Google Toolbar

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Google Toolbar
Google Toolbar wordmark.png
Initial releaseDecember 11, 2000; 20 years ago (2000-12-11)[1]
Stable release
7.5.8231.2252 (Internet Explorer) / November 21, 2016 (Internet Explorer)
Operating systemMicrosoft Windows
LicenseProprietary freeware

Google Toolbar is a web browser toolbar for Internet Explorer, developed by Google. It was first released in 2000 for Internet Explorer 5. Google Toolbar was also supported on Firefox from September 2005 to June 2011.


Google Toolbar resides above the browser's tab bar and provides a search box to carry out web searches. Users can log into their Gmail accounts and access their email, saved bookmarks, and web history. It has tools such as AutoLink, AutoFill, Translation, spell checker common to all browsers, while pop-up blocker and word finder are restricted to Internet Explorer.[2] Google Toolbar is often distributed through product bundling with a primary download.


Google Sidewiki was launched on September 23, 2009, allowing users to make comments, which are visible to the public, on any web page.[3] Google uses ranking algorithms to determine comment relevancy and usefulness using criteria such as users voting up and down a comment and past contributions. Sidewiki is currently available for Internet Explorer and Firefox through Google Toolbar, the Google Chrome browser through an add-on,[4] and for other browsers, like Safari, it is available as a bookmarklet.

Web site owners cannot control Sidewiki comments,[5] and there is currently no way for a web site to opt out of Sidewiki; however, Sidewiki is disabled on secure sites.[6]

In September 2011, Google announced that it would discontinue Sidewiki.

My Location[edit]

My Location is a geolocation service which uses the location of Wi-Fi access points to determine the toolbar user's location.[7] This location is used to optimize search results based on where the user is located.[7] Google Toolbar can also provide the geolocation data to third-party websites[7] through the W3C Geolocation API.


Google Toolbar was criticized when the AutoLink feature was added to the toolbar because this new feature directed users to pre-selected commercial websites. For example, if it finds a book's ISBN on a webpage, it provides a link to Amazon's product page for the particular book. Google said that the feature "adds useful links" and "none of the companies which received AutoLinks had paid for the service."

Web caching[edit]

The desktop version of Google Toolbar shows the cached copy of any given search result, which was useful for slower Internet connections and benefitted by Google Web Accelerator until its discontinuation in 2008. This feature does not exist for the mobile version.[citation needed]


Google Toolbar 1.0 (December 11, 2000)

New features:

  • Direct access to the Google search functionality from any web page
  • Web Site search
  • Automatic location of search terms on the web page with each word highlighted in its own color;
  • PageRank – Google's ranking the page

System Requirements: Windows 95, 98, 2000 or NT, and version 5.0 or higher of Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Google Toolbar 2.0 (August 13, 2003)

New features:

  • Pop-up Blocker
  • AutoFill: Autocompletion of web forms with information saved a user's computer.
  • BlogThis: Posting of links to weblogs

System Requirements: Windows and Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Google Toolbar 3.0 (February 16, 2005)

New features:

  • SpellCheck
  • AutoLink for U.S. address on a web page to an Google map, packages tracking and links for ISBN numbers.
  • WordTranslator

System Requirements: Windows and Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Google Toolbar 3.0 for Firefox (September 22, 2005)

New features:

  • Feed integration with the Google Personalized Homepage
  • Google Suggest, and a menu allowing people to customize icons on the toolbar.

System Requirements: Firefox; Windows, Mac, or Linux

Google Toolbar 4.0 (January 29, 2006)

New features:

  • Instant suggestions when typing a search request
  • Easy way to bookmark pages
  • Sending the current page to social networks and emails
  • Custom user defined buttons to search external web sites

System Requirements: Windows XP

Google Toolbar 5.0 (December 12, 2007)

New features:

  • Google Gadgets
  • Google Notebook to save content (text and images) with a bookmark
  • Forms auto-fill with a single click
  • Toolbar settings are saved online
  • Suggestions for broken links

System Requirements: Internet Explorer, Windows XP or Windows Vista

Google Toolbar 6.0 (February 24, 2009)

New features:

  • Quick Search Box feature that provides search functionality outside of the browser
  • Internet Explorer 8 support
  • Incremental improvements for search suggestions, Google Bookmarks, Autofill, and Custom Buttons and gadgets

System Requirements: Internet Explorer, Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista, or Windows 7+

Google Toolbar 7.0 for Firefox (August 10, 2010)

New features:

  • Compatible with Firefox 4 Beta.

System Requirements: Firefox; Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux

Google Toolbar 7.0 for Internet Explorer (April 21, 2011)

New features:

  • Toolbar Instant
  • Google+ notifications

System Requirements: Internet Explorer; Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista, or Windows 7+


Google Watch has raised concerns about Google Toolbar's possible threats to privacy, such as tracking of browsing patterns, automatic installation of updates without the user's knowledge, and a privacy policy that can be revised without notice.[8] The toolbar does not track personally identifiable surfing activities of the end user unless advanced features such as PageRank are specifically enabled by the user.[9] It does track "anonymous" statistics, which can reveal a lot of information when correlated with other data, although similar criticisms could be made of Google's online search engine.[10]

Google Compute[edit]

Google Compute was a separately downloadable add-on for the Google Toolbar which utilized the user's computer to help the Folding@home distributed computing project, which studies disease-relevant protein folding and other molecular dynamics. It was founded in March 2002 by Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Functionally, it downloaded a small packet of work, performed calculations on it, and uploaded it back to Stanford University.[11] Although it was limited in functionality and scope, it increased Folding@home's participation from 10,000 up to about 30,000 active CPUs.[12] The program ended in October 2005 in favor of the project's official clients, and is no longer available for the Toolbar.[13][14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Google Launches The Google Toolbar". December 11, 2000. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  2. ^ "Google Toolbar Features". Retrieved May 16, 2009.
  3. ^ "Help and learn from others as you browse the web: Google Sidewiki". Google. September 23, 2009. Retrieved September 23, 2009.
  4. ^ "Chrome Web Store - Google Sidewiki". December 19, 2011. Archived from the original on December 19, 2011.
  5. ^ Andrew Keen (September 24, 2009). "Sidewiki: Google colonial sideswipe". The Daily Telegraph. UK. Retrieved December 12, 2009.
  6. ^ "How do webmasters opt out of sidewiki?". Retrieved February 24, 2010.
  7. ^ a b c "Toolbar Help". Retrieved May 20, 2010.
  8. ^ Google's new toolbar: Now more evil than ever
  9. ^ "Does Wesley's Google Toolbar Invade Your Privacy? Not Really…". TechPluto. May 16, 2009. Retrieved May 17, 2009.
  10. ^ Is Google too powerful? by Bill Thompson, BBC News, 2/21/2003
  11. ^ Shankland, Stephen (March 22, 2002). "Google takes on supercomputing". CNet News.
  12. ^ "Futures in Biotech 27: Folding@home at 1.3 Petaflops". December 28, 2007. Archived from the original (Interview, webcast) on September 21, 2012.
  13. ^ ChelseaOilman (December 30, 2005). "Google is after your CPU cycles". Retrieved September 6, 2011.
  14. ^ Google (2007). "Your computer's idle time is too precious to waste". Archived from the original on June 11, 2008. Retrieved September 6, 2011.

External links[edit]