Science

Google adds history tracking to search engine

A new feature for Google Inc.'s search engine lets users browse, retrieve and search web pages that they have previously visited, without having to open their web browser's history file.

A new feature for Google Inc.'s search engine lets users browse, retrieve and search web pages that they have previously visited, without having to open their web browser's history file.

"If you remember seeing something online, you'll be able to find it faster and from any computer with Web History," Payam Shodjai, Google's product manager for personalization, wrote in a post to the Google blog late Thursday. "It's your slice of the web, at your fingertips."

Google account holders who have installed the Google Toolbar in their web browsers can sign in to the Web History function to allow the internet search giant to keep a running log of sites and individual pages that they visit.

The feature works in a manner similar to the way in which web browsing softwarelike Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Mozilla's Firefox, and Opera do, recording a list of pages that have been opened. However, unlike a web browser, the data is stored on Google's servers, and users can gain access to the information from any computer with an internet connection and a web browser.

Users can then click on a calendar on the right side of the Web History page to browse, view and search pages visited on a particular day. They can also browse by categories listed on the left side of the page, which include:

  • Web.
  • Images.
  • News.
  • Froogle (Google's online shopping search service).
  • Sponsored Links.
  • Video.
  • Maps.
  • Music.

Individual items in the web browsing history can be bookmarked for faster retrieval.

People can use the aggregated information to see trends in their online activities compiled for them by Google, such as top searches, your most visited websites, daily activity and more.

Users also can pause the tracking to temporarily prevent their online activities from being recorded, or follow their history on the fly through a personal RSS feed.

RSS — short for Really Simple Syndication, Rich Site Summary or RDF (Resource Definition Format) Site Summary — is a technology used to compile and publish information in a standardized format online or through a computer or web-based program called a feed reader or aggregator.

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