|Initial release||December 11, 2000|
7.5.8231.2252 (Internet Explorer) / November 21, 2016 (Internet Explorer)
|Operating system||Microsoft Windows|
Google Toolbar was a web browser toolbar for Internet Explorer, developed by Google. It was first released in 2000 for Internet Explorer 5. Google Toolbar was also distributed as a Mozilla plug-in for Firefox from September 2005 to June 2011. On December 12, 2021, the software was no longer available for download, and the website now redirects to a support page.
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. 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. 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, and for other browsers, like Safari, it was available as a bookmarklet.
Web site owners could not control Sidewiki comments, and there was no way for a web site to opt out of Sidewiki; however, Sidewiki was disabled on secure sites.
In September 2011, Google announced that it would discontinue Sidewiki.
My Location was a geolocation service which uses the location of Wi-Fi access points to determine the toolbar user's location. This location was used to optimize search results based on where the user was located. Google Toolbar can also provide the geolocation data to third-party websites 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."
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.
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. Although it was limited in functionality and scope, it increased Folding@home's participation from 10,000 up to about 30,000 active CPUs. The program ended in October 2005 in favor of the project's official clients, and is no longer available for the Toolbar.
On December 12th, 2021, Google Toolbar was quietly shut down by Google. The website now redirects to Toolbar Support, stating the user should install Google Chrome instead, and shows instructions on how to uninstall Toolbar for those on Internet Explorer. Computers that still have Google Toolbar are not affected.