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Comparing Search History Features

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With Google having released its new Google My Search History feature yesterday, I wanted to spin back around and look at where we stand in terms of search history offerings across a number of major search engines. I've done so in chart format below.

Before diving into the chart, let me stress that this isn't a "have the most features and win" contest. Some features you might not ever use. What search history features seems to work best, like the search engines themselves, may fall to your own personal decision.

Even among the editors here at Search Engine Watch, we all love different things. Personally, I find the A9 and Google tools the most compelling, because they automatically save what I'm looking for. I think it's cool that Ask, Yahoo, and A9 have categorization and annotation features in various manners, but those aren't something I expect to use myself. Others may -- and that's why it's great that they are offered.

Chris and Gary are very much into tools that save the full-text of documents and let you search against them. I'm leaving it to them to them to do a separate recap on how tools stand on that front. Gary's also playing with the Filangy, which is a closed beta, and reviewed it yesterday here. It's not on the chart below because being a closed beta, it's not something everyone can use yet.

Personally, I've loved the Google Desktop as a way to keep track of everything I've seen exactly as I saw it when visiting pages across the web. It's largely solved my own search history desires at Google, as I've written before. But the additional features from Google are definitely welcomed.

On to the chart! A guide to categories follow it below.

Feature

A9

Ask

Eurek
ster

Find
ory

Furl

Google

Yahoo

Auto
Save

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

No

Pause

No

n/a

No

No

n/a

Yes

n/a

History
Search

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

Date
Sort

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Term
Sort

No

Yes

No

No

No

No

Yes

Site
Sort

Yes

No

No

No

No

No

Yes

Notes

No

Yes

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

Tags

No

Yes

No

No

Yes

No

No

Folders

No

Yes

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

Launch

4/04

9/04

1/04

11/04

2003

4/05

10/04

Auto Save: Means that your searches are automatically saved. My Yahoo Search does have a Visited Results feature that's supposed to be able to do this, but I found it's not working for me in either Internet Explorer or Firefox. So I've marked it as No, for the moment.

Pause: If searches are automatically saved, this means that you can temporarily pause saving. If pause isn't offered, you have to sign-out of the system to prevent saving.

History Search: Means that you can do a search just within the things you've searched for previously. For example, if you knew you looked for something related to "cars" but didn't know exactly how you searched, you could search for "cars" and find all the queries containing that word. In some cases, a history search may also search against the content of the web page or notes and annotations you've made.

Date Sort: Means that you can sort your history by date in some manner. The degree and flexibility of which may vary.

Term Sort: Means that you can sort your search history by term (the title of the search), in alphabetical or reverse-alphabetical order.

Site Sort: Means that you view your search history by seeing it listed in order of sites you clicked on.

Notes: Means that you can annotate things you've found in your search history with comments. At A9, these notes aren't stored in your search history, so I've marked this as No. However, annotation of sites you've visited can be done using the diary feature, if you use the A9 toolbar. More info here.

Tags: Means that you can annotate items in your search history into categories by tagging them with keywords.

Folders: Means that you can organize your search history into folders, such as if you want to group certain queries into a particular subject heading.

Launch: When the search history feature was launched.

Other Notes: All the services give you the ability to delete what you've searched for in some way, so I've not made that a column on the chart. In addition, using toolbars or desktop software, you can extend the functionality of search history features, in some cases.

Looking for more background? Here are some past reviews of each tool from Search Engine Watch and some related stories:

Search history tools also raise privacy issues, so here are some past stories to consider reading:


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