One-Up Google, YouTube With Tools From Hassle-Free PC

A couple months back I dredged up a few online tools and rounded up tips for using sites like Google more effectively. (Missed that? Read "Browser Tips & Tools.") This week I've got even more cool sites and online tools for you to try out.

DocJax: Document Search Engine

Savvy Google users know that it's possible to filter Google searches by document type. For example, if you append "filetype:PDF" to your search word or phrase, Google will serve up PDFs that match.

DocJax is a search engine built on that idea. Just type in your query and DocJax finds matching Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, and PDFs.

By default, the results page lumps together all four kinds of documents, but you can filter the results by clicking DOC, XLS, PPT, or PDF.

You can click the "Preview It" link below any document to open a fully interactive preview window. Naturally, there's a Download option as well.

If you'd rather not have to go to the DocJax site every time you want to run a search, just click Add Search Extension to add DocJax to your browser's toolbar search engines. How convenient is that!

This definitely beats Google's Filetype search, which limits you to one document type at a time and doesn't give you a preview option (or a one-click download option).

Google Image Ripper: Find Images Fast

Google is a great resource for finding images, but the way it presents results isn't exactly practical. Specifically, an image search returns a lengthy batch of thumbnails, each of which requires a click-through (or two) to see the full-size image.

Google Image Ripper bypasses the thumbnails, presenting you with all the matching images in a single Web page. It's a much more efficient way to search.

All you do is type in your word or phrase, then choose a desired size (from icon to huge), a type (news, face, clipart, etc.), and whether the results should include "nsfw" (not safe for work) images.

Click Rip Google and presto: The images appear, ready for whatever you plan to do with them. (Note that you can still click an image to load its source page, just like clicking a regular image-search thumbnail.)

Video 2 MP3: Download MP3 Audio From YouTube

Secret confession time: I'm a fan of Brit-pop superstar Lily Allen. (Hey, I also like Green Day and the Stones. Don't judge me.)

Recently, Allen performed a nifty acoustic cover of Britney Spears's "Womanizer." Alas, it's not available on iTunes, AmazonMP3, or any other online stores I'm aware of. The only place to hear the track is YouTube.

That doesn't suit my mobile, iPhone-driven lifestyle. So until Lily's people deem fit to let me buy the track, I'm "borrowing" it from YouTube. The site that makes this possible? Video 2 MP3, which converts any video into an MP3.

Just copy and paste the URL from the video's YouTube page and click Convert. Then be prepared to wait a few minutes. Resist the urge to click that big, inviting Download button while you're waiting--it's just part of an ad for a different product.

When Video 2 MP3 is done converting, you'll see a link to the file. Right-click it and choose the appropriate "download" option for your browser. Then add the MP3 to iTunes or your music manager of choice.

Note to Firefox users: There's a Video 2 MP3 Firefox extension that adds a download link to each YouTube video page, thus saving you the step of copying and pasting the URL.

KeepVid, VideoDownloader: Save YouTube Clips for Your iPod

Want to download YouTube vids and convert them to an iPod-friendly format? There are lots of ways, though YouTube appears to be cracking down on them. (I'm not sure I understand why. After all, iPhone users can already stream YouTube content, as can anyone with a browser and an Internet connection. Where's the harm in allowing offline viewing?)

Anyway, I'm partial to KeepVid and VideoDownloader, which are virtually identical in form and function: Copy the URL of the YouTube vid you want, paste it into the appropriate field on either site, and then click Download.

In an instant you'll get links for both FLV and MP4 versions of the video. Right-click the latter and choose Save Link As (or Save Target As if you use Internet Explorer). The video should take no more than a few minutes to download to your PC. From there it's a simple matter to import it into iTunes.

In the event that Google gets really serious about shutting down (or at least disabling) these services, you can always try a software solution like Replay Media Catcher, a personal favorite.

Rick Broida writes PC World's Hassle-Free PC blog. Sign up to have Rick's newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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