5 Free Chrome Tools for Faster, Easier Searches

Look no further! These tools let you automate, customize, and cull searches to improve your results.

By Liane Cassavoy
Thu, January 23, 2014

PC World — Your search for the perfect search is over. Five free tools from the Chrome Web Store work with the Chrome browser to make searching easier, or help you tweak your search queries to minimize unwanted results. If you want to delve only into Wikipedia, or if you want to ignore certain sites--especially ones that seem suspect--you can do it with one of these helpers.

Highlight to Search

I'm lazy. I admit it. Sometimes, the idea of typing a query into a search engine is enough to discourage me from running a Web search altogether. But with Highlight to Search, I can embrace my laziness and still conduct the Web searches I need.

Once you've installed this Chrome extension, Highlight to Search lets you conduct searches for keywords you select on a webpage. Highlight a word or phrase, and Highlight to Search will display a small magnifying glass icon.

Click that, and you'll see your highlighted phrase along with other search suggestions. Pick one, click again, and your search is complete: Highlight to Search opens a new tab, displaying Google's search results for your query.

Searching doesn't get any easier than that.

Wikipedia Search

I resisted the allure of Wikipedia for a long time. It can't be trusted, I said. It's not reliable, I claimed. And now I'm over it.

Opening my mind to Wikipedia also opened the door to Wikipedia Search. This Chrome App and browser extension lets you search Wikipedia without leaving your current webpage.

All of the information you seek appears in a window that drops down from the Wikipedia Search icon added to your browser bar. The attractive and well-designed window includes images and links. You also have the option of clicking a button to view the Wikipedia page in a new browser tab.

Wikipedia Search isn't perfect: On two occasions, it returned an error page in response to a basic search query. (In both instances, however, the error disappeared when I repeated my query.) Nevertheless, it remains a great way to dig up information from a vast trove of content without interrupting your browsing.

Personal Blocklist (by Google)

There's such a thing as TMI (too much information) in search, too. Say that you prefer the food reviews posted on Urbanspoon to those on Chow or Yelp. A reliable way to prevent sites that you don't want to read from surfacing in searches is to use Google's own Personal Blocklist (by Google). Make no mistake: That's its name.

This Chrome extension adds a link to all of your Google search results, so you can block search results from a given domain. Click it, and all such results disappear from view. The domain goes to your personal blocklist, which you can manage by clicking the Personal Blocklist icon added to your Chrome bar. Here, you can choose to block only subsets of certain domains, remove sites from your blocklist, or add others simply by typing them in.

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