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PC World - Google's search, mail, maps, and cloud services are practically de facto public utilities. Fire up your browser, and there Google is. But don't take Google for granted--there's much more to its core services than meets the eye.
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With this toolbox of tips, usability tricks, and third-party services, you can rule the Google universe and bend it to your will. The following will help you keep your privacy, fix Google annoyances, and get the most out of automation (so you can waste your time doing other things online).
Search privately: Startpage (also known as Ixquick) is an alternative to Google's search page that lets you use Google's search engine but doesn't send Google your IP address or allow cookies to be placed on your computer. Startpage can also stop embarrassing ads based on previous searches from haunting you across the Web. If you want private results from multiple search engines, also try DuckDuckGo, which excludes Google results but has similar privacy-oriented features.
Block Google tracking beyond just search: The handy service Disconnect works across all websites you visit. Available as a browser extension, it disables tracking by parties such as Google, Facebook, and Digg.
Compared with the Do Not Track features currently built into browsers, Disconnect gives you more protection. Although Firefox, Internet Explorer (9 and 10), and Safari have Do Not Track privacy options that you can enable,A website implementation of the feature is voluntary--which means there's no guarantee it will work for many sites. Disconnect, on the other hand, works on all sites no matter what.
Answer questions for lazy friends: The next time a relative or buddy emails a question that he or she could easily answer with a simple Google search, whip out Let Me Google That for You. Simply type the query in the box, and share the link from the text field underneath. Your friend will see how typing the query in Google can yield results without bothering you. It's a learning experience for the disconnected.
Start Chrome in Incognito mode every time you launch the browser: To start Chrome in its private-browsing Incognito mode, right-click the Chrome shortcut icon on your desktop, select Properties, and in the Target field add --incognito to the end of the program path. Make sure to put a space between the final quotation mark in the existing text string and the hyphen you insert, and you're good to go. (See the screenshot for an example.)
Check multiple Google Mail accounts at once: Checker Plus for Gmail lets you monitor your inboxes from a single place, without even having a tab open. Once you install this Chrome extension, it automatically detects Google accounts to which you are signed in. From an icon next to the omnibar, you can then see new email messages at a glance across your accounts. Checker Plus includes sound notifications, and it can even run in the background when Chrome is closed, so you never miss incoming mail. You can read, delete, archive, or mark email as read; when you need to reply or to compose new messages, however,A Checker Plus will open a new Gmail window.
Originally published on www.pcworld.com. Click here to read the original story.