Ditch Your Google Toolbar

Mozilla Firebird offers an extension that emulates the Google Toolbar. It doesn’t have some of the newer features such as the popup-blocker (Firebird has it’s own popup-blocker that works great), but it does have the familiar options (e.g. the search bar, next/previous result buttons, highlight options, individual search term “find” buttons, etc.).

Every since I discovered the Google Toolbar, I can’t stand browsers that don’t have it installed. However, I have discovered that the features I use most often are available through Mozilla Firebird without having to clutter up my browser with an extra toolbar.

First off, I’ve already covered Firebird’s smart keywords in a previous blog entry. Since I wrote that article, I’ve added keywords for Google Images and Google News. I don’t use Google Groups, but you could set up a keyword for that just as easily.

After setting up all of these searches, I stopped using the Google Toolbar for searches. I found the only thing I used it for was to search for individual words on pages using the search term buttons. Firebird can handle that too, though. If the browser window has focus (not the address bar or search bars) and you begin typing, it will highlight the first hyperlink on the page that matches what you’ve typed. You can do the same thing to find any word on the page by first typing a forward slash (“/”). You can find the next instance using the F3 key. You could, of course, do all of this with the “Find” box (call it up with Ctrl-F), but it’s much faster to do without.

Now that we can perform searches right in the address bar and find words without the use of highlighting and finding options, the only thing that makes the Google Toolbar remotely worth keeping is the next/previous search result buttons. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve used that feature, so it’s not a big deal for me to lose it. When I do a Google search, I usually click on a result using the middle mouse button to open it in a new tab. This keeps the Google window open so I can continue to go through the results.

So I’ve been without the Google bar for a few days now and I really haven’t missed it. The Mozilla team has really done a great job of keeping Firebird extremely feature rich, yet small, fast, and standards compliant.