Search Toolbars & Utilities

There are a variety of ways you can search and navigate the web without first going directly to a search engine. Search toolbars provide direct access to search engines from within your browser, while meta search utilities make it easy to search more than one search engine at the same time. Search companions often help you “discover” information as you browse pages on the web.

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Search Toolbars From Major Search Engines
Other Search ToolbarsMeta Search Utilities
Search CompanionsArticles About Search Toolbars
Removing Adware/Spyware

Search Toolbars From Major Search Engines

AltaVista Toolbar

Provides access to AltaVista web, news and multimedia search, page translation, term highlighting and pop-up blocking. (Review: AltaVista Introduces Search Toolbar, Aug. 18, 2003)

Ask Jeeves Toolbar

In addition to searching, the Jeeves toolbar lets you limit your search to news, dictionary, stock market, weather, events, maps, and the Ask Jeeves Kids web sites.

Dogpile Search Toolbar

Consolidates a variety of useful web and specialized searches into a single, easy to use interface. (Review: Dogpile’s Toolbar Fetches More than Search Engine Results, June 25, 2003)

Google Deskbar

Provides the ability to search with Google from the taskbar within Windows. In other words, you can search without having to be in your browser.

Google Toolbar

Special toolbar for Internet Explorer users that puts a Google search box right into your browser. In addition, you can use it to see the “PageRank” popularity score of any page you are viewing, search within the particular site you are viewing, see a previous of “cached” copy of any dead pages, find pages similar to the one you are viewing, block pop-ups and more. It loads within seconds and is well worth adding to your browser. Using the toolbar with PageRank enabled sends some information back to Google. If that concerns you, choose the “Install Without Advanced Features” option. Highly-recommended. (Review: Google Releases Updated Search Toolbar, June 30, 2003)

HotBot Quick Search Deskbar

Provides instant access to HotBot and is jam-packed with other useful tools and goodies as well. (Review: HotBot’s Swiss Army Knife Deskbar, June 24, 2003)

MSN Toolbar

Provides the ability to search the web using MSN Search, perform site specific searches, term highlighting and pop-up blocking.

Teoma Search Bar

Provides direct access to Teoma’s search results, offers search term highlighting on the pages you visit, allows access to an online dictionary and provides the ability to email any web page you view. (Review: Teoma Offers Free Search Toolbar, June 25, 2002)

Yahoo Companion

Search Yahoo, access Yahoo Mail, check on stocks and more via a toolbar within your browser.

Other Search Toolbars

Advanced Searchbar

Provides access to 60 search engines, plus push button access to disk utilities, webpage translation, a calculator and other features. Be forewarned: it’s a 1MB download.


Alexa provides access to Google search results plus does a wonderful job of suggesting interesting sites based on the ones you are visiting — and much more.

CNET SearchBar

This customizable toolbar is made exclusively for searching on CNET sites including,, and for technology news, and as a shopping search tool for products from anywhere on the Web.

Copernic Meta Toolbar

Lets you meta search the web via a toolbar integrated into your browser.

Dave’s Quick Search Taskbar Toolbar Deskbar

Like the Google Toolbar, this gives you access to Google without having to first visit the Google web site. Unlike the Google Toolbar, it has a number of other options built into it, such as the ability to query other search engines such as AllTheWeb and Teoma, as well as a range of specialty search services. This can be done using a menu-system or by special prefix codes in front of your query. The toolbar also has a built-in calculator, currency converter, translation tool and other features. This installs into your Windows taskbar, rather than into your browser. It also requires a 400K download.


GGSearch is designed to provide toolbar access to the many specialized searches offered by Google, including Google groups posts, images, links, Uncle Sam, linux, news, BSD, Microsoft, Google answers, stocks, froogle, some Google labs tools, and others.

Groowe Toolbar

Here’s a toolbar that gives you easy access to searching Google and many other search engines, as well. With a click, you can query Yahoo, Teoma, AllTheWeb, AltaVista, MSN Search and others. In addition, it makes it easy to perform specialized searches with many of the search engines it supports. Get images back from AllTheWeb, or search only against Yahoo’s human directory, or get news results back from AltaVista. It’s a quick download and highly-recommended.


