it looks like you cannot tell if you have unread articles from the tile. I tried to go to support to suggest the change. I was surprised to find their suggestion system would not accept entries and there was no other way to contact support. This is a non-starter for me. On to the next one.

I was less than wowed by the others but I will try uStart. Thanks to those who suggested it above.

I haven't found one that I've settled on using all the time. I think I'm still looking for that one alternative that really works for me. :)

I'm finding this too!

I've spent a while playing with igHome, I quite like it... everything on it can be be pretty much added or deleted as you please which is good, and it has a very pleasing absence of in-your-face integration with social media, although it seems that this is there for those who want it.
It has quite a handy Google-style toolbar at the top, a definite plus there being that you can configure the buttons for whatever shortcuts you want by just entering a URL in preferences.

Downsides - the actual appearance, although not at all unpleasant, isn't very customisable - you can change the size of the gadgets in settings (though zooming the page achieves that globally) but the width appears to be something you're stuck with, and you have the same iGoogle style options of background colours or images, along with (as far as I could tell) pretty much all the same gadgets to choose from. Some of which don't work, which is as promised just like iGoogle :-D

On the other hand I've spent about an hour playing around with Protopage this evening, and I have to say I like it a lot more now than I did when I started. Again there's a very satisfying ability to clear all traces of twitter and fb etc from the page.

The appearance and layout is a lot more customisable than igHome ... I especially like that you can give each gadget its own colouring and to some extent resize them as well, for example I can have my google calendar gadget stretched out to cover quite a large area which makes it a lot more readable. This isn't perfect though - for instance the analogue clock which is quite nice can't be resized to look good. The smallest size of the gadget is still twice as big as the clock itself so the end result is a bit messy and unattractive. It seems that 1/3 of page width is the minimum for a gadget though I might have missed a setting somewhere. The collapse/expand button is handy.

Also a definite oversight to my mind is the lack of any option to change fonts, and it would nice to have a choice of rounded corners on the gadgets.

The option for public/private - which apparently you can apply separately to different components - is intriguing though I'm not sure I'd ever find a use for it, and I do like the default notepad gadget which appears to sync online as well. Very handy.

A very nice feature is the mouseover bubble on news stories (would be great to have that on the Google Calendar gadget too) and the inclusion of a mini-player for podcasts is very very nice, although I would like to be able to drag that around the window. The search bar is quite attractive with the ability to add/remove engines including custom ones.

Lastly for now, there seems to be a pretty decent selection of community-developed gadgets which I've not looked properly through yet.

Oops this started off as a quick reply, but it turned into a bit of an essay sorry :-) I'm undecided... igHome is easy on the eye but I'm very drawn to Protopage's configurabilty and podcast player and that apparently syncing notepad. I might just keep both, or maybe neither ... it's ages now since I used iGoogle and I can't say it's left a huge hole in my internet day.

Also to be fair, anything that I found to be absent or not working might well be down to my own oversight or security add ons in my browser.

YES, thank you! I've been wondering what I was going to do come November since I use iGoogle all day, every day. After testing out several of the options mentioned here & in the comments, I settled on igHome. The only drawback is that I can't get Google Tasks to work on it, but other than that, it's a pretty seamless transition from iGoogle. Thanks again!

Hmmm. I tried that but it doesn't format properly due to having multiple task lists under one account. Perhaps that's also why the Google Tasks gadget for igHome isn't working for me.

I'm not sure what you mean about not formatting properly. I don't use Tasks a lot myself but I added an extra list just now and it seems fine, there's a button at the bottom right to switch between lists and they seem to be displaying properly...

I did a couple of screenshots, I can't seem to upload them here but you can see them in dropbox -

https://www.dropbox.com/s/a3q93d39obpwm76/tasks%20sidepanel%2001.png

https://www.dropbox.com/s/xzau9zy316qb35x/tasks%20sidepanel%2002.png

Hope you manage to find a satisfactory solution anyway, and apologies Rhiannon for taking your thread a bit off-topic.

Got it! I was using Canvas view for tasks, so that was the problem. Thanks so much. Now my igHome page is perfect. Thanks again to you & Rhiannon!

Great collection Rhiannon, I've been looking around for an iGoogle replacement so thank you for all the suggestions. Protopage and Ig are my favourites I think though I've bookmarked them all for a proper look later.

For something simple and ready-to-go I'd just like to mention the Maxthon homepage which I only discovered fairly recently while casting around for an alternative browser. It isn't very configurable but it's pretty handy as a basic homepage.

Thanks also for the uStart suggestion, although LastPass flags it as an insecure log in.

sicknero; Thanks for the tip about the Maxthon home page. The other thing I've noted in my wandering is how many ISP's and other services have their own home pages. I haven't checked into many of them - I ran across ones for Wildblue and Earthlink. I'm sure there are more.

MANY thanks Joe..
I have tried many of the available options, without being very satisfied... until I read your comment on uStart.org.

All I can say is I LOVE IT! uStart is the simplest of all to use, easy on the eye and plenty of options. In fact (Gasp!) I far prefer it to iGoogle :)

Glad to help out. :)

Hi Rhiannon,

Thanks very much for those. I had a quick look at a few iGoogle replacements back when its closure was first announced, but couldn't find anything I liked so put it on a backburner.

I wasn't aware of igHome, however, and having just easily set up and customised it, I have to say that for my purposes it seems just perfect. I particularly like the way you can customise the news gadgets to show only headlines or also description and images, adjust the font size, and the height of the gadgets by pixels. Thanks so much.

On a related note, Feedly is still looking like a terrific Google Reader replacement, and is getting even better. They're responding to their new users by swiftly adding many of the options requested.

Michael 2007; igHome was suggested by one of our users. Most of the news aggregators are have been gearing up, trying to deal with the incoming users. I'm interested to see how it all shakes out. :)

It was a great suggestion, Rhiannon.

I really like the customisation options I mentioned before, and also the bold font option. I've also customised the Black Bar Links by taking out a few I don't often use, and adding a few of my favourite websites, (including this one, of course), so now I'm all set.

iGoogle replacement problem solved. Thanks again.

Michael 2007; I'm glad to hear you're all set. =)

Good stuff Rhiannon. But what I missed most in your "best 6" detail was, can the Google bookmarks and passwords be imported into them (?) or if indeed they can save passwords or will "Password Box" (or other?)work with them.

That qualifies as pretty important to me and probably many other readers.

Hope you can find the time to report back... Regards

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