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Go fast on the Web with IE8 Accelerators

Accelerators can shave tons of time off your everyday browser tasks. Greg Shultz introduces this feature and explains how to get the most out of it.

I've been using Windows 7 Ultimate exclusively on my laptop for close to five months and now find it more and more difficult to go back to my Vista Ultimate desktop, where I do most of my work. My desktop is a very responsive system, and I've not had many problems with Vista. A glitch here and there, but no show stoppers. However, after using Windows 7, Windows Vista leaves a bit to be desired.

One thing I have really grown to love in Windows 7 is Internet Explorer 8 and the Accelerators feature. While Internet Explorer 8 has been available for some time now, I have resisted putting it on my Vista system for purist motives. The other day, I caved in and added Internet Explorer 8 to my main Vista system. Boy, am I ever glad that I did, because I never realized how handy the Accelerators feature was until I began using it more regularly.

In this edition of the Windows Vista and Windows 7 Report, I'll explore Internet Explorer 8's Accelerators feature and show you how to get the most out of it.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

What are Accelerators?

Accelerators do just what their name implies -- they accelerate your ability to gain access to the various types of Web-based searches you use every day. You just highlight the text you are interested in, click the Accelerators icon, and off you go.

For example, the default Accelerators will allow you to quickly send a term to a search engine or a translator site, send a paragraph to your blog or via e-mail, or send an address to a mapping engine.

While the preconfigured Accelerators are, of course, all Microsoft related, they are by no means all that's out there. Hundreds of third-party Accelerators are available for you to choose from.

Let's take a look at how you can take advantage of some of the preconfigured Accelerators. Then, we'll look at adding and managing Accelerators.

Using the preconfigured Accelerators

The best way to explain how and what Accelerators are all about is to just jump in. So, let's suppose that you are looking for a new job and you come across a great sounding position in a city you are not familiar with. To find out where it is, you first highlight the name of the city. You'll then see the Accelerators icon. When you click it, the list of Accelerators will appear. Just point to the Map with Live Search Accelerator item and a small map will pop up, as shown in Figure A. If you want more detail, click the little map and a larger map will appear on a new tab.

Figure A

The Map with Live Search Accelerator will instantly show you a map, which is actually provided by Bing, of the selected city.
As another example, suppose that you are reading about the new Beatles Rock Band game and want to learn more about the Beatles. Just highlight The Beatles, click the Accelerators icon, and then click the Search with Live Search Accelerator item, as shown in Figure B. A new tab will appear and display the search results, provided by Bing.

Figure B

You can instantly search for any term you see using the Search with Live Search Accelerator.

As you can see, this Accelerator saves you multiple steps. No more copying the text, opening a new tab, accessing the search engine, pasting the text, and clicking the search button.

Adding Accelerators

As I mentioned earlier, there are hundreds of third-party Accelerators available for you to choose from, and you can replace the preconfigured Accelerators with those for your favorite sites. To access the list of Accelerators, open the All Accelerators submenu and select the Find More Accelerators command, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

You'll find the Find More Accelerators command on the All Accelerators submenu.
Once you select the command, a new tab will open and the Internet Explorer 8 Add-ons Gallery: Accelerators page will appear, as shown in Figure D. You can then locate the Accelerators you want to use and install then simply by clicking the Add to Internet Explorer button.

Figure D

You can find hundreds of third-party Accelerators on the Internet Explorer 8 Add-ons Gallery: Accelerators page.

Configuring Accelerators

If you choose the Manage Accelerators command on the All Accelerators submenu, you'll see the Manage Add-ons dialog box with the Accelerators Add-on Type selected, as shown in Figure E. Here, you can remove Accelerators, disable Accelerators, and set the default Accelerator for each category.

Figure E

From the Manage Add-ons dialog box, you can alter the selected Accelerators.

Document-only Accelerators

Although the majority of the Accelerators are designed to function with selected text, some are designed to function only with the entire page or document. So if you add an Accelerator to IE8 but don't see it on the Accelerator list when you select some text, try right-clicking on the page itself. If the Accelerator is designed to function with the document, you'll find the Accelerator item on that menu instead.

What's your take?

Have you used the Accelerators feature? If so, which ones are your favorites? If you have any questions or comments concerning the Accelerators feature, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

15 comments
johnbrockbank
johnbrockbank

I lookad at the article strongly recommending the IE accelerators becuse It rather promised faster web browsing. What I had been doing was to highlight text, Ctrl C and then Ctrl V in the search box. That seems a lot faster than opening tabs, clicking on buttons etc. Accelerators are just another feature added because reviewers write about features as though they add something to a product. From a tech page I rather expect a knowledgeable article, giving facts, not a puff piece.

juntunen
juntunen

with installed search bars? I have had to deal with several systems, I believe all XP, that the only way to keep IE8 from locking up was to remove the search bar or remove IE8.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

An accelerator is a way of quickly pasting text directly to another web site?

jazzy5
jazzy5

I have IE-8 but I do not see any acelerator icon. Where is it? Do I have to set it up and how.

alexraj84
alexraj84

it is a great way of browsing the web

chriswong
chriswong

This is just a great feature. Especially the Preview (mouseover) functionality in the Bing accelerators. I wish that Google would add the Preview functionality to all of their Accelerators...

QA_In_Vegas
QA_In_Vegas

You can map, email, research, and of course do the copy/paste thing. I've been using them just a couple weeks and already its been a snippet time saver here and there. But its not just the time savings, its the accuracy (less prone to human error) and, yeah, a bit of the coolness factor. :)

alexisgarcia72
alexisgarcia72

I installed IE8 in 5 different pcs. IE8 Screw up XP in all computers.... I will avoid IE8 for now at all!

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...highlight some text on a Web page and you'll see the Accellerator icon. There should be no setup or configuration involved.

1bn0
1bn0

crap. i mean accelerators. Firsts. This appears to me to be a Classica example of "Abuse of monopoly position". Again! Every user that opens IE 8 afte it is installed has to anser bunch of stupid questions about utsing the accelerators and "setting" the pre existing search provider. Just selecting all defaults sets everything back to Microsoft Search and Accelerators settings. I use Google. Period. I don't want that crap on the systems at all. And No. I don't want to have to downlaod the IE developer Kit and build a custom load for IE8 to get rid of a headache I shouldn't have to deal with in the first place. Microsoft still can't convince themselves that there is any difference between the Home and Pro/Business) versions of Windows. There default mode is "how can we force everyonme using a Windows computer to use Microsfot Search and Microsoft add-ons for EVERYTHING. Weither they want to or not. Opera has had a "Search" and "Search Using" option on the right click menu for several versions. These Microsoft add-ins are again a dollar and a day late. SImply another vehicle to enforce the illegal Monopoly using a method they haven't been charge for so they can pretend surprise when someone fimally gets around to filing a complaint.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

isn't enough for me to use IE8. I just can't get comfortable with it. I dislike the arrangement of the tool and menu bars, and they're locked in and unchangeable. A new tab takes longer to open in IE than one in FF. It's not worth it to me.

Nsaf
Nsaf

I don't think you Google, Linux, and Apple fan boys know what you are talking about. Why using a product you don't like???

topinambour
topinambour

Do you think that Google is not in a monopoly position in the search engines business and doesn't make money with the information you provide in your searches and in your messages using Gmail ?

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

love seeing what you browse for! They Love it!