Got Netscape but you want the Google Toolbar, which is only for Internet Explorer? Then check out the volunteer-created Googlebar for Netscape.


This simple utility allows you to highlight any word or words on a web page, then click to do a Google search, or to get dictionary or thesaurus definitions. Fast 100K download.

Macintosh SearchGoogle.service

A simple background service to allow you to select text in (nearly) any application and press “Shift-Apple->” to launch a Google search for that text.

metaEureka A-Toolbar

Lets you get results from metaEureka, a meta search engine that hits several major web-wide search engines. Alternatively, you can also choose to search against specific search engines, as well. Beyond searching, you can use the toolbar to prescreen your email for spam, translate words into different languages, do dictionary lookups, check the time in various countries, convert currencies and much more. You can also get information about a particular URL, count links to that URL from various search engines, do a basic position check and get a keyword density report for a particular page (single words only, not phrases). Among network tools is the ability to telnet, ping, traceroute, do DNS and WHOIS lookups.

Trellian Toolbar

The Trellian toolbar allows you to search multiple engines, returning up to nine result pages for each engine. It also offers some web site development and search engine optimization tools, such as a PPC search tab that provides easy search of the major pay per click engines.


Like Groowe, UltraBar gives you easy access to multiple search engines plus allows you to add your own. It also provides many of the features you’ll find in the Google Toolbar, such as term highlighting and jumping to keyword buttons. Highly-recommended. (Review: Beyond the Google Toolbar, July 15, 2002)

Vivisimo Toolbar / MiniBar

Lets you tap into Vivisimo meta search results from your browser. The second URL lets you load a “mini” version of the toolbar, helpful for those who already have many other search toolbars installed.

Meta Search Utilities

Similar to metacrawlers, the meta search utilities below send your query to more than one search engine at the same time. But unlike online meta search engines, many of the software packages can also retrieve actual web pages, allowing you to sort results, perform more analysis, eliminate dead links, save searches and more.

Copernic Agent Basic

Copernic Agent is a meta search engine, invisible web explorer, online research assistant and extensive tool box, all combined into an elegant, easy to use toolbar. (Review: Copernic Agent: Jack of All Searches, July 23, 2003)

InfoGrid Internet Explorer Bar

Allows Internet Explorer users to change the search button from its default behavior of using MSN Search to instead meta searching at several major search engines via the InfoGrid site. Also provides access to news search services and other resources.

Apple Sherlock

If you have a Mac with a current OS, then you’ve got meta search and more built in. This page at Apple explains more.


Allows you to search multiple search engines from your desktop.


WebFerret lets you search across the web. The free version has banner ads, while the paid version does not.

Subject Search Spider

Metasearch utility that queries the selected set of search engines in over 35 languages. Has text highlighting and other features.

Search Companions & Discovery Tools

The search companions and navigation tools below are designed to help you find or discover information, often in non-traditional ways.


This software removes paid listings from search engine result pages, along with banner ads and pop-ups. Paid inclusion listings are not removed.

Annotate Net Radar

Similar to Alexa above, this browsing companion suggests content from its partners that is related to what you are viewing.


Grokker lets you “fly” through search results grouped into different topics. It can be a helpful way to easily maneuver yourself into the right results, when there’s more than one set of answers to your question.


First known as GuruNet, then Atomica, then revived in early 2003 as GuruNet once again! This tool lets you highlight words or Alt-Click on them in a document and then send the word to an online dictionary or thesaurus. (Review: GuruNet: A Handy Information Magnet, June 11, 2003)


HydraLinks is a simple utility that lets you manipulate and save search results to a customizable list, speeding up your searching and letting you easily share results with others. (Review: Speed Up Your Searching with HydraLinks, June 19, 2003

TouchGraph GoogleBrowser

Enter a URL, then see a pretty picture showing you interlinks between that URL and other sites based on Google’s “related” command (also called Similar Pages). However, don’t misinterpret this as an illustration of actual site interlinking. Pages related to a URL are not necessarily pages that link to that URL. Instead, they are simply pages that Google deems to be similar in terms of content.


