Several weeks ago, Google launched a brand new Google tool bar in all its services. This new bar replaces the famous (or infamous?) black bar on top of all Google products, and includes a slick dropdown menu, a new Profile menu and a generally cleaner look.
Surprisingly, not everyone can enjoy the new bar yet. In a previous article, I explained how to enable the new bar by editing a cookie, which worked like a charm. But what if you don’t want to mess with that stuff? There are now some better and easier solutions which will get you that new shiny bar in a snap.
Aside from not letting everyone have it, Google also “forgot” to make the bar customizable. You can’t change the order, you can’t add or remove items – you’re basically stuck with what Google wants you to see. Here are two great ways to get the new Google bar, and to customize it exactly the way you want.
Big G Drop Down Sorter [Chrome] [No Longer Available]
This handy little Chrome extension will not only give you the ability to sort, add and remove items from the new Google bar, it will also make the bar itself appear if you don’t already have it.
This is what the Google bar menu looks like before changing anything. Not the most convenient thing in the world. Now, install Big G Drop Down Sorter, access any *.google.com domain, and behold the magic!
You can now easily drag and drop any item from the menu to change its position. You can also drag an item into the More section, or drag items from the More section into the main section.
And that’s not all. Are there items from the not-so-accessible “Even more” you would like to add to the toolbar? Big G Drop Down Sorter lets you do that too. Click on “Even more” to find new buttons added to every item on the list.
You can now easily add items from here to the dropdown menu. If you change your mind, you can remove the item from the toolbar from here as well.
Big G Drop Down Sorter is very easy to use, and has worked for me on Google Search, Google Reader, Gmail and Google+. Its only downside is that it only works on *.google.com domains (so if you use google.co.uk, for example, this won’t work), but that aside, this is a great answer to a huge oversight by Google (at least, I would like to think of it as an oversight).
Google Bar+ [Firefox & Chrome]
Google Bar+ is a user script which works on both Firefox and Chrome. Before installing it, you would need to install either Greasemonkey for Firefox or Tampermonkey for Chrome. After installing one of these, head over to the script’s homepage and click “Install”.
To start, if you don’t already have the new Google tool bar, this script will enable it. While not as smooth and easy to use as Big G, Google Bar+ offers some in-depth customization for the Google bar, including the ability to add entirely new items which are not Google related.
To change an item’s location, right-click on any item to open its edit window.
From here, you can choose a different pre-set button from the dropdown menu, and thus change this button into a different button (this basically changes a button’s location). Note that this does not switch between the two buttons, and you will end up with two of the same button. You will have to right click the second button and change that one over as well. From this window you can also change an item’s name, or create an entirely new item, complete with icon.
The icon part did not work perfectly for me every time, but it was very easy to add menu items of my own other than that.
The script also comes with an option called Thinbar. If you find the new bar overly bulky at the top, click the Profile menu and choose “Enable Thin Menu”.
This will change the entire thing into a more manageable size – a welcome change.
As you can see, my MakeUseOf icon does not appear exactly as it should, but this might be solved with some tweaking. Google Bar+ also comes with a built-in Google ad blocker, which you can also enable from the Profile menu.
All in all, Google Bar+ is a useful script, especially if you want to create custom buttons in the menu, or if you’re a Firefox user (until someone comes up with a Big G add-on for Firefox).
Do you know of more ways to customize the new Google tool bar? And what do you think of this new bar anyway? Share in the comments.