Want to save time surfing for genealogy information? A free web browser toolbar might do the trick.
Your browser toolbar is the area at the top of your browser window. Besides the address bar for typing in URLs you want to visit, it contains buttons that let you go to the last web page you viewed, bookmark pages, and refresh or stop loading the page you’re on (the appearance and features vary from browser to browser). And you can enhance your surfing by adding third-party toolbars that let you access your favorite websites’ home page or certain site features without actually having to go there.
You can download a toolbar for just about anything, including using Facebook <facebook.com/toolbar>, searching Google <google.com/toolbar> and generating MapQuest maps <www.mapquest.com/toolbar>. A genealogy toolbar may have search boxes for one or more search engines, menus of bookmarked genealogy sites and other shortcuts. You might even be able to customize the toolbar’s appearance and settings.
Sometimes toolbars come with spyware or adware, so before you download one, look for an online review or check the developer’s website for reassurance that you won’t get any nasty surprises. And check to confirm that the toolbar works with your favorite browser (such as Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer) and that it’s easy to uninstall if you change your mind.
Among the free toolbar choices for family history buffs:
• The My Genealogy toolbar has drop-down menus of categorized links to genealogy websites. It works with Internet Explorer and Firefox.
• Relatively Curious blogger Tami Glatz developed a toolbar that links to hundreds of genealogy research websites, covering maps, vital records information, cemeteries, newspapers and more—mostly free to access. Glatz corrals subscription websites into their own tab. You can use her toolbar on Firefox, Safari and Explorer.
• Genealogy Gems podcaster Lisa Louise Cooke—who also hosts the Family Tree Magazine Podcast—created her toolbar to connect fans to Genealogy Gems news, videos and more, including our own Genealogy Insider blog. The toolbar features a player for Cooke’s podcasts; just select an episode from the drop-down menu to listen.
• If you’re anAncestry.com member, you can download Ancestry.com’s toolbar for quick access to links on the site. It also lets you easily save links, and add photos and text from any web page to your Ancestry tree. The toolbar requires Windows 2000 or newer. Before press time, readers reported difficulties with version 8 of Internet Explorer.
• MyHeritage’s Family Toolbar lets Windows users tap into the site’s metasearch of genealogy databases. You can access your family site on MyHeritage, if you have one, and add photos in one click. Its niftiest feature is the ability to chat with other MyHeritage users. It doesn’t work with Firefox or Safari, though.
• Similar to MyHeritage’s add-on, Genoom’s toolbar (compatible with Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari) lets users of the eponymous family tree building and networking site access their accounts and interact with their circles of family and friends.
• Google is a handy genealogy tool for searching on ancestors’ names, getting language translations, locating addresses and more; you can make more use of it than ever with help from our Googling Your Genealogy webinar and the book Google Your Family Tree by Daniel M. Lynch (FamilyLink). The Google toolbar isn’t designed specifically for genealogists, but you’ll appreciate the handy shortcuts to the search engine’s features.
• The Malhamdale Local History Group of Yorkshire, England, created a toolbar with links to the group’s website and other genealogy sites. It’s compatible with Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox.
• The Manchester and Lancashire (England) Family History Society launched a genealogy toolbar that provides links to more than 200 useful British genealogy sites. It’s regularly updated, and you can configure settings such as which website categories to display. You can run it on Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari.
• Researching in a foreign country? Look for native language toolbars such as Genealogie Werkbalk for Dutch genealogy (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari).
• To use browser toolbars on a PC, you generally need Windows 2000 or newer. Most toolbars don’t yet work with Mac OS X Snow Leopard.
From the March 2010 Family Tree Magazine