There are tens of millions of sites to visit. Not forgetting iyiz.com, here are the only ones you actually need.101 most useful websites for you…
The powerhouse of the internet and the only place many people go for information. But if you thought Google was a still a mere search engine, look again. Click on ‘more’ at the top of the homepage to discover the work of ‘GoogleLabs’ – more than 50 free tools and web pages that could change your internet life.
GoogleDocs lets you create documents, spreadsheets and presentations, store them online, share them with others and access them from wherever there’s an internet connection.
Googlemail is probably the best email program – it has virtually limitless capacity and you don’t need to change your email address to use it. The Google calendar is a powerful searchable diary that you can allow others to access, so family members can make appointments together.
SketchUp could be just the tool you are looking for to design that conservatory extension and see what it will look like once the builders have gone. Add to that databases for searching academic journals and books in the public domain, the powerful GoogleMaps, with its engaging satellite imagery, a finance page with live stock quotes and an easy-to-use online messaging system, and you can see why some people say Google is taking over the world – and, with GoogleMoon and GoogleMars, the rest of the galaxy, too.
Surf the web without disclosing who or where you are.
Hints, tips and troubleshooting for your iPod and associated software.
If you use just a few websites, this lets you create a home page that has links to them all. Simple, free and practical.
A suite of free business programs. From word processing and presentation software to tools for taking notes in meetings, planning projects and creating databases.
To-do lists, notes, ideas and calendar. Excellent for juggling projects and much more versatile than a ring folder.
All you need to know about keeping the net safe – protecting children, preventing spam, avoiding viruses and stopping others accessing your personal details.
More than 7,500 free fonts (for Mac and PC), so you can at last stop using Copperplate for your party invitations.
The superfast way to send large files over the web. Don’t attach that family video to an email, Pando it instead.
Turn your home videos into animated flip books. Much more appealing than another DVD.
Entertainment, media and showbiz news. Plus, a surprisingly good forum for technology-related problems – a great place to sort out your broadband.
On-demand television and radio programmes from the BBC.
Events, attractions, openings and exhibitions from around the world. Enter a location and dates and the site will show listings.
What’s coming on and what’s making an exit in London’s theatre world. Especially good for seating plans, so you can see where the box office staff are putting you.
The world’s biggest (and still growing) reference for actors, directors, locations, plots…
A round-up of what the critics thought of films on general release.
The British Film Institute’s definitive guide to the British film industry. Plots, features, statistics and news from the film world.
Expand your reading. Catalogue your books online and others make recommendations based on what you seem to enjoy.
News, features and listings for Britain’s terrestrial and cable television. Customisable interface so your favourite channels are always at the top.
The authentic (and often tangential) voice of the Britain’s ‘real’ football supporters.
Everything you want to know about the world of cricket.
The official Olympics site, with news, scheduling, features and a countdown to the games themselves.
From shock jocks to orchestral baroque, thousands of internet radio stations to listen to on your computer.
Expand your music and movie tastes. Enter the name of a song, band, movie, actor or director you like and Live Plasma will return some pretty intelligent recommendations for further investigation.
A clever way of searching for video clips on the internet – from uploaded episodes of your favourite soap to comedy home-video moments.
Self-publishing made smart again. Write, design and then print your own books – though you’ll still have to persuade others to buy them.
Two great sites full of short videos showing you how to do almost anything, from the incredibly useful (exercises for diabetes sufferers, tying a Windsor knot) to the revelatory (‘learn different kinds of kisses’), via the wonderfully obscure (‘make a moving jaw for your werewolf mask’).
DIY projects from zombie make-up to LED balloons. Excellent selection of rainy-day projects for bored children (and adults) at home.
Addictive series of Flash games including the hypnotically soothing Boomshine.
News, reviews, hints and tips for virtually every console game on the market. Essential if you are still up at 2am trying to find a way into the castle on Zelda.
Online anagram machine for Scrabble players and crossword enthusiasts. Also solves Sudoku.
ADVICE AND INFORMATION
A wonderfully graphical – and customisable – display of news stories from around the world. Click on an item to see the full story.
Continually updated guide to modern-day Malapropisms, misunderstandings and other manglings of language. From ‘high dungeon’ to ‘wreckless driving’, Eggcorn names the culprits and nudges them in the right direction.
World-class articles from intellectual and influential journals around the world. Browse the day’s selections. Like The Week for eggheads.
The academy comes to cyberspace. A panel of mainly American and British philosophy scholars answers questions sent in by the public. Search the database, from Abortion to War, or send in a question of your own.
