Recently, the Bing Search team released the Bing Bar which places the Bing Search capabilities into your browser tool bar for easy searching of Bing and its different search facets – Web, Images, Videos, Shopping, News, Travel and, of course Maps (see Bing: Connecting People, Places and Things for full details). I wanted to clarify the functionality and where exactly to find Maps since I’ve had a couple people tell me Bing Maps is not included; however, it actually is. Once you install the Bing Bar, you’ll see the personalization features – News, Hotmail, Autofill, Weather, Stocks, Video and Private.
Since these are what appear when you first load the tool bar you may be thinking, “Where are the Search features??” So, you look in the options and get lost daydreaming in the different colors and themes available with the bar. Then maybe you complete the Autofill form to make it easier when you filling out forms online; and, suddenly you realize there’s no options for Maps! The trick is going to make you laugh and this is what I’ve told people how to search for Maps…just do a search. “But, there’s no maps options!” Just do a search. “But, I want to search Bing Maps!” JUST DO A SEARCH!
Upon clicking in the search box in the Bing Bar, you’ll see the different Bing Search types magically appear and from there you can specify that you want Bing Maps (or, any of the other search types). The first time I used it I was frustrated too; but, that’s only because I was so used to how toolbars had previously been created. This design makes it easier to add more buttons to the Bing Bar without crowding up your browser and stealing valuable real estate from the web sites you want to view.
Hopefully, by now you know what Accelerators are. If you don’t, I bet you’ve been using them and just don’t know they’re called Accelerators. Accelerators are those handy little arrows that popup when you highlight text on a web page then accelerator your next search query. The idea is to easy search for more information given a specific topic. For Maps, you can be on any web page, highlight a location, click the arrow, select “All Accelerators,” then hover over “Map with Bing.” A map will popup for you right there. If you want to dive deeper and see an aerial view, Bird’s Eye or get a bigger map you can either click the “Map” or “Directions” links under the map or click “Map with Bing” instead of just hovering over it.
I recently installed the Google Toolbar to compare features and it totally wiped out my personalized settings for using Bing Accelerators and didn’t even tell me it was going to take over my whole search experience…thanks for that. So, I figured I would give you a little detail on how to change your accelerators back to Bing in the case that you too make this mistake. Now, when you install the Bing Bar your accelerators will be set to Bing (assuming you don’t have other toolbars installed). If you want to change your accelerators to use Bing instead of someone else’s who has decided to hijack your search experience without warning, you can simply go to the “Manage Addons” Menu under the “Tools” menu. From there you can set your preferences or uninstall certain accelerators altogether.
Download the Bing Bar and you’ll be all setup to maximize your use of Bing Maps (and everything else Bing).
CP – Follow me on Twitter @ChrisPendleton