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Use any Web site's search feature directly from the Firefox address bar

Firefox's Web Search lets you find content with various search engines. But smart keywords let you perform searches directly from the address bar.

In a previous TR Dojo Challenge question, I asked TechRepublic members, "How can you use any Web site's search feature directly from the Firefox address bar?" And several members were quick to answer. Here's how you do it.

It's all about smart keywords

Although Firefox, like other browsers, has a Web Search feature, it only lets you find content using Internet Search Engines, reference sites like Wikipedia, and sites that have a Firefox search add-on. What if you want to use the search on a site that doesn't fit these criteria? Create a smart keyword for the search, that's how.

There are two ways to create a smart keyword for a site's search feature—manually, using the search URL, or automatically, by right-clicking the Web site's search box. Let's look at the manual method.

Manually method

First, you must create the search URL. To do this, perform a search on the site you're using for the keyword. For example, searching "windows" on TechRepublic yields a page with the following URL: http://www.techrepublic.com/search/index.php?q=windows, as shown in Figure A.
Figure A

Now replace your search string with %s. Firefox will replace the "%s" with your search string when you use the keyword from the address bar. Your new URL should look something like:

http://www.techrepublic.com/search/index.php?q=%s

Now that you have the search URL, you can create the bookmark and the smart keyword. Click Bookmarks and then Organize Bookmarks from the Firefox toolbar. Within the Library window, select a folder from the left column. You'll save the new bookmark and keyword here. You can also create a new folder to store all your keyword searches. I've created a folder called Quick Searches, as shown in Figure B.
Figure B
Next, click the small gear (OS X) or Organize (Windows) from the Library window's toolbar and select New Bookmark. Enter a name, location (the URL), and the keyword. I've entered the TechRepublic search URL specified above, and "tr" for the keyword, as shown in Figure C. Click Add, close the Library windows, and your new smart keyword is ready to use.
Figure C
You can now enter the smart keyword into the Firefox address bar followed by your search string. As you do, you be able to watch Firefox replace the %s with your search terms, as shown in Figure D. Although the manual method works, the automatic, right-click method is much easier.
Figure D

Automatic (right-click) method

First, locate the search box on a Web site and right-click it. From the resulting context menu, select Add a keyword for this Search, as shown in Figure E.
Figure E
Next, enter a name, select a folder to hold the keyword (like the Quick Searches folder I created earlier), and enter a keyword, as shown in Figure F.
Figure F

When you click Save, the new keyword window will disappear and you keyword is ready to go. Mozilla has also posted a quick guide to creating smart keywords using the right-click method on its Firefox support site.

And the TechRepublic swag goes to...

This week's coffee mugs and laptop stickers go to KyleLanser, who was first to correctly answer the question and provide a detailed outline of the steps needed to create a search keyword.

Thanks to everyone who submitted an answer.

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About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

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