This tool installs into your browser and then shows information related to the page you are viewing. It’s billed as “contextual search,” but it’s more a discovery tool along the lines of Alexa, above. In other words, you don’t search using it, but you may discover new sites related to those you like. It will suggest directory categories and actual web sites from the Open Directory that are deemed related to the page you are viewing. So, if you are listed in the Open Directory, you may show up in front of those using this tool. “Elite” listings get you a guaranteed placement — these come from being the top bidder with FindWhat. The tool also claims not to be spyware, but content owners may not be happy to have it suggesting other sites to their visitors. Similar criticisms have been levied against Alexa, in the past.

Articles About Search Toolbars

Toolbars: Trash or Treasures?
Online, Jan/Feb 2004

A guide to the many search toolbars now littering our desktops, looking at what’s offered, options and possible problems.

Designs on desktop search, Jan. 12, 2004

Now that Google’s jumped out of the browser and into the taskbar, Microsoft and Yahoo are thinking of doing the same.

Beyond Google: Narrow the Search
AP, Jan. 4, 2003,1282,61783,00.html

A look at tools that automatically categorize and sometimes even visually present search results. There’s nothing new about the concept. Northern Light did auto-categorization back in 1997, and AltaVista had a visualization tool in the same year, to name only some examples. They never caught on, but perhaps the new crop may have more luck — though even these “new” tools mentioned are all more than a year old.

Going Deeper than Google
Fortune, Dec. 16, 2003,15704,563090,00.html

Review of Grokker, which lets you “fly” through results found by Google and other search engines.

Monetizing Graphical Search, Dec. 15, 2003

Trying to shake people out of the 10 textual search results format, a new version of Grokker provides the ability to “fly” through results items of interest, while Vivisimo has released a new toolbar to let you access “clustered” search topics from its acclaimed meta search engine.

AdSubtract to snip paid search results
IDG, Dec. 8, 2003

AdSubtract removes paid listings from search results as well as blocks other types of ads.

On the Google Deskbar
The Register, Dec. 4, 2003

The Register finds that, much as it says it’s depressed to admit, the Google Deskbar is a good thing. Review of features and how changing habits from browser-based searching to taskbar searching worked for the writer.

The Google Deskbar
Pandia, Nov. 7, 2003

Pandia provides an overview of features in the new Google Deskbar, especially the ability to use keyboard shortcuts to search and reasons why you may want search outside your browser.

Google Plops Its Search on the Desktop, Nov. 6, 2003

Has comments from me about Google’s move from the browser and onto the desktop.

Google’s Popular Toolbar
New York Times, Oct. 30, 2003

Google’s Toolbar has a great pop-up blocking feature, but that also means pop-ups you want can go unnoticed. If you’re using it, remember that overriding the pop-up (easily done) may be the solution to a web access problem you may be having. And designers, as this article covers, take note that you may need to consider dumping the pop-ups.

Google And The Big Brother Nomination
The Search Engine Update, April 2, 2003

With “advanced features” on, the Google Toolbar sends information about the page you are viewing in order to update its PageRank meter. When you installed the Google Toolbar, this fact was highlighted and an alternative for those concerned with privacy issues was offered. Nevertheless, some people still may not have realized that the toolbar monitors page viewing in this way. This article examines accusations that the toolbar is “spyware.”

Google Toolbar Alternatives
Pointeronline, Jan. 24, 2003

Use Netscape? Here are tips on accessing search engines directly from the URL box.

Clearing Your Search History From Google And Other Search Engines
The Search Engine Report, Jan. 7, 2003

Ever gone to Google or another search engine using the Internet Explorer browser and noticed that some past searches you’ve performed were displayed below the search box? Don’t blame (or thank) the search engine. It’s your browser that’s keeping the record, and it’s one you may find yourself wishing to delete, from time to time. This article explores the procedures involved.

Search Tool & Utility Reviews
Within Search Engine Watch, this page has older reviews of software-based search tools that you may find interesting.

Removing Adware/Spyware

Readers sometimes ask how their “default” search engine got changed in Internet Explorer or why they are getting “pop-up” search results from a search engine they’ve never heard of.

The answer is that there may be some program installed on your computer, perhaps without you knowing it, that made these changes.

To correct this behavior, try running Ad-Aware on your system (it’s free) to see if there’s any “adware” present. Counterexploitation also has a good page listing some programs that might be causing your problems.

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