Browser

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.

You can also sign up to receive the latest from the TR Dojo through one or more of the following methods:

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...

9 comments
crysyx
crysyx

Noone here are curious enough to have used Opera at least once ?? Opera do this, automatically, just right clic at any search field, add to search, done, and it have it years ago, when will you people realize that Everyone, even your beloved firefox steal all his great ideas from Opera years ago. !!

thezar
thezar

In your first 2 paragraphs, the only valid use of the apostrophe was in "site's". Find a good proofreader, please.

nksingh
nksingh

Some of feature like "Select add a keyword" after right click in my Mozilla Firefox 3.5.2. But it is useful. Thanks!

Ken Davis
Ken Davis

I might be missing the point, but wouldn't you just google: windows site:techrepublic.com.com

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

In the above TR Dojo Challenge article, I explain how to use bookmarks and smart keywords to use any Web site's search feature directly from the Firefox address bar. Original article: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/itdojo/?p=1430 In the post, I use TechRepublic's site search as an example, but I'd like to build a list of site searches for IT pros. So, share your favorite site search resources in this discussion thread.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

I will concede that two typos existed in the first two paragraphs of this article. But your assertion that I correctly used an apostrophe only once in the first two paragraphs is wrong. Let's [a contraction of "let us" - imperative mood in first-person plural] break this down: ----- Although Firefox, like other browsers, has a Web Search feature, it only let's (this actually is a typo - fixed) you find content using Internet Search Engines, reference sites like Wikipedia, and site?s (this is another typo) that have a Firefox search add-on. What if you want to use the search on a site that doesn't [a contraction of does not] fit these criteria? Create a smart keyword for the search, that's [contraction of that is] how. There are two ways to create a smart keyword for a site's (possessive of site) search feature -- manually, using the search URL, or automatically, by right-clicking the Web site's search box. Let's [a contraction of let us - imperative mood in the first-person plural] look at the manual method. I don't mind criticism, and I encourage members to provide feedback--positive and negative. But if you're (as in you are, which I do know is different from your--the second person possessive adjective) going to list the flaws in an article, I suggest you ensure the characterizations be accurate. Edited: Our forums have a tendency to replace apostrophes with questions marks. I fixed several of these.

thezar
thezar

"Fist" is not the same as "First" and "your" is not "you're". Please....

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

Although your search and the one I outline in the tip may produce similar results, they are completely different. Entering "site:techrepublic.com.com windows" into Google.com or into Firefox's Web Search box (the text box to the right of the address/location bar), uses Google's search engine but restricts the results to a specific domain. You also view the results on a Google page. The tip outlined above uses the site's search engine, not Google's to perform the search. It would be as if you navigated to the site and entered "windows" into the Search box that most site's have on their pages. You'll view the results directly from the site's page, without having to move from the Google results page to the site's page. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages. If the site's search feature doesn't return accurate results or the results aren't presented in meaningful way, Google might be a better option. But, if the site's search feature produces good results, this tip can save you a little time but cutting out the Google middleman.

SmartAceW0LF
SmartAceW0LF

Who pissed in your cereal this morning, dude? Chill.