In the past six months, I’ve noticed a heck of a lot of requests from sites/programs to add toolbars to my browser. I use Internet Explorer at work and on my desktop, and Firefox for Ubuntu on my netbook, so I don’t mind having different settings on different computers, but what is the benefit of using all these ad-ons? Do I really need them at all?
The bread and butter (mmm butter) tool bars are your AOL, Yahoo, Google, Bing, Ask, which all do pretty much the same thing. You get your mail, your news, a search probably, and some stuff related to news feeds and “sharing”, but there’s not a lot of benefit of these except looking pretty. Sometimes you get a nice push-pull mail indicator if the mail client is looking live at your inbox, but that’s hardly worth the download.
There are some specialty toolbars however that you may find useful. Some I think of as “temporary” toolbars, things you might want to load on for a project, or a week, or a season.
There’s a whole lot of unemployment right now. Any jobseeker/recruiter tells you that it becomes a fulltime job when you’re really looking for one, and the LinkedIn bar is exceptionally useful. It gives you direct access to your account, viewable connections at corporations, and quick searches to saved profiles of interest. I’ve been using the Science Fiction and Comic Book groups on LinkedIn for leisure, but it’s a lot easier to use the toolbar to jump back and forth into discussions than waiting for email replies in my inbox. Once you’re done with your downtime of unemployment, just remove it.
This is dangerous. Having a Zynga toolbar is like saying you don’t shower and eat donuts in bulk in front of your computer, because your Farmville crops are more important than bathing. I tried this for a day for Mafiawars and had to uninstall it when I wet myself during a very slothful evening. One good thing is that downloading a Zynga game bar usually unlocks items or rewards, so you can download the bar, get the goods, and then uninstall it.
Yeah, Facebook has a toolbar. Notifications and sharing. If you’re really into being wired to your facebook, you probably have your facebook mobile and you sleep-type your updates.
Not a full toolbar but a nice add-in, go to your View, Toolbars, and select Adobe PDF if you’ve got it showing there. “Convert webpage to PDF” is great if you need to share a temporary screen mockup or save a collaborative/in process page to show to a friend or coworker. What is odd to me is that a search of Adobe Toolbar shows more links about removing it than installing it. I’ve had no such problems though.
The Phillies Toolbar is a nice in-season favorite. You get scores, scores, news, ticketing, and access to Twitter and plenty of other media. Of course, you can go to MLB.com and find them for any team. The NHL has one too, as does ESPN, but I find the MLB one to be the nicest/most useful. “But TTJ, there are NBA and NFL toolbars too!” The NFL widgets are more useful, but let’s face it, NFL news is harder to escape than an oil slick in the Gulf headed for a pelican when you’re in season. And the NBA toolbars from NBA.com don’t offer much more than the top page header for quick links. So if you’re going for a sports toolbar, go MLB.
Fantasy Sports Toolbars
If you’re downloading a fantasy sports based toolbar (and there are a LOT of 3rd party ones), you’re probably not going to win your fantasy league. Fantasy sports winners use the real sports news, and if you’re like me, you probably have your CBSSportsline page up for 18 straight hours on Sundays in the fall.
Internet Radio Toolbar
If your iTunes is hogging memory or you have a Zune (I feel bad for you), try this Internet Radio Toolbar. Also helps you search and shop.
How do I remove a toolbar?