In a graphical user interface
on a computer monitor
is a panel on which onscreen buttons, icons, menus or other input or output elements are placed.
Earlier forms of toolbars were defined by the programmer and had set functions, and thus there was no difference between a toolbar with buttons or just a row of buttons. Most modern programs and operating systems however, allow the end user to modify and customize toolbars to fit their personal needs. Some prominent examples of customizable toolbars are panels of the GNOME and KDE desktop environments, functions of which range from expandable menus and buttons for applications, window lists, notification areas, clocks and resource monitors to volume controls and weather report widgets.
Some applications, e.g. graphics editors, allow their toolbars to be detached and moved between windows and other toolbars.
The first toolbar appeared on the Xerox Alto computer in 1973.
Toolbars are seen in office suites such as OpenOffice.org, graphics editors and web browsers such as Inkscape and Mozilla Firefox.
Web browser toolbar add-ons
Third-party toolbars for browsers are best known for adding functionality and ease-of-use options to the end user. While the browser itself handles basic browsing navigation (Back, Stop, Reload, etc) using its own toolbars, external toolbars often add additional functionality to browsers (additional search fields, form-fill, links back to popular sites. etc)
Some third party web browser toolbars include:
Although third-party toolbars generally provide functionality for the user, they can introduce security flaws in the associated browser. Some toolbars are created for this specific purpose. Posing as Search Bars, these persistent Trojan Horse
programs act as a "foot in the door" to other viruses and spyware
, in addition to bombarding the user with advertisements. Another common attribute of these toolbars is the fact they cannot be disabled or uninstalled by conventional methods provided by the associated browser or Operating system
. Conversely, many browser toolbars are harmless.