7.2 Searching the Web from Internet Explorer
Most people spend half their time on the Web searching for stuff they want to read, watch, play, or download. Here're a few tips to help you search smarter .
7.2.1 The Google Toolbar
If you use Google 400 times a day, you're wasting valuable time by surfing to Google's home page every time you want to search. Improve your efficiency 80-fold by bringing the Web's most popular search engine to you: install a Google toolbar in Internet Explorer. The super-handy add-on lets you run a Google search no matter where you are on the Web (Figure 7-7).
Note: The Google toolbar works only with Internet Explorer. If you use Mozilla, Netscape, or Firefox, try the Googlebar, described on Section 7.6.2.
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Figure 7-7. You get all the power of Google, packed into this tiny toolbar. Using it is the single best thing you can do to improve your surfing experience.
To add the Google toolbar to your browser, go to http://toolbar.google.com and click the "Download Google Toolbar" button. The toolbar installs itself in Internet Explorer. When you want to do a search, just type your keywords in the search box and press Enter. Google displays the results in your open browser window as if you did the search at http://www.google.com.
That's not the only thing the Google Toolbar can do. Here are just a few of the other ways it can make your surfing easier:
Kill pop-ups . If you can't stand the pop-up ads that seem to be everywhere on the Web, the Google Toolbar can save you the annoyance ‚ it automatically nips them in the bud. To allow pop-ups on a specific site, or all the time, click the popup button. (For more about stopping pop-ups, see Section 6.2.1.)
Fill in forms . Click the AutoFill button to have the Google Toolbar fill in online forms for you, providing information such as your name , address, and email address. (You, of course, have to fill in the information one time, and after that, the Google toolbar remembers.)
Search the site you're visiting . Not all Web sites offer a way to search their own pages ‚ and those that do often don't work very well. For better results, you can use the Google Toolbar to search the Web site you're viewing; simply click the "Search this Site" button.
Note: For more a full rundown on the Google toolbar and deskbar ( next hint) ‚ and everything else Google ‚ check out Google: The Missing Manual .
7.2.2 The Google Deskbar (Not just for Internet Explorer)
Using the Google toolbar can speed up your searching dramatically. But there's another shortcut you can take to Google ‚ and it doesn't even require you to have a browser open (though you do have to be connected to the Internet). Try the Google deskbar , which lets you search Google from the Windows XP taskbar along the bottom of your screen and then view your results in a special window (Figure 7-8). It looks weird at first, but it can be surprisingly useful.
You can download Google's deskbar for free from http://toolbar.google.com/deskbar. It automatically installs itself as a toolbar on the Windows XP taskbar, but you have to turn it on by right-clicking the taskbar and choosing Toolbars Google Deskbar.
Note: To make the search box bigger or smaller, drag the small vertical bar on the left edge of the search box as far left or right as you want to go.
The Google deskbar is particularly handy when you're in a program like Microsoft Word and you need to look up something on the Web. Rather than switch to (or open) your browser, just press Ctrl+Alt+G to move your cursor to the deskbar search box and run Google from there.
You can also use the Google deskbar to do specialized searches. For example, type your search terms, and then press Ctrl+N when you want to search only news sites. To search for images, press Ctrl+I, or to search for dictionary definitions Ctrl+D. (Google finds the definitions in an online dictionary.)
Tip: You can find additional features of the deskbar by pressing the little arrow button at the far right edge. A menu pops open, with a slew of choices, including an entry for Options, which opens a dialog box that lets you customize the deskbar.
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Figure 7-8. The Google deskbar is a search box that sits on your taskbar. When you type in your search terms and press Enter, your search results pop up in a mini-browser, rather than in your browser. You can surf and search inside the mini-window, or you can display the results in your browser by clicking the arrow in the upper-left corner.
7.2.3 Searching from the Address Bar
Internet Explorer's address bar ‚ the place where you type in URLs you want to visit ‚ also serves as a search box. If you type in search terms instead of a Web address, Explorer takes you to the MSN search site and shows you a list of relevant results. It's a nifty trick.
But if MSN is not your search engine of choice, you change the underlying search service with a tool called TweakUI. (For details about TweakUI, see Section 2.1.1.)
Note: If you've installed the Google toolbar, you can make Google your underlying search engine without TweakUI. On the Google toolbar, click the Options button (or, on the right edge, choose Google Options) to open the Options dialog box. Click the More tab, and under Search Options, choose "Use Google as my default search engine in Internet Explorer." Click OK.
Here's the TweakUI method:
Download and install TweakUI from http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/downloads/powertoys.asp. If you've already installed TweakUI, skip to the next step .
Installation is straightforward; there's nothing you need to do beyond following the instructions.
Choose Start All Programs Power Toys for Windows XP TweakUI for Windows XP .
TweakUI opens. If you've already got a TweakUI icon on your desktop, you can double-click it to run it instead.
| GEM IN THE ROUGH |
The Google Calculator
When you need a calculator on the fly, don't waste your time hunting for Window XP's version (which is buried on the Start menu). Instead, jump to Google's toolbar (Section 7.2.1) or deskbar (Section 7.2.2) to do calculations for you. (You can also run calculations from Google's home page, though that's not as convenient .)
Type any calculation in a Google search box ‚ for example 9+5784, and then press Enter to have Google display the answer. Google can solve a wide variety of math problems, including basic arithmetic, complicated math (like trigonometry functions), and units of measure and conversions.
You don't even have to know math jargon to get answers; Google can interpret some plain English requests . For example, if you type feet in three meters , Google returns the answer three meters = 9.84251969 feet . But it doesn't understand all questions. For example, if you type how many inches in a meter? it gives you an answer. But it doesn't understand the more elaborate question, how many inches are there in a meter?
For a nice rundown of Google's calculator features ‚ which are amazingly sophisticated ‚ check out http://www.googleguide.com/calculator.html.
Go to Internet Explorer Search, and then click Create .
The Search Prefix dialog box, shown in Figure 7-9 appears. In the Prefix slot, type in a word you'll use to trigger searches. (That is, what you type in the prefix box is what you'll have to type in your address bar before your search terms.)
For example, to search using Google, type Google in the Prefix box. You don't have to use the site's full name. For example, if you want to type gl to search using Google, enter gl in the Prefix box.
Note: You can only type one word in the prefix box, or else the search won't work. So, for example, when you set up Internet Explorer to search from the address bar using the Ask Jeeves site, you'd have to use a single word in the address box ‚ for example, Ask . That way, when you want to search using Ask Jeeves, you'd type Ask and then your search term in Explorer's address bar.
In the URL box, type this URL, exactly as you see it, for a Google search: http://www.google.com/search?q=%s.
This URL depends on the search engine you want to use. For a list of the URLs you should use for Alta Vista, Yahoo, Lycos, Ask Jeeves, and Google, see Table 7-2.
Table 7-2. Search URLs for Search Sites
http://www. altavista .com/sites/search/web?q=%s
Click OK and then Apply .
You can now search from Internet Explorer's address bar by typing Google and then your search term, like this: Google Bartoli .
Tip: When searching, you can use more than one search term ‚ for example, house cat ‚ just as you would when you're doing a search at http://www.google.com or any other site.
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Figure 7-9. TweakUI lets you use Internet Explorer's address bar to search using other sites besides Microsoft's own MSN. Create separate entries for each search engine you want to be able to use.
If you want to be able to search from Internet Explorer's address bar using other search engines, like Yahoo!, Alta Vista, Lycos, or Ask Jeeves, repeat steps 3-6 for each service.