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Google goes browsing by name

Toolbar now lets users navigate the web without using URLs

In its constant quest to court web surfers, Google added a new feature to its toolbar this week that allows users to navigate the web by typing in a name instead of a URL.

With the new Browse By Name feature, users of the Google's Toolbar can, for example, type "Grand Canyon" into their Internet Explorer browser window and land on the Grand Canyon homepage without having to type the somewhat cumbersome www.nps.gov/grca/ URL for the national park.

If users type in name that isn't specific or well recognised, the toolbar automatically performs a Google search on the subject, giving users a choice of destinations to choose from, the company says.

Typing "bicycles" in the browser window, for instance, brought up a litany of bicycle-related search results. Google says that the tool is aimed at helping users save time when browsing the web.

Using the browser window as a convenient search bar may not always be the approach when searching for general terms, however, because the most specific or obvious destinations tend to appear first. Typing "apple" takes users directly to Apple Computer's homepage, for instance, and does not bring up results on your favourite fruit.

Google's Toolbar automatically updates to include new features without users having to install new versions, though as of Thursday, not all users had received the update.

A spokesperson for the company in London says that it would take a few days for the update to be delivered to all toolbar users, and recommends that users hungry for the new feature uninstall their toolbar and reinstall the updated version for Google's site.

The new Browse By Name feature is available in 12 languages, including French, Russian, German, Italian, Chinese and Japanese, Google says.

The toolbar update is just the latest tool introduced by the search company, which has been rolling out new products and services at a clipped rate over the last year, as it prepares for a much anticipated IPO.

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