Shows you the dates of Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and American holidays from now to 2010.
For when the muse has gone, a rhyme and synonym generator to help you towards the perfect mot. You can also search for Shakespeare quotations, biblical references and other literary inspirations.
Giant but easily searchable database of statistics, maps and profiles for every country in the world.
The people’s approach to news and features, Digg brings together items from across the net, ranked according to how many people have felt them worth recommending. Sometimes a little techie-heavy, but excellent for discovering what the cyberworld is getting worked up about.
A powerful way of keeping tabs on MPs and peers: attendance records, voting patterns, recent statements and more.
Volunteering opportunities for young people, sorted by region, interest, skills and need.
Controversial, democractic and sometimes error-strewn encyclopaedia that has brought Darwinism to the world of knowledge. Make it your first port of call for looking something up. Just be sure to check somewhere else that what you find makes sense.
Wikipedia’s online multilingual dictionary. Immensely powerful and far less controversial than its encyclopaedic forebear.
The original – and still the best – personal finance site on the web (the American version is at www.fool.com). For savers, borrowers, stock spotters and day traders, sound, independent advice that cuts through the jargon.
From the arts, business, science and technology, a dry but authoritative conglomeration of data from around the world.
Free and authoritative database of more than 17 million medical research papers. Not always easy to understand if you are not a medic, but a far better place to look for information than the random sites that come up on Google.
The internet’s version of that clever uncle who always seems to know the answer to your questions. There are few subjects the site doesn’t tackle, though the coverage can be superficial. A good starting point for idle research.
Online information and advice about health and illness, run by Britain’s National Health Service. The site includes a useful self-diagnosis tool that can reassure you that your hangover is not in fact meningitis.
General legal advice relating to housing, family law, employment, motoring, consumer issues and personal injury, plus wills, conveyancing and divorce. Good starting point to see where you stand. Will also, for a fixed fee, answer questions and put you in touch with a solicitor.
Engaging encyclopaedia of the modern (and not so modern) world, with good illustrations and clear text. Can suffer sometimes from an ‘it’s amazing!’ tone of voice..
Currency converter covering every world currency. Azerbaijan new manats to Cayman Island dollars? Just a click away.
Find where you stand legally with the Citizens Advice Bureau’s online information resource.
Advice and information for young people, including health and fitness, drugs, problems with bullying, how to study and applying for jobs.
Advice and suggestions from the world’s leading gardening organisation. A good ‘how-to’ section and seasonal tips for the time of year.
Automatic translation to and from most European languages and Chinese. The results are sometimes a little strange, but you will usually get your message across.
How to do just about everything, from getting stains off curtains to buying a second-hand car.
Updated weekly, information, tips and recipe ideas on British seasonal food.
Website of Britain’s leading charity for the elderly, packed with advice about maintaining an active life.
The queen of weather sites, with more information than you would possibly imagine you might need, from pollen counts to surf forecasts.
Spoof Wikipedia-style encyclopaedia where nothing is true, but a good deal is very funny indeed. Idle away an afternoon or, even better, hone your comedy skills by making a contribution yourself.
An easy way to lend small sums (from $25) to business projects in the developing world. Kiva keeps track of your investment, updates you on progress and repays your loan as the business grows.
From bad breath and piles to cold sores and beyond, Dr Margaret Stearn dispenses invaluable advice.
HOUSE AND HOME
Click on an area of the map to find out how noisy a street, or even a section of the street, is – handy for light sleepers planning a move. At the moment only London is mapped, but the rest of England will follow.
One of the best sites for finding property. It is UK-based but has a good international presence.
User reviews on local tradesmen. You describe the job you need done and how quickly and suppliers contact you with quotes – with previous customers rating them.
Possibly the most dangerous site on this list, Zoopla gives sale prices of recently sold homes and – the tricky bit – estimates the value of the rest. We dare you not to look.
Subtitled ‘Consumer Revenge’, this is where you find the discounts, tricks and tips to save money. The weekly email is essential reading for canny consumers. It caters only for Britain, but every country should have one.
Practical guide to making your home more environmentally friendly, from low-flow showerheads to 12V lighting. US-based, but many of the products are available elsewhere.
For budding Laurence Llewellyn-Bowens everywhere, it provides the ability to redecorate your home in cyberspace. Choose colours, furniture, accessories and finishes and then publish the results online.
Neighbourhood information based on postcode: schools, shopping and, juciest of all, how much the house down the road sold for recently.
