Google your way: Transform search engine with personalized home
By Jay Dougherty Mar 26, 2006, 14:58 GMT
Washington - Google is all about finding what you need on the internet. So why not put more of what you frequently access on the Google page itself? That's the idea behind Google's best-kept secret: its customisation features.
Taking advantage of the web's growing ability to push particular information to various interfaces, Google allows you to tailor the search page so that you can see at a glance more of the information that you frequently need or want. Best of all, you can switch between your highly-customised Google interface and the simplicity of the original with one click.
The magic behind much of Google's ability to allow you to customise the search engine page lies in what are known as RSS (really simply syndication) 'feeds.' A feed is material that a web site has published in a special format that enables others to republish or syndicate it on other web sites. Once published, a feed can be tacked onto other web sites, and Google makes it easy for your to tack feeds onto your own personalised Google page.
- Getting started
Before you can customise a single thing about Google, you need to register for a Google account. Go to http://www.google.com/accounts/newaccount, and supply an e-mail, user name and password. That's the only information required, and you do not need to use your primary e-mail address, of course, if you are concerned about privacy.
Once you click the 'I accept' button, you will receive an e-mail verification that your account has been created. Click the link in the e-mail message you receive, and you are whisked off to an activation page, where you can sign in by clicking the 'Sign In' link. Select 'remember me on this computer,' and you will not have to repeat the sign-in process every time you want to access your account.
After account creation, when you open the Google main page, you will see some new information in the upper right-hand corner, including your e-mail address, a 'Personalised Home' link, a 'My Account' link and a 'Sign Out' link.
- Get personal
Click the Personalised Home link, and you will see Google's version of a customised home page. You do not have to accept this version as your own, though. Instead, you can add and delete elements as desired. Among the items on the personalised starter page are 'top stories' of the day, 'weather' and 'quote of the day.'
To get rid of any of these items, click the 'x' in the item's title bar. The item will disappear, and other items on the page will be rearranged automatically. To start with a clean slate, just remove all of the items, and you will be back to a page that looks very much like the standard Google start screen.
But an 'Add Content' link in the upper left-hand corner is where the fun begins. Click that, and Google presents you with a feed list on the left-hand side of your screen. The feeds are neatly categorized under headings such as 'News,' 'Business,' 'Technology' and 'Sports.' Click one of the category heads to reveal individual feeds below. When you see a feed that interests you, simply click the Add button to the right of the feed, and your item is added to your Google personalised home page to the right. Everything happens in real-time, so you can see your changes as you're making them.
- Adding your stuff
Perhaps the most useful type of information you can add to your personalised Google page, however, is under the 'My Stuff' category in the feed list. There you will see Bookmarks, Gmail, and Search History.
Click Bookmarks, and you can add one or more often visited links to your Google main page. This is a great way to have one-click access to favourite Web sites, so that you no longer need to pull down the Favourites or Bookmarks menu in your Web browser. Search History takes advantage of Google's new Personalised Search feature, which can help you improve your search results. The Gmail button gives you instant access to your Google Gmail e-mail account, which is created for you automatically when you registered your account.
- Want it the old way?
If you get tired of the personalised Google Web page and want things back the way they were, you can revert to the standard, simple Google interface easily. From the now-personalised Google main page, just click the Classic Home link in the upper right-hand corner. Another click returns you to your personalised page.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur