Monday, August 23, 2010

Some Useful Keyword Quick Searches

Chrome's default location bar behavior is the closest I've gotten to the mythical 'do what I want' in a browser.  While there are extensions for Firefox that can mimic this, I instead have it set up to do something even more useful.  When I know exactly what I want to find, I can specify what domain I want to search to get better results than letting the browser, or Google, figure it out.

For the uninitiated, the magic of keyword quick searches involves typing out a keyword - a few letters or a word - before your search query in the location bar.  The keyword tells your browser which site's search you want to use.  I'll run through how to set them up in Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, then offer some keywords that I use.

For the setup example, I'll stick with a search with obvious utility: Wikipedia.  I'll use the keyword w, since it's short and easily associated with the site name.  The search string for Wikipedia is  This will be called the URL, Location, or Address, depending on the browser.  It'll replace '%s' with whatever you type in after the keyword.

In Chrome, right-click the location bar and go to Edit search engines...  From there, hit Add... and fill in the Name, Keyword, and URL fields with the Wikipedia information.

In Firefox, the setup is a little trickier.  First, you have to bookmark something.  It doesn't matter what.  The keyword option only appears when you're editing an existing bookmark, not creating a new one.  Once you have a bookmark, right-click it and select Properties.  Then fill in the Name, Location, and Keyword fields  with the Wikipedia information, and you're good to go.

In Opera, either open the Opera menu and go to Settings > Preferences... or use the shortcut key Ctrl-F12.  In the Search tab, hit Add... and fill in the Name, Keyword, and Address fields with the Wikipedia information..

Once you're set up, try out your new search by typing 'w colin mochrie' in your location bar without the quotes to make sure everything works.

In Firefox and Opera, you can make things a little easier by right-clicking on a website's search box and selecting "Add a Keyword for this Search..." or "Create Search..."  Chrome will instead automatically add any website searches you use to its search engines; you just need to change the keyword it provides to something more manageable in that Edit search engines... page.

Name: Google
Keyword: g
Search String:
Notes: G is for Google; that's good enough for me.

Name: Wikipedia
Keyword: w
Search String:
Notes: Very good at providing an overview of specific, notable things.  Less well-known is its strength with timelines, lists, and acronyms.

Name: Wiktionary
Keyword: d (for dictionary)
Search String:
Notes: My preferred online dictionary since became bloated.

Name: Google Maps
Keyword: m
Search String:
Notes: I enjoy the ability to just put in a street address followed by just 'nyc' for disambiguation.  I can quickly get a sense of where something is by throwing in a search like "m 743 broadway, nyc".

Name: Google Image Search
Keyword: i
Search String:
Notes: I often find it useful to see what something unfamiliar looks like, or find that one specific image I'm looking to link, using just the keyboard (Ctrl+L to select the location bar).

Name: Stack Overflow
Keyword: k
Search String:
Notes: An excellent resource for specific programming questions.

Name: Amazon
Keyword: z
Search String:
Notes: If it's a consumer product, it's available here more often than not.

Name: Duck Duck Go
Keyword: k
Search String:
Notes: A search engine that's a strong alternative to Google for general queries, since it tends to direct you to sites that are known good sources of information.

Name: Wowhead
Keyword: h
Search String:
Notes: The definitive search engine for World of WarCraft items, quests, and the like.

Name: Flickr
Keyword: f
Search String:
Notes: The other image search.

Name: GameFAQs
Keyword: q
Search String:
Notes: Useful source of game release date, developer, and publisher information under the Data tab, in addition to the expected FAQs.

Name: Urban Dictionary
Keyword: u
Search String:
Notes: Slang definitions.

Name: wikiHow
Keyword: how
Search String:
Notes: Step-by-step instructions for how to do various handy and less-handy things.

Name: IMDB
Keyword: imdb
Search String:
Notes: Still provides the most comprehensive actor filmographies and cast lists.

Name: LEO
Keyword: de
Search String:
Notes: German <-> English dictionary

Name: Gatherer
Keyword: mtg
Search String:["%s"]
Notes: An official database of all 11,000+ Magic: The Gathering cards, if you ever find yourself wondering what a Magic card does by name.

Name: eBay
Keyword: ebay
Search String:

Name: Etsy
Keyword: etsy
Search String:

1 comment:

  1. Very helpful writeup. Thanks for sharing -- your list of search engines is a great kickstart.


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