This guest article was written by Paige Eissinger from the Unofficial Google Gadget Blog
I can remember back when the big deal about Firefox vs IE was that Firefox had TABBED BROWSING. And just what was so cool about that? If you’re the type of surfer I am who likes to have multiple sites open at once, it was a royal pain to have to use the back button or click through open windows to go from site to site. I found out during a training class in HTML that Opera had always had tabbed browsing. Hey, I even used Opera before I tried Firefox, just because my instructor said it had tabbed browsing (and loaded fast).
What does this have to do with iGoogle? Everything. If you have your own iGoogle page, and you really should, then you know how easy it is to get overwhelmed with gadgets on your page, just like it was easy to get overwhelmed with too many open websites. Once again, tabs are here to save the day, or at least reduce gadget overload, by giving you the option to put your gadgets on different pages instead of all in one place. Tabs act as a table of contents that lists the name of each page (the title of the tab) and the gadgets that are on that page.
In case you don’t know, iGoogle is Google’s personalized homepage. It lets you take your favorite content from across the web and organize it all in one place. You can try it at http://www.google.com/ig
If you look at the left-hand side of your iGoogle page, you’ll notice a tab that’s labeled “Home” and has links underneath that open each of the gadgets you have on your homepage. Here’s what the Home tab looks like on the iGoogle homepage:
You can categorize your gadgets by adding a tab. Let’s say you’d like to put all of your productivity gadgets like your calendar, e-mail and to do list on one page. To add your first new tab, click the arrow to the right of Home on your Home tab and choose “Add a Tab” from the dropdown menu and open the “Add a tab” dialog window.
If you’ve used Google before (and who hasn’t), you’ll be familiar with the “I’m Feeling Lucky” option. If you know what type of tab you’d like to add but aren’t sure what gadgets to put on the page, let iGoogle do it for you. Just type in a search term, click the box next to “I’m feeling lucky…” and like magic, you have a new tab already populated with great gadgets.
Not only are tabs a great way to beat gadget overload by putting your gadgets on different pages, they also make it easy to navigate to the gadget you want to use by clicking on the tab (page) that contains the gadget or clicking on the name of the individual gadget listed on the tab to open the gadget page. Once you’ve created one new tab, you can create more by clicking the arrow to the right of the tab that’s currently open. You can also add and remove gadgets, change the theme of your iGoogle pages and even change the layout of the page by clicking “Edit this tab” to open the Preferences dialog window.
If you think somebody else might like your tabs, you can send the tabs to them by choosing the Share this tab option from the dropdown menu to the right of the tab you want to share (the same one you used to Add a Tab). This option allows you to share some or all of the gadgets on the tabbed page with others. Just check the box next to each gadget you want to share and enter the email addresses of the people with whom you want to share. Make sure you include a message letting them know how the gadgets have helped you! You can also receive a copy of the email you send by checking the “Send me a copy…” option.
What sorts of tabs might you be interested in adding besides your Home tab? On my own personal iGoogle page, I have tabs for Productivity Tools, News, Music and Contacts.
I work from home and it’s a real challenge to manage my time productively, especially when my cats, Trillian and Puff, are pretending to nap on my desk. I say pretending because they have no problem reaching out a paw now and then to remind me that they’re there. Having my Gmail, Google Calendar and To Do List right in front of me helps me stay on track. I use the Todoist gadget from Amir Salifendic to list my tasks and check them off.
I also like to keep up with the news, so I have a tabbed page that contains my favorite news sources. I always check my Google Reader first thing. Other favorite news gadgets include NPR and USAToday. I also like to keep up with technology and entertainment news so I have gadgets for PC World’s Top Technology News and Yahoo Entertainment News.
Music is a big part of my life. I play bass guitar in Diezelfitter, a blues band I started with my guitar playing husband, Rick, so of course I have to have a tabbed music page. We’re constantly looking for lyrics online and having the Lyrics Search gadget available right in iGoogle makes it a lot easier. I also like to check out the latest music videos so I have the You Tube and Yahoo Music Video gadgets on my Music page, too.
Since I like to keep up with friends, colleagues and family, I created a tab for Contacts. I used the “I’m feeling lucky…” option to magically create a contact page already populated with gadgets. Now I can see my Gmail contacts (Gmail Contact Manager gadget), my GoogleTalk (GoogleTalk gadget) contacts, and even my Twitter friends all on one page!
I’d like to think I’m going to be much more organized now that I’ve added tabs to my iGoogle page but that means I’m also going to have to ignore those little paws when they reach out for my attention. Hmmmmm, I wonder if there’s a gadget I can add to entertain the girls?