Use Firefox's address bar for quick keyword searches

Smart keywords have been around since Firefox 1.0 and are a powerful but overlooked feature of the browser. They practically turn the address bar into a command line, allowing you to quickly access bookmarks and search favorite Web sites, without any additional plug-ins.

Mozilla's online documentation describes how to use smart keywords, but here's a summary. Right-click almost any Web site's search box and select "Add a Keyword for this Search" to bookmark that site. Unlike with most bookmarks, you'll be also be able to associate a shortcut word with this bookmark. Next time you're in Firefox's address bar, entering that shortcut followed by a search query will function the same as manually navigating to that site and inputting your search terms into the search box you've bookmarked. (Similar functionality can be added to Safari with the Saft plugin.)

For example, looking for a YouTube video about lolcats is as easy as typing

you lolcats

Similarly, the latest Computerworld stories to feature Amazon Kindle as a phrase can be found with

cw "amazon kindle"

You could perform a similar search by clicking Firefox's inbuilt search box and choosing a different search engine from the dropdown — but if, like me, you prefer to keep your hands on the keyboard, then smart keywords are the way to go.

For your convenience, I've created a bookmarks file you can download and import into your own Firefox profile. Just right-click (or control-click) this bookmarks file, save it to your computer, then go to Firefox's "Organize Bookmarks" window and choose "Import HTML". Doing so will add the following 27 searches:

gotoGoogle "I'm Feeling Lucky"
acroAcronym Finder
rhyRhyming Dictionary
urbanUrban Dictionary
isongApple iTunes search by song title (requires iTunes)
iartistApple iTunes search by artist (requires iTunes)
ialbum Apple iTunes search by album title (requires iTunes)
rtRotten Tomatoes movie site
imdbInternet Movie Database (movies, actors, characters, etc.)
stStar Trek Memory Alpha wiki
osxhMac OS X Hints
arcInternet Archive Wayback Machine
ipIP address
whoisdomain name registry lookup

The above list is tailored to what I have found useful; surely there will be others you'll want to add. Share your favorites in the comments below!

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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