Great Personalized Start Pages: 6 Alternatives To iGoogle

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alternatives to igoogleIf you’ve not yet heard, Google plans to pull the plug on iGoogle in November 2013 in addition to a few other services like Google Video and Google Mini. Though the company have yet to announce a viable alternative for those who still use the service, comparable start pages do exist.

The best replacement depends entirely on how you use the service, whether it’s for a brief glance at the news and weather before starting a browsing session or as a full blown RSS and social media reader with widgets for everything under the sun. After much time trawling through countless start page services I’ve narrowed it down to this list of six.

If you’ve got your own personal favourite alternative to iGoogle or a particularly strong opinion about the news of the closure then be sure to add your thoughts in the comments, at the end of this post.

Netvibes

Probably the most complete solution for iGoogle refugees, Netvibes really does have a widget for just about anything you could ever want. Read your email, browse the news, single out an RSS feed, view images, update Twitter – the list is (nearly) endless. This is all possible from a free account, and you can even create your dashboard without having to forfeit your email address and sign up.

alternatives to igoogle

There is an easy to miss button at the top of the screen for toggling between “widget” and “reader” mode, while services can be split across multiple tabs in order to keep some sort of order. The premium service provides some very powerful tools for analysing trends and monitoring online activity in real-time, and at $499 per month for a single user it sure is a “premium” service.

The free option will be suitable for most of us though, and it’s the perfect (and most powerful) alternative to iGoogle.

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uStart

Not far behind Netvibes in terms of functionality, uStart also provides a hugely customisable start page from which to start any browsing session. Widgets can be added, feeds can be monitored and themes can be applied to really make it feel like your own corner of the web, though it’s not quite as advanced or pleasing to the eye as Netvibes in my opinion.

best igoogle alternative

Much like Netvibes, you don’t have to sign up in order to test it out and you can build your whole dashboard before deciding if it’s right for you. You can also separate your widgets across multiple tabs, and make use of the in-built RSS reader which is pretty nifty.

Protopage

A similar service to Netvibes and uStart, Protopage is a worthy replacement for iGoogle, though it requires a little more work than the other two in order to get it looking good. Much of the functionality of the aforementioned start pages is there in addition to theming options which allow you to specify your own background and colours (which you’ll be wanting to do).

best igoogle alternative

Protopage feels a little more cluttered than the other two and lacks a dedicated RSS reader, opting instead for individual feed widgets (which can include multiple sources). You can try before registering, and by default the service provides you with a home tab packed with news sources, a bookmarks tab and a notes tab – though I’d recommend deleting it all and starting from scratch if you’re going to use this one.

Spaaze

Spaaze is a little different to the rest of the services mentioned here in that it bills itself as a never-ending virtual corkboard and doesn’t come with hundreds of widgets to drag and drop. The corkboard itself allows you to scroll in any direction, and at any time you can bring up a “map” which allows you to quickly jump to any specific section – it’s a bit like the failed GridOS Android skin.

best igoogle alternative

Much of the functionality comes in the form of HTML code snippets which allow you to add things like Google Gadgets or Twitter widgets to your corkboard in addition to bookmarks, labels, notes and YouTube or Vimeo videos. Much of Spaaze is free, with a prepaid system for upgrades as and when you want them.

My Yahoo!

Forgotten by many, Yahoo! also has its own iGoogle-like service entitled My Yahoo!. It too allows for complete customisation of content and appearance, even to the point of being able to move the mandatory advertising widget to wherever you want it (yes, really). Much of what iGoogle offers is available here too, albeit with a decidedly Yahoo! twist.

igoogle alternatives

There are a selection of widgets to search through and add, though the list is a little empty compared to Netvibes, uStart and Protopage. The supplied themes are really quite similar to those you might already be using on your iGoogle page with further layout options and multiple tabs for separating content. It’s easy to see how iGoogle crept ahead, but My Yahoo! might still be up to the task for some.

Symbaloo

Slightly different again, Symbaloo is more of a bookmark resource (with a twist) than a traditional iGoogle-style start page. There is support for RSS feeds and some inbuilt interactive widgets like weather, various social media accounts and a mail checker to name but a few, though it’s all contained within the simple tiled interface seen in the screenshot below.

alternatives to igoogle

Each set of tiles is known as a “webmix” and each is added to a public gallery of webmixes created by other users. You can easily and quickly add a list of websites someone has already constructed to a new tab, create your own personalised one from scratch or a mixture of the two. Part bookmark tool, part newsreader and part discovery tool, Symbaloo supports much of what iGoogle does albeit from a different type of interface.

Conclusion

If none of these cut the mustard then you could always settle for Chrome’s default start page and some web store apps. As for web-based services, the most feature packed is probably Netvibes, and it should make the transition from iGoogle very smooth for some of you.

If you’ve got any particular favourites or anger to vent at Google’s decision then add your thoughts in the comments, below!

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Comments (70)
  • Ben

    I’ve been trying out the free Netvibes for about a week or so. I tried a couple of others and was dissappointed. Anyway, So far I’m kinda liking it. I like that I could add
    not only web based e-mails apps, but also the email provided by my ISP. It was a bit tricky to set up but all is good and it’s right in front of me. I also added the Google Calendar, a couple of news feeds (Yahoo and CNN) along with a mediocre weather app (which I’m still looking for a better one) There are 900 or so pages of themes or you can make your own. I can also access the page from any browser and make it my start page.
    All in all I’m pretty happy. There is also alot of help for netvibes on the web along with a forum.
    that my 2 cents

  • seb

    Not listed here, but I like the simplicity and multi-device support (iPhone, iPad) of Iguzu. Check it out at http://www.iguzu.com

  • Marc Aguilar

    I would prefer using http://www.yourls.com because its simple to use, very organized.

  • Edie Shack

    Thanks for the suggestions. Ustart turned out to be just what I wanted, very close in appearance and function to iGoogle and possible superior.

  • dccampfin

    Tim, can’t thank you enough for starting this discussion. I’ve been using igoogle for a long time, with top news, boookmarks, google maps (My Places), google translate, weather for several cities, google reader, blogger, Gmail, other email accounts, currency exchange, and about a dozen other modules. My only gripe was never being able to have Google Sites as a module that could be in one of my two igoogle pages.

    I’d seen netvibes, and even emailed them about their pricing structure that looked silly to me. Not sure that it can do everything I want, so I will try out a couple of others – right now protopage and nollr (when they let me in for a beta test). Neither of these were familiar to me before your piece. I’m less interested in the ones that are mostly bookmarks and more for ones that allow full content on the page rather than than opening another page, and have easy addition of gadgets/modules of many stripes.

    Last, and hardest, is how to gauge which of these is most likely to last more than a year. I’ve already been subject to more than one application I liked being absorbed by Google and then shut down. This is a feature of the new economy – it used to be that one never thought how long a company would be around when buying a product. Now, before I get too harnessed to something I try to make some kind of judgment about the viability of a company, usually not based on nearly enough data!

    Anyway, thanks again.

    • Tim Brookes

      I’m glad the article has helped you out! When you do find an iGoogle replacement that suits your needs, do stop by again and tell us what you’ve chosen and why! :)

      NetVibes seems to be the best from my perspective, and while the pricing is a little silly the free account should do everything the average user needs.

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This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.