Swiss Army Knife Meets the Kitchen Sink

Looking for a search toolbar, an RSS reader, online bookmark manager or web research manager? Look no further: Pluck incorporates all of these features into a single, elegant search tool.

Pluck does so many different things that it’s difficult to say exactly what kind of tool it is. Pluck includes a search toolbar, an online bookmark service, a web page clipping tool, an alerting service, an RSS News aggregator and several other tools all available from a remarkably clean and easy to use interface. And even though it boasts such an impressive array of features, Pluck is free.

Pluck installs as both a toolbar and an explorer pane in Internet Explorer. The toolbar is multi-functional, allowing you to search Google, Amazon, eBay, News, or content on your own computer that you’ve saved with Pluck.

As a search tool, Pluck’s toolbar component is basic, allowing you to run simple searches on the source you select. But once your browser has retrieved results, Pluck offers some cool post-processing features that let you do interesting things.

Results are displayed in two panels on the right side of the browser. The top frame displays search results; the bottom pane displays web pages. Scroll down your result list and the underlying web page is displayed in the bottom panel.

The “filter” box at the top of the search result frame lets you refine your results dynamically. Begin typing, and as you enter each letter any results that don’t contain the string you’re typing instantly disappear from the result list. You can also mark results as “read” and remove them from the list.

Pluck’s “power search” feature provides advanced search options for each of the sources available. These options change dynamically when you change your search source. Power search options for searching Google include all words, any words or exact match filters, filetype limiters and the ability to exclude words. You can even limit results by Google’s mostly useless date modified filter.

By contrast, power search options for eBay and Amazon focus on product and pricing information. A power search for news lets you select headlines, top sources and so on.

Want to create an alert for a frequent search? Pluck allows you to create a “perch” that runs automatically and stores the results in the Perch folder in the Explorer pane. As with the power search features, options for perches change based on the source. You can include basic word filters in Google perches. An Amazon perch lets you limit by store category, price and other Amazon features such as sales rank, customer reviews and so on.

Pluck’s integrated RSS newsreader is one of the best designed and easiest to use that I’ve come across. Links make it easy to add feeds, organize your feeds into folders, and search for new feeds. If you’re new to RSS, Pluck comes pre-configured with dozens of RSS feeds from popular blogs, news sites and so on.

But wait! There’s more! Pluck also offers a web page clipping feature that combines the best features offered by other services like Onfolio and Furl. You can store content locally on your own computer, or in online folders, and these online folders can be shared with other Pluck users. Whenever a shared online folder is updated, anyone you’ve given permission to view the folder sees the update immediately, making Pluck a very useful tool for collaborative research.

To use Pluck’s online tools, you need to register for a free account. All that’s required is a valid email address, and Pluck’s privacy policy says that it will not share this information with others.

Pluck is one of the coolest web search tools I’ve come across in quite some time. Even though it’s packed with functionality, it’s intuitive and very easy to use. Kudos to the Pluck team for building such a useful tool, and for getting it right.

Get more information and download Pluck from this page.

Requirements: Windows 2000 Home or Professional or Windows XP; Internet Explorer 6.0 or higher.

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NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication’s search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.

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