Browser Toolbar Plug-Ins
Dogpile Search Toolbar
Dogpile's toolbar has almost everything a searcher could ask for, wrapped in cutesy canine metaphors (like the search button labeled 'Fetch'). Run Web searches, White and Yellow Pages queries, and Merriam-Webster's dictionary, thesaurus, and antonym finder lookups from your toolbar. The built-in pop-up blocker works well, and we like being able to highlight search terms on the page we're visiting. News headlines, which scroll across the toolbar by default, can be distracting, but turning off this feature from the Toolbar Settings menu is easy.
AltaVista's Web search engine may not be as popular as Google's, but AltaVista's translation service, Babelfish, is second to none. If you need to know what's on some German message board, or if you're trying to decipher a love note from your Mediterranean sweetheart, you can instantly translate words, phrases, or the currently open Web page from any of eight languages into English, using AltaVista's browser plug-in. The toolbar also lets you search AltaVista; highlights search terms in results pages; calculates currency and metric-to-U.S.-unit conversions; looks up area codes, zip codes, and weather reports; and blocks pop-up ads.
Google's newest search tool, which plugs right into the Windows desktop, allows you to search Google's directories without opening a browser. Search results appear in a Deskbar-controlled pop-up window that you can quickly slide out of the way when you don't need it. Though the Deskbar lacks some features of the standard Google toolbar (it doesn't include a pop-up blocker, for instance), the convenience of browserless searching makes this latest addition to the Google pantheon well worth trying.