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Tuesday, 9th November 2010

"Google Launches Instant Previews" But Don't Forget CoolPreviews

Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Watch has all of the details.

As Danny correctly points out, the concept of providing a thumbnail image/page preview is not new.

At one time Ask.com's Binoculars (2004) service offered an image of the page and later on some statistical info about the site where the page came from.

Today, Bing provides a page summary, related links, and in some cases a search box (for example) when you cursor over any result.

In addition to the Google and Bing preview services there a number of Firefox add-ons and other pieces of software the allow users to view thumbnail images. One Firefox add-on (also available for Chrome) comes from Thumbshots. This company has been around since about 2002.

Danny writes:

Google’s system seeks to marry the two: an image of the page as well as extracting text. Rather than a small thumbnail image, it shows a much larger picture of what the page looks like. The larger image, and one that’s not in a standard square shape, especially helped with people finding the previews useful in testing, Google told me. In addition, the previews highlight the relevant text on the page — similar to Bing — but within the context of the image.

Two Final Notes:

1. Google is rolling out the new service. So, if you don't see the icon now, keep checking or use this URL to access the service.

2. One tool that we've used for years and can be a big time saver is CoolPreviews. It's free for Firefox and allows you to preview any web page by simply placing your cursor over the CoolPreviews icon next to any link (not only on search results pages). That's right, now clicking required.

When the preview window opens you see a live, clickable version of the page you've selected to preview. Here's a complete list of features along with reviews from RWW (2007) and LifeHacker (2006).

Note: The 2006 Lifehacker review mentions that CoolPreviews is available for other browsers. That was true. Today, it's only available for Firefox. Hopefully, they'll bring back the other versions.

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