Posts Tagged ‘customize’

Search Using Keywords in Firefox from the Location Bar

5 Jul 2008

Did you know that you can use the location bar of your browser for more than just web addresses?

The sections below provide instructions on increasing the utility of the Firefox location bar.

Goal: Simplified Searching and Browsing

Merge your Firefox location bar and quick search box into one powerful, customized location bar (sometimes called the “awesome bar” in Firefox 3).

Here is the Firefox location bar, search engine box, and toolbar customization menu, all shown as default in Firefox 3.  This post describes how to consolidate these two boxes.

Here is the Firefox location bar, search engine box, and toolbar customization menu, all shown as default in Firefox 3. This post describes how to consolidate these two boxes.

Firefox allows users to create and perform highly tailored keyword searches from the address/location bar (no, not the search engine box in the top right, but the location bar containing “http://…”).  I prefer to use just the location bar, since I get a little distracted with too many text boxes.  With a little effort, you can consolidate search and location entry.

Higher Web Productivity

The “awesome bar” will allow you to zip through the web using personal keyboards.  Just jump to the location bar, type in a location or any number of quick searches you add (see below), and you may be impressed just how quickly you can pull up on-demand info using this approach.  Teach your fingers at least one shortcut to get to the location bar; the following keyboard shortcuts will work (within Firefox):

Remove the Search Engine Box

The first thing I do to simplify my browsing experience in Firefox is get rid of the search engine box next to the location bar, so that I can focus on my own searches which use the location bar.  To remove it, right-click on the menu bar, click “Customize …,” then drag the search engine box into the newly opened window.

Import Useful Quick Searches

I used a Lifehacker post (Geek to Live: Fifteen Firefox Quick Searches) to help get me started.  I tailored it to my taste; you should do the same.  You can check out the Lifehacker post for their version, or continue here with my version.  Open the target bookmark files in your browser to see the difference.

  1. Right-click on the link (here) my quick search bookmarks file, choose “Save Link As…,” and make a note of where you save the file on your computer.
  2. Go to the Firefox Bookmarks menu, and choose “Organize Bookmarks…” or “Manage Bookmarks…” (depending on your version of Firefox).
  3. From the Library or Bookmarks Manager menu, choose import from either the “Import and Backup” menu or the file menu (depending on your version).  Import the HTML file you saved in step 1.  You can safely delete this file after import.

Note that if you already have keyword searches defined, you may need to check that no two bookmarks expect the same keyword; this may cause conflict.

Quick Google Searches

By default, Firefox performs a Google search if you type into the location bar terms which are not possible web locations (e.g. “”) and do not match your keyword searches (e.g. “lh firefox”).  You can rely on that, but you will get more consistent results if you explicitly define a Google quick search with a keyword (I use “go” or “google”).

Easily Add Any Search

You can easily expand your keyword searching while you browse the web.  Whenever you see a search box on a web page,

  • right-click within the search box, select “Add a Keyword for this Search …”
  • add a name and a keyword
  • designate the “Create in” folder to be Quick Searches -> Personal or your favorite folder for personal quick searches.
  • (See Mozilla’s explanation for more details.)

Video Tutorial

Video Source:

Version Details

I have used these tips with both Firefox version 2 and version 3.

Further Reading