Expand your browser with eBay's custom toolbar application.
The eBay Toolbar, shown in Figure 2-7, is a free add-on program that provides a handy search box, links to several key eBay pages, and two desktop "alert" features.
Provided you're running a recent version of Windows and using a new version of Internet Explorer or an old version of Netscape Navigator, you can download the eBay Toolbar at pages.ebay.com/ebay_toolbar. (Users of Mozilla, Netscape 6.x/7.x, Unix, or a Mac of any kind are out of luck.)
In addition to providing handy links to My eBay, the Search pages, the PayPal home page, and other hot spots, the eBay Toolbar also has some features you won't find elsewhere:
The Search textbox keeps a history of the last few searches you've typed (up to 25), which can be a quick and easy way to save past searches (see [Hack #16]). But you have to use it exclusively, as it doesn't link up with the My Favorite Searches list and it will not save any search typed in the site itself.
Bid Alerts notify you 10, 15, 30, 60, or 75 minutes before the end of an auction on which you've bid, which is useful if you wish to return to the auction to bid again and ensure a win. Included in the Bid Alerts menu is a handy list of all the open auctions on which you've placed at least one bid; click Refresh Bid List if it appears to be out of date. Click the little arrow next to the eBay logo and click eBay Toolbar Preferences to customize this feature.
Watch Alerts work just like Bid Alerts, but apply to items in the Items I'm Watching list (see [Hack #24]), which can be especially useful for sniping (see [Hack #21]).
The Bookmarks feature works just like Netscape's Bookmarks button and Internet Explorer's Favorites menu. Probably its greatest strength is that you'll be tempted to fill it with links to eBay-related pages, reducing clutter in your browser's own Bookmarks list.
Finally, there's a certain cachet to using a customized, feature-rich toolbar right on your browser that simply isn't available anywhere else.
If you're a Windows 95, Mac, or Unix user, or if you use Netscape 6.x/7.x or Mozilla on any platform, there's a very simple alternative to the eBay Toolbar. Both Internet Explorer and Mozilla/Netscape have a fully customizable Links toolbar, which can hold not only links to web pages, but sport neat drop-down menus into which those links can be organized. See [Hack #13] for a snazzy little example.