Installing Yahoo Toolbar was easy in our tests; it took us less than a minute to download and run the install program (0.4MB for the toolbar only or 3MB for the toolbar and Yahoo's Anti-Spy utility). Once the toolbar is installed, you'll need to either sign in to your Yahoo account or register for one--a minor inconvenience. Once inside, you're then taken to a Web page where you can choose from literally dozens of buttons and services. You can reorder the buttons in any way you want (most toolbars don't give you that flexibility) and view icons and text or icons only--impressive. Our sole complaint is that you can't resize the smallish search box.
Yahoo Toolbar serves up a generous variety of search types, including the Web, current site, images, local services, news, products, maps, Yellow Pages, directory, stock quotes, and movie showtimes, each using specific Yahoo search services rather than tacking "news on" or "maps of" onto a search. All that's missing from the list is the weather, and while an optional weather toolbar button is available, you will have to enter a city or a zip code in the Web page. You also get a garden-variety highlighter that calls out where your search results appear on a given page.
Yahoo Toolbar's most impressive extra feature is Anti-Spy, a spyware killer that scans your hard drive for annoying or nosy apps. The scan took just a few minutes on our 60GB hard drive, and it reports back with a list of dangerous files, suspicious items, and files to keep an eye on. Also making the grade is Yahoo's pop-up blocker, which is the only one we've seen that lets you view recently blocked pop-ups. We appreciated the wide range of toolbar buttons taking you to Yahoo features such as the briefcase, address book, and notepad, although we wish the Yahoo Mail button would tell you when new mail arrives. Finally, the toolbar will keep track of bookmarks (even if you sign on from another PC) and import those you have stored in IE or Netscape. What put Yahoo over Google, however, was its ability to view favorite browser bookmarks from any PC, something we think is really cool.
In our on-the-Web search test, Yahoo landed at the top of the heap for sheer volume of search hits, besting AltaVista, Google, Ask Jeeves, A9, HotBot, and MSN. In terms of relevancy, Yahoo scored in the middle of the pack, behind Google, A9 and HotBot (who tied), and AltaVista. Yahoo scored well with financial results; it returned the best results on our query for the pharmaceutical company Merck.