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Make Web Browsing More Efficient with Cooliris Previews
by M. Chris Stevens

I hate searching the Web.


As part of my job, I frequently have to go searching for images, specifications and blurbs about the products we sell. During my off-hours, I am often scrounging the various type houses to feed my nefarious addiction to OpenType fonts, searching various AppleScript and Photoshop forums, and keeping up on new Mac freeware and shareware.

While Safari's search field (enhanced using the now-free Inquisitor) helps, Google's results are sometimes hit-or-miss. I spend a lot of time hitting the "back" button or hitting the Snapback button. Effective - but slow.

Enter Cooliris Previews

Because I write these sorts of articles, I often get different free/shareware packages lobbed my way to look at. Sometimes, they're great. Other times, they leave much to be desired.

Cooliris Previews is one of those programs that was brought to my attention. It is basically an add-on for Firefox(and Safari) that allows you to preview the contents of a linked page without actually going to the link. It's an interesting concept and, as it turns out is rather useful when browsing through a long list of links, looking for a particular site or bit of information.

in this example, Cooliris is previewing our FireWire drive page from the highlighted link in the lower right (click image for larger view)

Simply mouse over the link and a window will pop up with the linked page in it for preview. If it's the one you're looking for, simply click one of the icons in the top bar and it loads in your browser. If it isn't, then mouse over the next link until you find what you're looking for.

Not all wine and roses.

It's a pretty good idea, in theory. In practice, though, it's not always the best. First, you're still downloading the page, so it still takes time - those of you on dial-up may find this somewhat arduous. Second, the preview window pops up over every link that you mouse over, so navigating a site you do know can be a little annoying. Fortunately, that behavior can be adjusted in the preferences. This brings me to the next problem - the documentation is somewhat lacking, so figuring out how to do anything requires you to go to their web site and navigate around to find the information you need. Finally, it is primarily a Firefox addition. While there is a version available for Safari users like myself, it is somewhat crippled compared to the Firefox version. While the many major sites, such as like Google, Yahoo and AOL, work with Safari, you don't have the global functionality it has with Firefox.

A good starting point.

In the interest of fairness, though, it is important to note that this software is currently a beta release and therefore somewhat incomplete. Once a final product is released, I expect that functionality will be greatly improved.

Over-all, though, Cooliris Previews is a useful tool. Once you get past the learning curve, it adds nicely to your web search and preview capabilities. It's got a lot of potential for a beta release!

Cooliris Preview (beta)
by Cooliris

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