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Five free Chrome tools for faster, easier searches

Liane Cassavoy | Jan. 24, 2014
Your search for the perfect search is over. Five free tools from the Chrome Web Store work with the Chrome browser to make searching easier, or help you tweak your search queries to minimize unwanted results. If you want to delve only into Wikipedia, or if you want to ignore certain sites--especially ones that seem suspect--you can do it with one of these helpers.

When future searches return results from those sites, Google notifies you with a message at the bottom of the page and a link to view those results. Personal Blocklist (by Google) isn't a universal cure to search-engine overload, but it is a handy way to tailor your results.

You know better than to trust everything you find on the Web, but distinguishing what you can trust from what you can't is often difficult. To help you figure it out, WOT (a Chrome extension from the website reputation and review service) crowdsources the job.

WOT adds small icons next to search results that all major search engines return, along with links that appear on your social networks and Webmail services. The icons use the traffic-light scheme: Green means the site is widely considered to be reliable; yellow suggests that you should treat the site with caution; and red indicates that it may pose a security threat.

Clicking the icon takes you to WOT's site. There you see more details about the site, and you can read what other users have to say about it. WOT allows you to add your own information about any site on the Web, just by clicking the WOT icon on to your Chrome menu bar.

WOT doesn't guarantee your safety on the Web, but it does help you navigate its dangers with the help of thousands of cyber-friends.

One of my all-time favorite browser tools, the Google Toolbar, isn't available for Google Chrome. According to Google, that's because many of the Google Toolbar's features are built into Chrome itself. Still, I miss having a toolbar, which is why I love SearchBar. This Chrome extension adds a customizable search toolbar to Chrome.

SearchBar adds a magnifying-glass icon to Chrome's menu bar. Click it, and a search toolbar appears. For easier access to the toolbar, use the settings menu to create a custom key combination, or have it display whenever you're browsing. To use it, enter your query, and click the site you'd like to search.

The default options are Google, Wikipedia, YouTube, and Wolfram Alpha, but you can customize the choices by using SearchBar's settings menu. SearchBar lacks the slickness of Google's own toolbar, which becomes its own part of your browser. But since Google Toolbar isn't available for Chrome, SearchBar is the next best thing.

Faster, easier, better search
Anyone can type a search term into a text bar. But these five tools do more, helping you dig exactly what you want out of the search results more quickly and easily. And they're free, so you don't have to dig out your wallet at all.


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