One of many sites where you can swap homes with someone else for a period. This is less cluttered than some of the others and has a good geographical spread.
The fast way to compare utility suppliers and other services, from broadband to home insurance. Enter your postcode and the site comes back with the best deals.
Enchanting recipe and foodie blog from a Californian cook who believes in good food. Subscribe to the email alert service and transform your cooking repertoire.
The most grown-up (just) of the social-networking sites that are fast taking over the world. Excellent for staying in touch with far-flung friends, though pretty good too for re-establishing contact with those you hoped you had lost.
The quickest and easiest way to create a blog of your own.
Like an online Mothers’ Union meeting (though sometimes a little more risqué), Ringsurf is a chatroom where people exchange ideas about anything from politics to relationships. The quality is not always high, but users have been known to discover new (real-life) friends with interests they thought no one would share. A tribute to the information-sharing capability of the net.
Organise your thoughts by creating mindmaps online and sharing them with others.
An intelligent, intuitive and inspiring way to read entries from some of the millions of blogs that dot the internet. You can browse by subject or area of interest, read the postings that are catching the world’s attention and bookmark blogs that catch your attention. And if you want to join in…
The website you graduate to once you’ve discovered how to put your holiday snaps on the net. Here, everyone’s photos are linked by using tags, such as ‘Spain’, ‘beach’ or ‘happy’, which sets you off on an exploration of others’ uploads.
There are plenty of great parenting forums out there – Netmums, Mumsnet – but this is still the best source of considered, authoritative, often soothing advice on everything from colic to tax credits.
YouTube for debaters. Upload a short video about an issue close to your heart and others reply in kind or by text.
Gift ideas for when you can’t think what to buy someone. You enter their age, sex and interests and how much you want to pay and it scours the net for ideas.
Online shopping for (nearly) everything you might want to buy. The original auction formula is still going strong, but plenty more features have been added since it began. Take a look at non-UK sites, such as ebay.fr and ebay.de, too, for bargains others may have missed. The layout is the same even if you don’t speak the language.
Fashion tips, advice and suggestions. Includes Ask a Stylist for those tricky co-ordination problems and a What Was She Wearing? inquiry service to help you track down your favourite celebrity’s fashion choice.
Unabashedly straightforward classified ads site, for everything from new homes to online romance.
The Amazon of the second-hand book world. More than 13,500 booksellers selling 110 million books. If it’s not here, it’s not worth looking for.
There are plenty of price-comparison sites on the web, but this one seems to get it right more often than most. Type in what you want to buy and Kelkoo will come back with the cheapest prices it can find.
A (digital) finger on the pulse of the technology world. All the newest developments, discoveries, gadgets and toys – before they hit the shops.
Discover more about wine by reviewing what you’ve enjoyed and receiving tips and suggestions from others.
Find the right jeans for your fit before you even leave home. A cheeky but revealing ‘body type’ guide takes you straight to the brand you should be trying. Search by style, body type or brand. Women only.
Monitors prices and destinations for all the low-cost airlines so you just type in where you want to go and when to find the best deal.
Routes, tickets, tips and advice – the only guide you need to travelling by train from Britain to Europe and the rest of the world.
Online pedestrian routefinder for London, Birmingham, Newcastle and Edinburgh that shows you the best route to walk from A to B. Includes calorie counter, CO2 savings and points of interest on the way. Other cities coming soon.
Indispensable and almost always spot-on guide to negotiating the capital’s public transport system. You enter your starting point and destination and it gives you the best bus, tube, cycle and even boat routes to get you across town.
A hi-tech hark-back to the days of leisurely motoring. ViaMichelin gives you maps, routes and directions throughout Britain and continental Europe with added panache. The maps have a pleasant printed quality about them and, naturally enough, your route is accompanied by gastronomic highlights to be found along the way. There’s also information about destinations.
Information on your carbon footprint and how to cut it down. Includes an online calculator to measure your effect on the world.
Excellent all-round travel site. Use it for good prices on flights and holidays, but click on ‘Destinations’ for some well-researched and up-to-date travel guides.
Aircraft seating plans, showing you the prime seats, possible annoyances and seats you should avoid.
A consumer guide to what you can expect to eat on board. There are news and features from the airline catering world, but the best part is a gallery of photos of on-board meals sent in by passengers and listed by airline.
Travel writing with a twist. Click on the destination you have in mind and be prepared to be inspired. The site also offers tavelogues, news, books reviews, blogs and slideshows.