CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

LookSmart review: LookSmart


Ben Patterson
2 min read
Although it lacks such essential search tools as image, multimedia, people, and local queries, LookSmart comes up aces with its article search engine and Furl, an innovative Web archiving utility. While we wouldn't recommend LookSmart for everyday searches, those looking to search periodicals or save copies of Web search results should give it a whirl.

Unlike other search engines, whose search box is front and center, LookSmart pushes its to the left-hand side of the screen.

Type LookSmart.com, and you'll find the search box on the left-hand column, almost as though search was a secondary interest. Only after typing in a query do you see LookSmart's main page, which has the industry-standard search box at the top with three labeled tabs beneath it: Directory, Web, and Articles. Clicking the Directory tab calls up a dozen category links (from Computing to Work & Money) at the very bottom of the page, while Articles takes you off LookSmart altogether and into a separate service called FindArticles (see below).

FindArticles is a unique feature available on LookSmart that is well worth investigating.

LookSmart's best attribute is its ability to scour periodicals for search terms. Using FindArticles (a LookSmart subsidiary), you can access more than 5 million articles. A simple query returns matching article titles, summaries, periodical names, and dates. You can filter your results by news category or by free or paid articles; for the premium stories, the site sends you content providers such as KeepMedia and Goliath.

Web searches on LookSmart are pretty basic. Besides the marked sponsored links, all you get are page titles, URLs, and snippets of text from the page. Unlike Google, LookSmart lacks related links, cached pages, aggregated images, and news links. Much better are the Directory results, which draw from LookSmart's database of cataloged Web sites, complete with site descriptions, related links, and categories (although still no cached pages). If you're looking for images, multimedia, Yellow Pages content, or local search info, you'll need to turn to another search site, such as Yahoo.
LookSmart doesn't have a downloadable toolbar, but it does have a clever service called Furl, which saves and archives any Web page you choose--sort of like your own, personal page cache. Using a special Furl toolbar, you can "Furl" a Web page with a single click, then call up or search the archived page at a later date, even after the original page has been updated. We were surprised to find that LookSmart doesn't have an online help section for searching (all of the other search engines in our roundup do), although there is one FAQ for FindArticles and another buried FAQ for Furl.



The Good

Excellent periodicals search; archiving tool Furl lets you save a copy of a Web page.

The Bad

No image, multimedia, people, or local search; no cached pages or related links.

The Bottom Line

LookSmart falls short when it comes to standard Web searches, but its article searches and innovative Furl tool are unmatched among the competition.