For as long as I can remember, iGoogle has been my home page. I’ve used it for everything from monitoring my favorite blogs and news sites to tracking the number of days since I last added salt to my water softener.
So it came as something of a shock to read that iGoogle is going away on November 1, 2013. That’s only 16 months from now, barely enough time to vet a replacement.
I kid, I kid — that’s more than enough time. The question is, where should you hang your home-page hat? What should be the first thing that appears when you open your browser? I’ve got three suggestions:
Like to scan news headlines? Then you can’t go wrong with MSN or Yahoo, which bring you the latest stories followed by sections like sports, entertainment, local news, and money.
You don’t need an account with either service to take advantage of their portals, though signing up for one nets you an extra email address and, in the case of Yahoo, some customization options for your home page (including what content appears and where).
Personally, I think Yahoo is the better of the two pages, but you’ll definitely want to browse both to see which one suits you best.
This old-school Web portal has reinvented itself as a Web-analytics tool for businesses, but it still offers a consumer-friendly custom dashboard where you can monitor all the media that’s important to you: news, email, tweets, tasks, status updates, and so on.
Where NetVibes excels is in letting you pick the “apps” (i.e. widgets) you want to include, then organizing them to your liking. For example, you can choose the number of columns you want for your dashboard and how you want them arranged.
There’s also a Reader mode that’s great if you add a lot of RSS feeds. All told, NetVibes probably comes closest to replacing the look and feel of iGoogle.
Nothing? If you’re not a news junkie and don’t tend to look at RSS feeds and the like, you might just prefer to leave your browser without a traditional home page.
To that end, all the major browsers now have the option of starting you with a “blank” tab, one that doesn’t open a particular page but does show thumbnails of your most visited/most popular sites.
You can also automatically open multiple sites in multiple tabs, which is helpful if you like to start each browsing session with, say, PC World, Facebook, and a favorite blog. Just open the tabs you want to reappear, then venture into the settings and choose “use current” for your home page. (The latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer all let you load multiple pages at startup.)
Those are, of course, just three options out of many. If you’ve found another portal, home-page, or browser-startup option you like better, tell me about it in the comments.
Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at firstname.lastname@example.org, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community Forums. Sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.