Everyone knows about Google Chrome’s Omnibar, the all-in-one Search and Address Bar that’s part of Google Chrome’s minimalist design. It’s one of Google Chrome’s important features, and not to mention dead useful. The Omnibar allows you to search Google, along with various other sites, without having to actually go to Google.com (or the other site in question) and search from there.
Now what if there was a way to duplicate such functionality in Firefox?
Of course, you could use the Omnibar addon: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/omnibar/
But what if you want to keep your Firefox, already a lumbering giant, trimmer than it could be otherwise? It turns out that all of the Omnibar’s default features (searching various sites from the address bar) are implemented in Firefox already, albeit with less streamlining. Setting up this feature only takes seconds for each search engine you have, and Firefox has hundreds of search engines all in one place.
The idea behind this quick and simple hack is the “Edit Keyword” button that appears in the “Manage Search Engines” dialog. This button creates a link between any combination of characters, or keyword if you will, and a search engine such as Google.
This effectively duplicates the ability of Chrome’s Omnibar to search from the address bar. Searching is just as simple: simply type in the keyword, followed by a space and the search term. It’s just as if you were searching from the dedicated search bar in Firefox. These keywords are case-sensitive, however, so remember to type in the keyword and the search exactly how you want.
For websites that don’t have a dedicated Firefox search extension, you can use the %s variable and the keyword bookmarking ability of Firefox. One example is Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, whose URLs all follow the format
By creating a bookmark to
and setting a keyword, you can search Merriam-Webster just by typing in the keyword and the search word. (An alternative to Merriam-Webster dictionary search is Dictionary.com search, which does, in fact, have a dedicated search extension in Firefox.) This hack, however, is completely subsumed by the following one.
A final easy-to-set-up search hack is the “Add a Keyword to Search”. This allows you to add a keyword to any search, anywhere.
Right click on a search bar (I used TechAirlines’ search) and select “Add a Keyword for this Search”. Set a keyword for the bookmark, and voila!
Google Chrome has some neat built-in tricks, though, but nothing that can’t be done by Firefox. The Chrome Omnibar lets you bypass Google Web Search in favor of some other Google searches, such as Docs or Gmail, or (since it doesn’t have a dedicated search extension) even Google Images. The built-in keywords are detailed here, but you can use the right-click “Add a Keyword” to do the same thing, and with more flexibility.
Have other search bar tricks? Share with us in the comments.