Saturday, April 25, 2009

Spice Up Your Image Searches with Cooliris

If you haven't yet tried Cooliris to search for images and videos, you are in for a treat. Cooliris is a free and easy to use plug-in for Firefox (Windows XP/Vista, Mac, and Linux), Internet Explorer, and Safari (Mac), which "transforms your browser into a lightning fast, cinematic way to browse online photos and videos." The "3D Wall" interface provides a gorgeous and seamless way to scroll through thousands of search results from the Web or images stored on your own computer.

Cooliris works with hundreds of Web sites. These include image search sites like Google Images, Yahoo Images, and Ask Images; photo sharing sites such as Flickr, Picasa, Photobucket, and deviantART; professional stock photo sites including Getty Images and iStockphoto; video sites like YouTube; social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Bebo; and many others.

After installing Cooliris, there are two ways main ways to launch it. You can visit a supported site directly and perform a search. Here you may mouseover images or videos in search results and click on the Cooliris icon that appears; this takes you to your search results in the Cooliris 3D Wall environment. Or you may simply click on the Cooliris icon on your browser's toolbar and perform a search within Cooliris.

Once in Cooliris, a search box allows you to repeat a search in selected sites like Google, Flickr, Picasa, and YouTube. An option to search "My Computer" is a new and much anticipated feature. A Preferences menu lets you customize Wall and Slideshow settings.
While creating and logging on to a Cooliris account is not necessary, you can e-mail others about images you find and save favorite images for future reference.

There are some features that I hope Cooliris will incorporate soon. A
built-in save function is not yet available. In the meantime, Cooliris provides a quick link to each image's source page, where you can easily save the image to your computer as permitted. An advanced search feature within Cooliris would also be useful. For now, you can conduct a search for large images in Google, for example, and then launch Cooliris to quickly scroll through those results.

More information about features and compatibility can be found here. The Self-Help page also provides six ways to optimize the functionality of Cooliris.

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