One of the awesome features of Firefox‘s “awesome bar” is the keyword search. When you type a term in, it will search through your bookmarks and history, however, if you submit that term when its not a complete URL, Firefox will try to guess what you’re looking for. How does it do this?
Well, Firefox uses a keyword search service, which by default, it performs a Google search which will take you to the top result for that keyword, although when you use unusual keywords, it will take you to the regular search results. Give it a try now. Type in lifehacker and hit Enter/Return and you will be taken to Lifehacker, since its the first result that comes up. Type in online and hit Enter/Return and you will be taken to Merriam Webster Online, since again its the first result that comes up.
Now if you don’t like Google, you can always change it. With Firefox, there’s an area where all your preferences are stored. Its like Firefox’s version of the Windows Registry.
Before You Start:
Time Required: Less than 5 minutes
Skills Required: Confidence
Other Requirements: Firefox 3.0 or higher
Step 1: Type in about:config into the Location Bar (“awesome bar”).
Step 2: Click the button that says “I’ll be Careful, I promise!” And really, be careful. Warning: If you do not know what you are doing, do not randomly edit entries. Incorrectly editing this area could cause severe problems to Firefox, including causing it to not work at all. If you wish, you may make a backup of this by browsing to your Firefox profile and saving the prefs.js file. The profile is located at the following locations:
Windows Vista and above: Users\<UserName>\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox Windows 2000, XP, Server 2003: Documents and Settings\<UserName>\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox Mac OS X: ~/Library/Application Support/Firefox Linux and Unix systems: ~/.mozilla/firefox
Step 3: Locate the key Keyword.URL by copying it into the Filter box. Double click it.
Step 4: The default value is http://www.google.com/search?ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=navclient&gfns=1&q=. If you make a mistake, just right click and click Reset and the default value will be back.
Step 5: Type in the URL of your choice leaving where the search term goes blank. To do this, make a random search like “TEST” on another site and copy and paste the URL without “TEST”. For example, Bing would be http://www.bing.com/search?q=. Press Okay and test it out. No restart required.
Now you can use any default search engine with the awesome bar. However, most (if not all but Google) search engines will not automatically redirect to the first search result.
As always, you can use search engine keywords for searching using any engine directly from the Awesome Bar. Simply go to Manage Search Engines in the Search bar and edit Keywords. Then in the URL bar, type in the keyword followed by your search term. For example, my keyword for searching Wikipedia is w. So if I needed to search for Firefox on Wikipedia, I just have to type in w Firefox in the URL bar.