I’ve never been very fond of toolbars and other web browser add-ons, basically because the services they’re supposed to offer don’t make up for the amount of resources and space they use. But this toolbar has the Google trademark on it and that encouraged me to test it. If it’s Google, it can’t be that bad.
No sooner said than done. A two minute installation process and you’re ready to go with your brand-new browser companion. At first sight, Google Toolbar looks similar to other add-ons but a deeper look reveals quite interesting functions. Also, the toolbar allows a high level of customization, so you can really choose which buttons to show and which to hide. This is something you’ll be thankful for, especially if you care about the number of free pixels on your screen.
The variety of featured tools, displayed by Google Toolbar as colorful buttons, link mainly to Google based services, such as Gmail, Pagerank data, Google Docs, Google Images or Google Maps. There is also a resizable search box to use Google right from the toolbar, which can be integrated with the search field already provided by Firefox. Also, you may add special buttons through the toolbar’s configuration options, linking to shopping websites, weather forecast, latest news and many other online services. Basically, you can build your personal version of Google Toolbar by adding the buttons you use the most.
So, is Google Toolbar only a bunch of buttons? Certainly not. The application also includes some very interesting utilities, just a mouse-click away: a spellchecker with support for several languages, an autofill tool to quickly complete online forms, a bookmark system to access your favourite sites from anywhere and a special security feature that will warn you if you’re being threatened by a phishing website. Google Toolbar also helps you manage your favourite RSS feeds (surprisingly compatible with Google Homepage but not Google Reader) and even translates web texts for you, although the results, as in any other automatic translator, are far from perfect.
I would definitely recommend Google Toolbar even for non toolbar lovers, as it provides you with direct access to several Google services and some other interesting tools, and it can be easily adapted to your liking. I guess this time the space taken by the toolbar does make up for it.