Yahoo tests an online notepad for its search engine

Yahoo is developing a tool to let people capture information they find while using its search engine.

Yahoo has developed an online notepad for its search engine where people will be able to save links, type notes, copy and paste content from Web sites, and then share that information with others via e-mail.

The tool, called Search Pad, provides a place to retain information found using Yahoo's search engine, and combines features from online notebooks and social bookmarking sites.

Although similar services exist from other vendors, Yahoo has tightly integrated the tool with its search engine, giving it a very targeted purpose, as opposed to making it a standalone Web application.

However, Search Pad is in early testing and will be available to only some Yahoo users on Wednesday. It will be available to everyone "in the coming months," the company said.

Similar options include Evernote's eponymous service and Zoho's Notebook. Google also has an online notebook, but last month the company announced it will stop developing the product.

According to Gartner analyst Allen Weiner, Yahoo needs to give Search Pad a "wow factor" that will set it apart from similar tools and motivate people to give it a try. "I want to see a really sexy application and features that really raise it above the crowd," Weiner said.

Search Pad users can currently share only using e-mail, and the tool needs broad social sharing capabilities, Weiner said. That would allow users to post items to Facebook, for example, or trigger alerts on micro-blogging services like Twitter. Search Pad should also have solid mobile support, since the information stored may come in handy when people are on the road with only a cell phone, he said. According to Yahoo, Search Pad isn't available on its mobile search service yet.

Yahoo doesn't intend Search Pad to be a replacement for its Delicious social bookmarking service. Rather, Yahoo envisions Search Pad as a repository of information tied to specific projects, such as planning a trip or a major purchase. Search Pad is an online option for people who save information they find on the Web in word processing files, on a scrap of paper or by creating browser bookmarks.

Users don't need a Yahoo account to use Search Pad, but Yahoo members who log in will be able to save their notes and access them later. For example, someone may have several in-progress research items in Search Pad: one with information about an upcoming trip, another one with information about buying a car and a third one devoted to research about plans for a party.

The links, content and notes in the items can be edited, deleted, re-arranged and shared with others via e-mail. Currently, Search Pad is designed to work only with Yahoo's main Web search engine, not with the specialty engines for news, images and the like.

Those interested in learning more about Search Pad can view this video Yahoo prepared. Yahoo said it wants feedback from people who try Search Pad, and even those who don't but have suggestions for features.

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Juan Carlos Perez

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