Although I am not enamored of either rodents or arachnids, when I search the Web I do want help from such critters–especially if they’re free. WebFerret lets you search multiple engines from a single query– a quick and convenient way to search the Web from your desktop. Created by a company called FerretSoft, WebFerret is one tool in their set of meta-search tools that specialize in finding different types of information. The WebFerret searches 11 search engines with speed, bringing back up to 500 results in a browser window. You can set the Ferret to match all or any keywords, or you can search for a phrase by enclosing it in quotation marks. Duplicate results are discarded and you can select whether to query all 11 engines or just some. One useful feature is that it’s not necessary to wait for all the results to load before you can go off and explore the pages it returns. For best results, try to use keywords that uniquely describe, or are as specific as possible to the topic for which you’re looking. Also, keep in mind that WebFerret prefers to find the keyword in the title of the Web page rather than somewhere in the real text. There’s also an e-mail Ferret, a file Ferret, and a phone Ferret among others. The WebFerret is not magical. It won’t help you find that perfect candidate. It doesn’t support Boolean queries, so it’s not well-suited to specific searching. What it does do, though, is save you the hassle of querying each engine individually and it lets you work on another application while the search takes place. So, if you’re multi-tasking and want to save a bit of searching time, give it a try. The download is fast and the cost is free. The Pro version, which does allow Boolean searches and has other powerful features, is available at a nominal price. Serious users can opt to purchase a “Power User Pack,” which includes WebFerretPRO and its six sidekicks: EmailFerretPRO, FileFerretPRO, IRCFerretPRO, PhoneFerretPRO, NewsFerretPRO, and InfoFerretPRO. Try the freeware version and decide from there. Happy hunting. Next week: “The Spider is a Mole”
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