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Enhanced Web Browsing With Toolbars

As the Web grows more crowded and just plain "noisy" with information bombarding us from every angle, most people welcome any tool, trick or shortcut to help them wade through the mountains of data to find what they want.

Since your web browser represents your main window to the Internet, it makes sense for any tool which enables you to find what you need and get around faster online should sit right where you need it most.

Introducing Web browser "toolbars," free little programs that work with Internet Explorer and Netscape to put you several steps closer to the information you need right now.

~ Google Toolbar ~
The free toolbar from search giant Google offers the best search features of any toolbar we evaluated.

Not only does it allow you to search the web, but also enables you to search within a website to find specific information.

The Google toolbar's main features include "Page Rank," which gives an indication of a website's overall value based on your search criteria and other factors, along with a "backwards links" function which allows you to see which sites link to the website currently loaded in your browser.

You can download the Google toolbar on your web browser by visiting http://toolbar.google.com and following the simple installation instruction.

~ Alexa Toolbar ~
Alexa's main claim to fame revolves around its traffic ranking report on virtually any site on the Internet.

The lower the Traffic Ranking number, the more popular a site rates in Alexa's eyes. Currently Yahoo, MSN and Google occupy the top 3 spots on Alexa's charts.

With so many websites on the Internet, an Alexa ranking of less than 100,000 is considered good, and a ranking of less than 10,000 is considered outstanding as far as a site's relative popularity on the Web.

Alexa also offers a related links feature right on the toolbar so you can quickly find links to sites that other people also visit when surfing the site you currently have loaded in your browser.

Alexa also offers a pop-up blocker to help cut down on the pop-up windows that seem to invade your desktop the minute you venture online. You can download the Alexa Toolbar free from www.alexa.com.

~ AltaVista Toolbar ~
Former search giant AltaVista recently jumped on the toolbar bandwagon with their offering from www.altavista.com.

Install the AltaVista toolbar and access a couple of interesting features, including a language translation button and an MP3 search.

Click the "Translate" button and instantly translate entire web pages from one language to another.

The MP3 search will help you find the tune you want from AltaVista's audio index.

Most of the toolbars offer additional gadgets to help you with everything from weather forecasts to currency conversion.

Because they offer many of the same features and they take up valuable screen space, using more than one toolbar at a time often proves impractical.

Since most toolbars come free of charge, evaluate them all for their main features and overall usability for your particular needs and then stick with the best one.

(c) Jim Edwards - All Rights reserved - http://www.thenetreporter.com

Jim Edwards is a syndicated newspaper columnist (http://www.TheNetReporter.com) and is the author of numerous best-selling ebooks, information products and software programs.

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