How-To Geek

Make Firefox Built-In Search Box Use Google’s Experimental Search Keys

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Google has just released a new experimental search that lets you navigate through search results using the same shortcut keys as Gmail and Google Reader. The problem is that Firefox’s default search box doesn’t default to it.

Check out the keyboard shortcut goodness… use J and K for next/previous results, O to open and / to move back to the search box (extremely cool for when you don’t find anything with the first search)

I’m sure that Google or somebody else will eventually release a search plugin that enables this by default.

Update:Thanks to Gina @ Lifehacker, you can get the plugin goodness without having to manually modify anything. My technique still works, but it’s probably easier to use Gina’s plugin.

If you still want to do it manually, navigate to your Firefox installation directory, and open the searchplugins folder.


Essentially all we’re going to do is add the bolded line to the google.xml file, which you can download here, or edit it yourself.

—- snipped for length —-
<Param name=”q” value=”{searchTerms}”/>
<Param name=”ie” value=”utf-8″/>
<Param name=”oe” value=”utf-8″/>
<Param name=”aq” value=”t”/>
<Param name=”esrch” value=”BetaShortcuts”/>

Make sure you backup the existing file before you replace it with this one, restarting Firefox when you are done.

You can see that the search suggestions still work, but now you will be sent to the experimental search instead of the regular one. 

Thanks to Lifehacker for pointing me to this one.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 05/16/07

Comments (2)

  1. Isaac

    Hi. Would you know which line to modify to make this work in Seamonkey? I modified the regular Google Search .src to open the “with Shortcuts” Experimental page instead, however, I can’t figure out how to change the file so that the search term gets inputted in the text box to be automatically searched.

    # Mozilla/Google plug-in by


  2. Bartosz

    On linux you’ve gotta go to /usr/lib/firefox-addons/searchplugins and edit the file in there (if you want to make it a default for all the users). You can probably also override the google’s search engine within your local profile directory.

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