Google Toolbar is a browser toolbar for Firefox and Internet Explorer which was first made available to the public in 2000. At the time, its main features were a web page search function, access to the Google search engine from any website, and access to the rankings of the site users were viewing. Its next major update was in 2003, when Google added the auto-completion of web forms (AutoFill) and the ability to block pop-ups. Around this time blogging was becoming more and more popular, and the phenomenon was also reflected in the Google Toolbar when the “Blog This” function was added, giving users the ability to post content they’ve found online straight to their blogs.
In 2005, Google added SpellCheck and a word translator, as well as Google Suggest, which was developed into instant suggestions in 2006. Google Toolbar 3.0 also included a variety of useful services such as package tracking, solutions for searching ISBN numbers, and a connection between addresses and Google Maps for users in the United States. Updates in the following years improved on already existing functions, made it possible to save the toolbar’s settings online, and made sure it was compatible with the latest versions of the supported browsers.
Sidewiki, which was launched in 2009 but discontinued in 2011, was one of the Toolbar’s most interesting features. It allowed users to post publicly viewable comments about web pages, which were then rated by other users based on their quality. These comments were taken into account by the Google algorithm when indexing a page and determining its rank, and webmasters could not opt out of Sidewiki.
The toolbar currently provides a My Location option, which offers more relevant search results when it comes to local services such as restaurants or cinemas. Some concerns over privacy have been raised, although Google’s data is always gathered and stored anonymously.