There are a great many web tools out there that can enhance you web browsing experience. Today I’m talking about link-preview displays that allow you to preview a website (usually in a 640 x 480 pop-up window) without actually having to visit the link. The big three that I’ve used so far are Browster, Cooliris, and Snap Preview Anywhere:
Browster was one of the first I used in both Internet Explorer and Firefox. It was fast and worked as advertised: just hover over the tiny lighting icon next to a link and you’re off. If you’re reading a page with lots of links in the text this feature may annoy as Browster will open preview windows as fast as the mouse hovers over them—it got too distracting for me so I disabled it and moved on to Cooliris. However, there’s a new 2.0 version of Browster available so I’ll give it another shot and see how it plays.
Cooliris also works in both IE and Firefox and has more options available but it is not as fast in popping the preview as Browster. If you use Firefox the Cooliris options button resides in the status bar (lower right-hand corner) where you can change your options on how the preview is displayed. Once you go on preview mode you can e-mail the page you’re viewing, open the page in a tab, or lock the preview window in place. To close the preview simply click on the red X or move your mouse outside of the preview window.
Snap Preview Anywhere can be downloaded as a tool bar, as an extension in Firefox, and can be incorporated into your blog or website (it shows as a tiny thought bubble when you hover over a link). If you use the Snap Preview Anywhere feature in your blog or website be aware that some take issue with this kind of invasive previewing and do not want a pop-up window suddenly appearing when the mouse hovers over a link. Be sure to check out the Snap search engine as the preview feature is put to great use there.
Whatever your choice these are handy tools for previewing websites without committing to the full link-visit, potentially saving you from lethal pop-up adds, unwanted scripts, or similar flashy or retina-bruising web bling. Are there any other tools out there for previewing websites? Any alternatives?