Microsoft’s Internet Explorer continues to lag behind other Web browsers in providing tools for research. I revisited two free IE add-ons from the first half of this decade that can provide some enhancements to your Internet Explorer-based research. While they have some quirks and limitations that reflect their datedness, IE users may still find them worth trying. They are the basic version of Copernic’s Agent and Cogitum’s Co-Citer.
You may be familiar with the Copernic search tool, which is a commercial alternative to Google Desktop for indexing your local desktop and network content. Copernic Agent appears to have been developed through 2004, and is embedded in your Internet Explorer browser. It works like other toolbars for Internet Explorer (like the Google Toolbar) in that you enter a keyword and it returns results.
If that was all the Agent could do, there are plenty of other free toolbars available. But Copernic’s Agent runs as a standalone program, so that you can do Web searches from within their application or within your browser. If you run the query in Internet Explorer, you can then look at the results within the Copernic Agent application.
The basic (free) version offers a number of features that do not work unless you upgrade to a paid version. If you like what you see, it may be worth it. Some of the features that work within the free version are link verification (checks to see if the link returned in the search engine still works) and folder organization. You can store your results in folders, and get Copernic to grab and download the pages to your local computer.
This is a metasearch tool that returns results from search engines popular at the beginning of the decade: Fast, Yahoo!, and so on. It includes recently released engines like Cuil and Bing, but is notably missing Google. Similarly, social media search focuses on Twitter and MySpace, but not Facebook. Copernic will remember your searches, so that you can re-run them quickly, and the history is stored on the computer rather than on the Web, like Google’s Web history.
There are Personal and Professional versions of the Agent which you can purchase – here is a comparison chart of the three versions. Paid versions have features like removing duplicate results, and adding additional filtering categories. You can also use paid versions of Copernic Agent as to monitor Web pages for changes.
Internet Explorer users who have a jones for the Zotero add-on for Firefox can get a much watered down version of a citation manager in Cogitum’s free tool. Although it appears to have stopped development in 2002, it will enable you to grab text (and only text) from Web pages and store it in the Cogitum database. After you have installed the software, you will see a new entry on your Internet Explorer right-click menu. When you highlight text, you can grab the text and send it to Cogitum, where you can organize it in folders and annotate the links you have collected. If you highlight text and an image, Cogitum will only take in the text. Obviously, this is significantly limited in comparison to the other citation management tools available for Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, but it may enable you to do more than you can with Internet Explorer on its own.