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

aripper; I didn't see passwords mentioned in any of the sites, I'm thinking the security to store passwords isn't really workable for news aggregators though I could be wrong on that.I'm not clear on which passwords you want to import - if you're wanting to import websites and passwords I can suggest lastpass.com.
aripper; To the best of my knowledge, igHome and Symbaloo will import bookmarks from Google bookmarks or Google Chrome. igHome and Symbaloo list that in their descriptions. Protopage has a bookmark feature but as far as I can tell it doesn't import anything, you add frequently visited sites into the bookmark widget one at a time.

I've been playing with uStart.org. It's also a nice alternative... highly customizable, relatively easy to configure, and easy to use.

uStart.org is way too much British for me. I was looking for something US based.

lowndesw; Why thank you, that made my day. :) I don't think anyone other than Google knows why they are shutting down iGoogle and Google Reader. It makes no sense to those of us who enjoy using those services. I haven't come across any official explanation from them. I've seen quite a bit of speculation on various sites so we aren't the only ones wondering.

THANK YOU, Rhiannon!! WELL DONE. I have been looking, waiting, wondering about what to do about November 1. Why did Google decide to ditch igoogle?? I thought maybe they were going to come out with a bigger and better version, or a slimmed down likeness, not just drop it and walk away. Not very good PR I'd think. I have been using it from the very beginning, enjoyed the artwork on special days, found it very convenient. It had to be a very big billboard for the Google name and business.

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