Whether you're looking for the latest headlines, checking out video clips or conversing with colleagues via email or instant messaging, the internet offers everything you need at the touch of a button. Finding your way through the mass of information it provides, however, can be a full-time job.
On any given day, my web browser has multiple tabs open as I flick back and forth between checking emails, news headlines, RSS feeds and even the weather. As a journalist, I need to know everything that's going on - and all of this flicking between pages is far from efficient.
iGoogle is my lifeline. This service provides a personalised home page, customisable with ‘gadgets' that provide snippets of information and one-touch access to the website or online service in question.
The basic home page features four gadgets: the time and date, the weather, a CNN RSS feed and a YouTube gadget. But iGoogle offers many more gadgets that you can add (and then remove if they're not relevant to you), covering a wide range of topics. From tools such as the Gmail gadget, which previews the messages in your inbox, and a ToDo list, where you can enter the tasks for the day, to news feeds and fun applications, you're sure to find something to suit your needs.
It's even possible to create your own gadgets and make them available for others to download. Create one with your favourite photos or daily activities, for example, and your friends and family will be able to see this information on their iGoogle home pages.
You don't need to sign up for a Gmail account to use iGoogle gadgets, but doing so will allow you to access Gmail Groups, Google Reader and other Google services - as well as their individual iGoogle gadgets. This will enable you to display up-to-date information from all the online services you use in one place.
1. Head to google.com/ig. If you've got a Gmail account, sign in. If you don't already have one, registering will allow you to install more useful gadgets. The standard home page has a few gadgets, including the weather, the time and date, CNN news feeds and a YouTube search facility.
2. Click ‘Add a theme' at the bottom of the home page. Using the links on the left, scroll though the site's most popular themes. Alternatively, search for a particular theme using the box on the right. Once you've found a theme you like, click the ‘Add it now' button underneath the theme's thumbnail.