Marshall Adult Education



TECH TIP:  StumbleUpon Toolbar


I am not big on Add-on Browser Toolbars. These toolbars are add-on utilities to Internet Explorer (or other internet browsers like Firefox).  Many search engines and websites now have their own toolbar.  There’s a Yahoo Toolbar, an AltaVista Toolbar, an MSN Toolbar, an Ask Toolbar, an AOL Toolbar, a Wikipedia Toolbar, A Merriam-Webster Toolbar, an ICQ Toolbar, an ESPN Toolbar … and about a zillion other toolbars.  Many of these toolbars may be useful, but you can see if you choose every toolbar out there, you won’t have any space on your screen for your web browsing.  So you need to pick carefully which toolbars you really want to use.


There are some really bad toolbars that you don’t ever want to get on your computer.  These are intrusive toolbars that spy on your internet browsing or interrupt your internet use with endless pop-up ads.  These toolbars are installed sometimes without you even knowing it by carelessly clicking on links on some web pages.   So beware of these types of toolbars.


OK – like I said, I am not a big fan of toolbars.  With all the toolbars available, I only use one – the Google Toolbar.  The Google Toolbar has been around for 6 years now – and it keeps getting better and better.  You can read a Tech Tip about the Google Toolbar here:

But keep in mind that this Tech Tip was written in July of 2005 and the Google Toolbar has gone through several revisions since then.  The current version of the Google Toolbar is Version 4.0.  If you want to choose just one toolbar (like me), get the Google Toolbar.  It’s the best!   It is available here:


Ok – so after all the rigamarole about using only one browser add-on toolbar, I am going to recommend another toolbar to try out.  I have downloaded it and added it to my Internet Explorer – and it is really cool!


The name of the toolbar is Stumble – or StumbleUpon.  StumbleUpon is a free program that gets added to your Internet Explorer – or to Firefox if you have made the switch to that browser.  When you download the software and install it, you select some preliminary topics of interest to you from nearly 500 topics.  You can later add more topics, as well as delete some of the topics you initially selected.


Stumble then becomes part of your browser as a toolbar.  It offers you a myriad of features that allows you to surf the internet for sites that are of particular interest to you based upon those interests that you selected.


To actually use the program, you simply click on the word Stumble in the toolbar and you are instantly sent to a website based upon your interests.  At each site that you “stumble” upon, you can rate the site with a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down.”  So you can surf or “stumble” to your hearts content – and the websites that you stumble upon are really cool.  The chances are, you will never find these sites by doing traditional searches with Google or some other search engine.


As you continue to surf (“stumble”) upon websites and rate them, the program continues to refine your preferences and give you more and more relevant sites according to your interests.  It’s kind of like the “Tivo” of web surfing – for those of you that use Tivo.  It learns about what you like and supplies you with that web content.  Rating pages improves your stumbles.  Rating just a few sites a day will further refine your preferences, matching you to more similar people and more interesting sites.  Very cool!


OK – that’s not all.  If you want, you can choose to interact with other StumbleUpon users.  You can email other users from within the application while keeping your anonymity.  You can comment on any website you stumble upon and build a social network as you surf.  Well, I haven’t done any of this stuff yet – but I have enjoyed surfing the net in a way that is non-threatening, relevant, and actually fun.


Now if you are nervous about adding things to your computer that will invade your privacy, be sure to read the StumbleUpon Privacy Policy.  They clearly state what they do and will not do with the information you give them.  And you actually give them very little information.


In the nutshell, this software will help you find interesting web pages you wouldn’t think to search for or have the time and patience to search for.  I recommend that you give this toolbar a try.  You can go to the StumbleUpon website and install the software on your computer.  If it is not all that it is cracked up to be, simply go to the Add/Remove Programs in the Control Panel and uninstall it.  You can also uninstall it directly from the Stumble Toolbar.  I have a feeling, though, that after you get it on your computer, you’ll never take it off!


Here is the StumbleUpon website – give it a try! 




Lyon County Government Center  •  607 W. Main St.  •  Marshall, MN 56258  •  (507) 537-7046

E-Mail:    Marshall Adult Education