A Better Search Tool for Finding Needles in Haystacks

The NeedleSearch toolbar lets you capture the basic search functionality from any search engine, site search tool, or specialized database and put it at your command with a single click.

In a nutshell, NeedleSearch operates like other toolbars — with one very big, important difference. NeedleSearch allows you to easily (and I do mean easily) harness the search functionality of any search engine directly into the NeedleSearch toolbar. No need to wait for a developer — you can do it yourself!

Once you’ve downloaded the toolbar, NeedleSearch installs quickly and easily. When installed, you’ll see that a few search engines have been “pre-programmed” for you. You can edit them, remove them, or add new ones. Editing or removing these choices is easily accomplished by selecting the “edit” button (second to last button on the toolbar).

Here’s all that is required to add a rapidly expanding general web engine, Gigablast, to the NeedleSearch toolbar.

  • Go to the Gigablast home page and turn on the NeedleSearch auto-adder (button with the “plus” sign on it).
  • In the Gigablast search box type “NeedleSearch” — all one word, as shown. You should see a message that Gigablast has been added to NeedleSearch. That’s it, you’re done!
  • The next time you want to run a basic search with Gigablast, simply enter your search terms into the NeedleSearch toolbar, use the pull-down to select Gigablast, and click the search button.

Once you’ve installed your favorite tools, you’re able to run basic searches directly from your browser while viewing any web page. My favorite reason for using NeedleSearch is that in addition to searching general web engines, such as Google and Teoma, you can also use it with specialized databases.

Here’s an example.

I’m always searching Peter Scott’s wonderful Libdex database of library web sites and online public access catalogs. With NeedleSearch I can search the database without having to first go to the Libdex site. Now, no matter where you are on the web, you can search Libdex without first having to find the Libdex site.

NeedleSearch has many other features, as well. For example, you can open results in a new window, highlight search terms, and more. A button is also available to find your search term(s) on the results page or the underlying web page.

You can also enhance the power of NeedleSearch by “hacking” URL strings to set up more sophisticated queries.

The only issue in trying NeedleSearch is that it only works with the open-source web browser, Mozilla. Don’t think of this as a drawback. If you’ve never tried Mozilla, by all means do so. It’s free, and offers many compelling features, in addition to being largely unburdened by the all too frequent glitches that require patches to Internet Explorer.

Like NeedleSearch, the Mozilla browser offers all sorts of features, including integrated email and newsgroup access, and a pop-up blocker. Mozilla also allows you to open and view multiple pages in tabbed windows. Very useful! Mozilla is available for several platforms, including Windows, Macintosh, Linux and more.

As with most web tools, the best way to learn about NeedleSearch is to download a copy, have the documentation nearby, and experiment. It’s also a good reason (if you need one) to download and try the Mozilla browser. I think you’ll find both of these free tools easy to use and very useful.

Gary Price is the publisher of ResourceShelf, a weblog covering the online information industry.

Search Headlines

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.

Google crowned highest-impact brand…
CNET Feb 3 2004 2:36PM GMT
Chinese Internet portal Sohu reports profit in 2003…
SiliconValley.com Feb 3 2004 2:08PM GMT
Google plans Swiss R&D centre, taps European skill…
Forbes Feb 3 2004 1:29PM GMT
Major ISPs Ponder ‘Postage’ To Stem Spam…
Internet News Feb 3 2004 1:04PM GMT
Analysts still bet on Google IPO…
San Francisco Chronicle Feb 3 2004 12:19PM GMT
Study Shows Web Searches Getting More Complex…
dmnews.com Feb 3 2004 7:52AM GMT
Dipsie Search Engine Stirring Some Buzz…
Research Buzz Feb 3 2004 5:04AM GMT
Yahoo Announces a Heapin’ Helpin’ Of Election Resources…
Research Buzz Feb 3 2004 5:04AM GMT
Beginners should learn XHTML…
Computer Weekly Feb 3 2004 3:06AM GMT
Turning P2P music file-swapping into a legitimate business…
SiliconValley.com Feb 3 2004 2:37AM GMT
Google unhappy with copycat…
BBC Feb 2 2004 1:26PM GMT
Microsoft releases metadata removal tool…
The Register Feb 2 2004 12:43PM GMT
Google goes Yiddish…
Jerusalem Post reg Feb 2 2004 10:18AM GMT
Google for a grade: UW class to study popular search engine…
Seattle Times Feb 2 2004 9:23AM GMT
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