How to Add Search Keywords to Safari for Faster, More Specific Searches

By Justin Pot on March 17th, 2017

Most people use one search engine—Google, DuckDuckGo, etc.—to find things online. But sometimes you want to quickly search Amazon, ask a question of Wolfram Alpha, or find a video on YouTube, all without the extra step of going to that site first.

If you’re using Chrome, you can set up search keywords to search specific sites from the address bar. There’s no way to do that by default in Safari, but a free Safari extension called Safari Keyword Search makes it easy to search a number of sites. So typing y kittens in the address bar searches YouTube for kittens or typing wa warp 9 asks Wolfram Alpha how fast Warp 9 is.

Here’s how to set up this power, and how to customize it.

Installing Safari Keyword Search

We’ll be using an open-source extension called Safari Keyword  Search to make this happen. Head to the Safari Keyword Search homepage and download the extension. It comes in the form of a .safariextz file.

Open the file and Safari will ask if you want to install it.

Click “Trust,” assuming that you do trust the extension. The source code is on GitHub if you’re interested.

Running a Search Using the Default Keywords

The extension, by default, supports 12 keywords. Put a keyword at the front of your search queries and Safari will use that search engine. For example, if you want to ask Wolfram Alpha what Warp 9 is, you only need to type wa warp 9 in the address bar, then hit “Enter.”

Wolfram Alpha will open with your information.

You’ll need to learn the keywords in order to use this, but for the most part they’re straight forward. Here’s the default list:

  • a: amazon.com
  • d: duckduckgo.com
  • down: downforeveryoneorjustme.com
  • e: ebay.com
  • g: google.com
  • gl: google.com (using “I’m feeling lucky”)
  • gm: maps.google.com
  • imdb: imdb.com
  • so: stackoverflow.com
  • w: en.wikipedia.org
  • wa: wolframalpha.com
  • y: youtube.com

If all you want is to quickly search one of these sites, you’re done. But you can take things a little bit further if you like.

Adding Your Own Search Engines

To customize your list of search engines, right-click on any site. You’ll see an option for “Keyword Search Settings.”

Click this and the settings screen will open.

To add a new search query, click the “+” button at the bottom-left. A new item will be created, which you’ll need to fill in.

You’ll need two things: a keyword and a search URL. The keyword is easy: just choose a short term for launching searches.

The URL is a little more complicated. If you just want Google to search a specific site for you, adding https://www.google.com/#q=@@@+site:howtogeek.com&\* works—just replace “howtogeek.com” with whatever site it is you want Google to search.

But creating direct links for any site isn’t hard. Just go to any site, then search for a specific word; I like to use “asdf.” After running the search, look at the URL.

Replace your search term in the URL (in this case, asdf ) with @@@ and you’ve got the URL you need for Safari Keyword Search.

Once you set up the keyword and the URL, click “Save” and you can start using the new keyword immediately. Enjoy!

Justin Pot is a staff writer for How-To Geek, and a technology enthusiast who lives in Hillsboro, Oregon. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, if you want. You don't have to.

  • Published 03/17/17
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