Enterprise Software

Create bookmarklets for quick and easy searches

Bookmarklets can make searching your favorite Web sites quicker and easier. Learn to create these one-click search links for your favorite sites in four easy steps.


How many times per day do you search the Web for a specific term? If you're constantly hitting your favorite news sites to find out the latest information on your area of consulting specialty, you might want to create bookmarklets to help you search more quickly.

Bookmarklets are small JavaScript applications contained in a bookmark. The links allow you to search a site's database without first navigating to it. For example, if you frequently search CNET's News.com for the latest updates in your areas of expertise, you can create a bookmarklet to get results in one click. This article will teach you how to create one of these handy links in four easy steps.

Credit where credit is due…
TechRepublic gets its ideas from many sources. The idea of creating bookmarklets originated from The Internet Tourbus, a newsletter written by "Net gurus" Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen. Do you have a favorite free newsletter? Send us a link and tell us why you like it. We're compiling a list to share with TechRepublic members.

Step one: Prepare your browser
Before you create a bookmarklet, you'll want to prepare your browser by using either the Links toolbar in Internet Explorer or the Personal Toolbar in Netscape. If you're using Internet Explorer and your Links toolbar isn't showing, click the View menu and choose Toolbars and then Links. If you use Netscape and the Personal Toolbar isn't showing, click the View menu and choose Personal Toolbar. Now you're ready to begin.

Step two: Get the magic link from Bookmarklets.com
The magic link that creates a bookmarklet can be found at Bookmarklets.com . Point your browser to http://www.bookmarklets.com/mk.phtml. Once there, click and drag the blue Make Search Bookmarklet link (shown in Figure A) to your Links Toolbar or Personal Toolbar.

Figure A


Internet Explorer may give you a warning (shown in Figure B) that you are adding a link that may not be safe and will ask you if you'd like to continue. If this happens, just click Yes. The folks at Bookmarklets.com assure us these links are perfectly safe.

Figure B


You should now see a link button named Make Search Bookmarklet on your Links or Personal Toolbar.

Step three: Navigate to your favorite site and search
Bookmarklets will work for any site whose search terms appear in the URL of the search results page. For example, if you search for ".Net" on CNET's News.com page, the URL of the search results page is http://news.search.com/search?tag=ex.ne.fd.srch.ne&q=.net. Because the search term, ".Net" appears in the URL, you can create a bookmarklet to search News.com.

For the purposes of this exercise, let's create a bookmarklet for the search engine Dogpile.com. Navigate your Web browser to http://www.dogpile.com, enter any one-word search—for example, ".Net"—into the search field, and click the Fetch button (see Figure C). Using multiple terms on this initial search can cause an error when creating a bookmarklet.

Figure C


Step four: Create the bookmarklet
Once the results page comes up, do not click any of the links offered. Instead, click the Make Search Bookmarklet button you just created. You will automatically be directed to a page containing four text boxes. The first contains the URL of the results page from your search. In the second box, type in the exact search term you used in your search. In this example, you would type .Net. The third text box contains the words that will appear when you use the bookmarklet. The default is Keywords. In the fourth text box, type an identifying name for this special link, such as Dogpile Search. After you've entered the text, click the Submit button in the lower right-hand corner of the box (Figure D).

Figure D


Once you've clicked Submit, you will be transported to a page containing your new search bookmarklet. Click, hold, and drag the blue text to your Links or Personal Toolbar just as you did your Make Search Bookmarklet link. Again, you may receive a warning that you're adding a link that may not be safe. If so, just click Yes to continue. You should now have a new link called Dogpile Search.

Using the bookmarklet
If you click Dogpile Search, a text box will appear, asking for keywords (Figure E). Type in any keywords and click OK. You will be automatically directed to the search results page.

Figure E


You can create bookmarklets for any site where the search terms end up in the URL of the search results page by following the four steps above. Some examples of sites you might create bookmarklets for include About.com, Ask.com, Dictionary.com, and AcronymFinder.com.

How will you use this tip?
If you find bookmarklets helpful, send us an e-mail and tell us how you've used them. If you have a similar tip to share, please let us know! If we use your tip in a future article, you'll win a TechRepublic coffee mug.

 

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