How-to: Preview search results in Google, Bing

If all the text on a search results page is overloading your brain, this free Firefox add-on brings relief in the form of thumbnail previews.

We all know the mathematical adage detailing how many words a picture is worth. The principal applies equally to search results. Search for anything in Google, Bing, and Yahoo and see how long it takes your eyes and brain to max out on all the written input. (The concept of text fatigue also applies to blog posts, which is why we've included a nice, large picture near the top of ours.)

SearchPreview in Bing

If you browse the Web with Firefox (Windows | Mac), the free extension SearchPreview (Windows | Mac) breaks up text blocks by inserting thumbnail images of the site's homepage to the left of the text, where your eye naturally goes. If you're unsure which of the many returned links you really want, a glance at the thumbnails could settle the dispute.

If the thumbnail image scenario sounds familiar, that's because until recently SearchPreview has been known as GooglePreview. An upgrade to version 4.0 added support for Microsoft's Bing search engine and repositioned the product with a name change.

As you use SearchPreview, you may notice some results tagged as SearchPreview's sponsored links. These are the developer's way of recouping costs, but you can disable the sponsored results from the Options menu of the add-ons manager.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.