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How to Speed Up Web Browsing with Search & Bookmark Keywords

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All browsers support keywords, which you can type into your address bar to quickly search or visit websites. Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Internet Explorer all have their own methods of setting keywords, some more hidden than others.

Internet Explorer’s keyword features are particularly hard to find, relying on a registry hack and a little-known bookmark feature. Google Chrome makes this easier, although setting a bookmark keyword requires a trick. Firefox makes this easiest of all.

Mozilla Firefox – Search Keywords

Firefox doesn’t include any predefined search keywords. To assign a search keyword, open the search box’s drop-down menu and select Manage Search Engines.

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Select an installed search engine and click the Edit Keyword button.

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For example, you can assign the keyword g to Google. Keywords can be a single letter or multiple letters.

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Once you’ve assigned a search keyword, you can quickly search in that search engine from the address bar. For example, if we assigned the keyword g to Google, we could type g test into the address bar to quickly search Google for the word “test.”

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Mozilla Firefox – Bookmark Keywords

You can also assign keywords to bookmarks. First, open the bookmarks library window by clicking the Bookmarks or Show All Bookmarks options in the Firefox menu.

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Next, locate and select the bookmark you want to assign a keyword to. Click the More button to reveal the keyword option.

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Enter a keyword in the Keyword box. For example, we can assign the keyword htg to How-To Geek.

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After assigning the keyword,type it into the address bar to instantly open the bookmark. For example, we can type htg to open How-To Geek if we assigned the keyword above.

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Google Chrome – Search Keywords

To assign a search keyword in Chrome, right-click in Chrome’s location bar and select Edit search engines.

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By default, each search engine has its domain name as a keyword.

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This means that you can type the website’s domain name into the address bar, press space, and type your search query to search that website.

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You can also assign a shorter keyword. For example, you could assign the keyword ddg to DuckDuckGo. Then, you could type ddg into the location bar, press space, and type your search query.

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Google Chrome – Bookmark Keywords

There’s no obvious way to assign a keyword to a bookmark in Chrome. However, you can use the search keyword method to assign a keyword to any website.

Create a new search engine using the Add a new search engine box. However, instead of specifying a special URL with a %s in it, just type a web page’s address. Here we’re assigning the keyword htg to How-To Geek.

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Type your keyword – htg in this case –  into the location bar, press Enter, and you’ll be taken to the website.

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Internet Explorer – Search Keywords

Internet Explorer’s Quick Search feature allows you to define search keywords. In Windows XP, you could use Microsoft’s Tweak UI tool to create and customize IE quick searches. In newer versions of Windows, this feature is only configurable from the registry – it still works in Internet Explorer 9, though.

First, find the search URL of the search engine you want to add. Let’s say we want to add DuckDuckGo. We’d go to DuckDuckGo’s website and perform a search for TEST, or another obvious word.

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After performing the search, we’ll look at the address bar for the search URL.

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In this case, the URL is:

http://duckduckgo.com/?q=TEST

We’ll replace our query with %s, which means that our search URL is:

http://duckduckgo.com/?q=%s

Now we have all the information we need. Fire up Notepad or another text editor and enter the following text to add DuckDuckGo:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchUrl\ddg]
@=”http://duckduckgo.com/?q=%s”
“:”=”%3A”

The important options are bolded. Here, we’ve assigned the keyword ddg to the search engine at http://duckduckgo.com/?q=%s. Change these two strings to your desired keyword and search engine URL.

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Save the file with the .reg file extension.

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Double-click the .reg file and click Yes to add it to your registry.

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After adding the .reg file, your keyword will immediately be available in Internet Explorer. For example, we could type ddg geek into the address bar and press Enter to perform a search for “geek” on DuckDuckGo.

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Internet Explorer – Bookmark Keywords

Microsoft doesn’t advertise this feature, but every favorite’s name functions as a keyword. To assign a keyword to a web page, add the web page as a favorite in Internet Explorer.

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Enter your desired keyword as the favorite’s name.

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Type the name of the favorite into address bar and press Enter to go there immediately.

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If you already have the web page saved as a favorite, you can right-click it to rename it. You can also create multiple favorites that point to the same web page, each with a different name.

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To add more search engines to your browser – whether or not they offer search plugins – check out our guide to adding any search engine to your browser.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 05/20/12

Comments (6)

  1. Arston

    My favourite: search the current site with google.

    Imagine you’re on http://www.howtogeek.com and you want to search the site for “ponies” with google. You would normally go to google and type [b]ponies site:www.howtogeek.com[/b]. Though if you make a custom search engine, you can just type [b]cs ponies[/b] while in the website. I won’t tell you how useful this is if you’re making a research and are visiting tons of websites, many with either crappy search functionality or none at all.

    So here it is:
    for URL in the search engines type

    [b]javascript:void(location.href=’http://www.google.com/search?q=%s&domains=’+location.hostname+’&sitesearch=’+location.hostname)[/b]

    source: http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/chrome/discuss-chrome/dDVvmcN2GGk

  2. WandersFar

    Rather than setting up search engines manually, set DuckDuckGo as your default search engine, and use all these bangs directly from your browser:

    https://duckduckgo.com/bang.html

    It’s better, imo, because if you ever lose your profile for whatever reason, you don’t have to tediously rebuild your list of search engine keywords, you can just reset DDG as your default search and you’re good to go.

  3. Gavin

    Note that Firefox has even ways to create these:

    Right-clicking on any search box will give you an option to “Add a keyword for this search” which will generate a bookmark as a search keyword.

    Using a userstyle like (http://userstyles.org/styles/9029/keyword-addition-for-add-change-bookmark-fx3) will show a box for keyword in the original bookmark popup, for easy editing outside of the bookmark manager.

  4. Steve

    How did you get “How-to Geek” into the Firefox list of search engines?

  5. Nathan

    You forgot the awesome Firefox trick of right clicking in a search field on a website and clicking on Add a Keyword for this Search. It doesn’t have to be a search engine from Firefox’s search box. You can also do this manually by looking for the search term in the url of the results page and replacing it with “%s”.

  6. Chris Hoffman

    @Steve

    See this post: http://www.howtogeek.com/114176/how-to-easily-create-search-plugins-add-any-search-engine-to-your-browser/

    @Gavin, Nathan

    Thanks for pointing that out! Another great method.

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