I have never been a fan of metasearch engines. I find that, unless I am looking for a truly unusual word or concept, I get less-relevant results than if I had searched several search engines sequentially. However, I recently came across a cross-search engine tool that may become my new favorite place to start a search.
Intelways.com, formerly CrossEngine and before that, mrSAPO, isn’t a metasearch engine; you type in your query and then select which search engine to use. Intelways provides one-click access to around 300 different search tools, organized by broad channels.
You type your search query and select any one of these search tools; the results appear in a frame below the search boxes. The Intelways frame remains at the top of the screen as you scroll through your search results, and can switch from one search engine to another.
What makes Intelways particularly useful is its categorization of finding tools. The default selection includes several Google search indexes (web, images, news, maps), other major search engines, Wikipedia, several multimedia search engines, social bookmarking sites, and even Amazon and eBay. There are also categories of tools for “General” searching, images, video, news, “Social” sites (ranging from Reddit and Furl to Squidoo and Friendster), searching by file type, reference sources, and so on. Click on any of these categories, and a new collection of search tools is displayed, specific to that type of search. Although these tools are not search simultaneously, it’s almost ridiculously easy to switch from one to another by clicking the box for that search tool on the top frame.
Intelways also has a country-specific filter, currently for 11 countries. Note that this filter is applied only when the search tool has a country- or language-specific site. So, for example, the filter for the U.K. limits searches to the U.K. version of Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Amazon and eBay, but there is no filter for Google Maps, Flickr or Yahoo Answers.
Fortunately for those of us who can’t remember which search engine to select, you can add an Intelways plug-in to the search box in Internet Explorer or Firefox.