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There's no need for extensions and get rid of the space-wasting search box entirely
Authored by: Elliot Shank on Jan 17, '06 11:53:48AM

First off, all the major browsers on all the major platforms support using command/ctrl-L to get into the address/URL bar.

Next, Firefox supports searching from the URL bar, so you should customize the toolbar to lose the search box so that you can see more of the URL of the site you are visiting.

Firefox bookmarks have a property called "keyword" which allows you to easily perform searches based upon those bookmarks. Firefox comes with several of these already set up; open up the Bookmarks Manager and look in the Quick Searches folder.

The way that you use one of these is to go into the URL field and type "<keyword> <search terms>" and hit enter. One of the default bookmarks is a dictionary lookup with a keyword of "d"; an example of using this bookmark is "d quaquaversal" (yes, that's a real word). To look at the article on everyone's favorite stimulant in Wikipedia, type "wp caffeine". The search terms should be exactly as you would type them in the text box on the search site, including quotes. So, to look up appearances of a certain band in the best city in the world on Google, you would enter 'g "they might be giants" chicago'.

Now Firefox ships with only a few of these things set up already and it's missing the one that you use the most; how do you rectify this situation? It's easy! Just Ctrl/right click on the text field for the search function on the website, and select "Add a Keyword for this Search...".

So, to make it easy to search this site from whereever you are on the web, right click on that search box in the upper right hand corner of this page, select the add keyword item from the menu, and in the dialog that shows up, put "Mac OS X Hints" in the name field and "mh" in the keyword field. Then, whereever you are and whenever you want to find hints for applying mass changes to an image, just hit command-L, type "mh photoshop filter", and hit enter. Presto!.

I've set up my own bookmarks for things like Amazon, All Music Guide, and a bunch of the Google specialized searches.

The way that these things work is that, if Firefox looks at what you've typed into the URL box and it contains a space and the first sequence of characters before the first space matches the keyword for one of your bookmarks, it takes the URL in the bookmark and substitutes the rest of what you typed for any "%s" in that URL before actually using the URL.

For example, if you look at the bookmark created in the above example for this site, you will see that the URL is "http://www.macosxhints.com/search.php?query=%s&type=stories&mode=search&keyType=all". If you type "mh idvd" in the address bar, Firefox will try to navigate to "http://www.macosxhints.com/search.php?query=idvd&type=stories&mode=search&keyType=all", giving you all the hints for iDVD.

You can get really sophisticated by hand editing the URL, making sure to put the "%s" in the right place.

I wanted an easy way to find things near where I work using Google Local. If you use Google Local, you will notice that there are two search fields, one for what you're looking for and another for where you want to find it. So, starting with a bookmark created via the "add keyword" menu item, I played around with the URLs that Google Local produces and created a "gw" keyword ("Google Work") with a URL of "http://local.google.com/local?q=%s&num=20&svnum=100&hl=en&lr=&near=60603&sc=1&rl=1". If you look at the parameters in this URL, you will see the usual "q=blah" part of every Google facility for the search terms. The interesting part is the "near" parameter, which I specified as the ZIP code of my office.

If you fiddle with this sort of thing, make sure that you URL encode any special characters; if you don't know how to do this, do some Google Local searches using the text for the location that you want and just copy out the value of the "near" parameter from the resulting URL (up to the end of the URL or the next ampersand).

Using keywords makes my life so much easier.

(And I hate that, in Safari, the URL field is tied to the search field, so you can't get the search field out of the toolbar.)



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Very cool
Authored by: simbalala on Jan 17, '06 01:20:09PM

Good tip(s).

This is one of those things that we'd all know already if we read the documentation. I never used the search box in the browser bar anyway. I have a shortcut key for a Google bookmark so it was Command T (for new tab) then Control g for Google.

The Keywords are even better.



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There's no need for extensions and get rid of the space-wasting search box entirely
Authored by: neuralstatic on Jan 17, '06 01:35:25PM

the multiple search engines is so valuable to me, i'd never be able to lose that search box. saves me way too much time



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multiple search engines is so valuable to me
Authored by: simbalala on Jan 17, '06 09:23:29PM

Really?

Set up some of the Keywords with a character or two for each search engine and your "multiple search engines" world will suddenly become much, much larger (and quicker).



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There's no need for extensions and get rid of the space-wasting search box entirely
Authored by: Elliot Shank on Jan 18, '06 08:48:58AM

You want multiple search engines?

Set up bookmarks with the following (suggested) keywords and URLs:

y: http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=%s
aj: http://web.ask.com/web?q=%s
atw: http://www.alltheweb.com/search?q=%s
teo: http://s.teoma.com/search?q=%s
msn: http://search.msn.com/results.aspx?q=%s
l: http://search.lycos.com/default.asp?query=%s
tech: http://www.technorati.com/cosmos/search.html?url=%s
f: http://www.feedster.com/search.php?q=%s
b: http://www.bloglines.com/search?t=1&q=%s
alt: http://www.altavista.com/web/results?q=%s

So, those are a bunch of basic things... how 'bout these:

Search Amazon, but only in the Tools & Hardware department: http://www.amazon.com/gp/search/?search-alias=tools&keywords=%s

Search Download.com, restricted to things associated with download managers: http://www.download.com/3120-20_4-0.html?tag=srch&qt=%s&tg=dl-2071

To look up a UPS package's progress, without having to navigate through the site and click the stupid checkbox, etc.: http://wwwapps.ups.com/WebTracking/processInputRequest?sort_by=status&tracknums_displayed=1&TypeOfInquiryNumber=T&loc=en_US&InquiryNumber1=%s&track.x=0&track.y=0

(Yes, this is done more easiliy with the UPS/FedEx Tracking Linkify Greasemonkey script, but it's a good example)


The point is that you can access more search engines more quickly, without having to wait for someone to come up with a new search engine plugin. A new search engine can be added with one context menu click and filling in two text boxes. Not only that, but as you can see above, you can customize how those searches work.



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