Google’s black bar that appears at the top of all its services is a convenient way to quickly access the major Google Services you use, but it isn’t necessarily loved by everyone. It’s safe to say that some users find it both ugly and distracting since your Google Plus updates are always there to divert your attention from the task on hand. There are also those who find the black bar indispensable, and you might even find some complaining about the bar not being omnipresent across the internet. Google Shortcuts is a Firefox add-on that fixes this; it provides you with Google Services’ buttons that you can place in your URL bar. Users choose which buttons will appear there, so that they aren’t bothered with services they don’t use. Provided you’re signed in to your Google account, your Google Drive, Calendar, and mail become just a click away.
Install Google Shortcuts and open the ‘Customize’ window from your tabs’ bar to drag out the buttons you need. Google Shortcuts has buttons for Gmail, YouTube, Google Chat (you must have the plugin installed), Google Plus, Orkut, Google Code, Google Alerts, Google Finance, Google Trends, Google Scholar, Google Blog Search, Google Groups, Blogger, Google Cloud Print, Google Maps, and a lot more. The buttons are all shortcuts and will not log you into a Google service by themselves, nor save your password.
The best thing about Google Shortcuts is that it does not add a new bar to either your browser or at the top of every web page you visit. We have come across (and duly ignored) extensions and apps that make the bar omnipresent because all such toolbars – regardless of what they do – tax your screen area.
It is true that add-ons for shortcuts to some of these less popular services are hard to find (or don’t exist altogether), and it is also entirely true that in the absence of Google Shortcuts, you might need several add-ons to get all the shortcuts you need in the tabs’ bar. However, we’re not sure the add-on is doing enough by just giving users shortcuts to services. The developer should consider adding support for signing in to Google accounts for you as well – and especially multiple accounts at that. We’re thinking something along the lines of the Google Multi-Account Launcher extension for Chrome that we reviewed early in February.
If you would like to have the services appear on their very own toolbar, you can always add one from Firefox’s Customize menu. The add-on’s options allow you to select/deselect the buttons that will be visible, but they don’t seem to be responding. The add-on is new, so a few bugs here and there are to be expected.