Google Toolbar for Firefox will work on both the Mac and PC versions of FireFox 1.5
. It doesn't appear to crash the new browser, but Firefox 2 has built-in phishing protection and spell checking.
Google Toolbar can be downloaded from http://toolbar.google.com. Once downloaded, the toolbar installs itself neatly underneath the bookmarks toolbar in Firefox. Using the options button from the toolbar itself, you can customize the tools that appear on the toolbar.
Enhanced Search Box
Firefox already has a Google search box, but the enhanced search box for the Google Toolbar auto completes search phrases, which is handy if you find yourself often searching for the same keyword phrases. It also remembers your search history, so can click on the side of the search box for a drop down list of recent searches. This is actually fairly useful if you've ever tried to remember which keyword search phrase you'd used to find a particular site after you've searched for other things.
My only beef with the enhanced search box is that on the Mac version, the box does not look like a text input field, so it's not immediately clear that you can type into it. This is not an issue on the Windows version of Firefox.
Learn more about effective ways to search with Google.
Google Safe Browsing
"Safe Browsing" means that Google will warn you if a site looks like an attempt to phish. "Phishing" is a common fraud technique where someone designs a website to look like another website in an attempt to get you to enter personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. Usually phishing attempts begin with a forged email with links to the fake website, but phishing methods are becoming more common and more sophisticated. Google's safe browsing tool attempts to detect websites that appear to be fraudulent attempts to collect personal information.
It's probably unwise to rely solely on Google's safe browsing tool to thwart fraud of this sort, but it is a good back-up.
Specialized Search Buttons
Google Toolbar can display quick buttons to a variety of Google searches
, such as Images, Maps, and Froogle. The search window opens in a new tab. It would be nice if you could highlight a term and then press the button to preform the specialized search, but the button merely opens a new tab.
Learn more about different types of Google searches.
Use the Blog This button to post a URL to your Blogger blog. The button opens a new window in Blogger with a link to the current web page.
Learn more about Blogger with this review.
Subscribe to Feed
Screen Capture by Marziah Karch
RSS and Atom are methods of syndicating web pages, such as blogs and news feeds. The subscribe to feed button on the Google Toolbar allows you to easily subscribe to these feeds. If a feed is available on a page, you can press the subscribe button, and the feed will be added to the feed reader you specify. You can use Google Personalized Home, null, FireFox Live Bookmarks, Yahoo!, and other services. This makes it a lot faster to track and add many feeds for research or entertainment.
The Send with Gmail button opens a new tab with your Gmail account when you click on it. It also makes any email links within web pages open in Gmail instead of any default email program you may have set. You can turn off this feature if you wish to use a different email client.
Read a review of Gmail.
Google Toolbar for FireFox lets you choose one of three basic layout schemes. You can place all of the Google Toolbar tools in the classic toolbar, place most tools in the Toolbar and replace the standard FireFox search box with the Enhanced Search Box, or replace the standard search box and hide the Toolbar tools until needed. This adds flexibility, especially for smaller computer screens.