Sunday, March 04, 2007

A use for Google's I'm feeling lucky

Firefox is an awesome browser. And I suspect a lot of people don't know about one of it's most useful features: keyword based bookmarks. Why are they useful? Lets see

A simple example

Lets say you really like google reader. You could setup a keyword like "r" associated with a bookmark to google reader. Once you do that, if you ever type "r" in the address bar, you will be taken there.

A more exciting example:

This one is usually build into firefox

In the address bar type "google food", and your browser will search google for food.

I prefer this method because I hate it when a browser automatically searches for something from the address bar. If the address I entered is not valid, I want to know its not valid.

Still more exciting example:

I have the following keywords setup in my firefox:
  • g - search google - in the address bar i can type "g food"
  • m - search google maps - example: "m san jose, ca to palo alto, ca" will bring back google map's directions. Or "m chinese food near Morgan Hill, CA"
  • a - search - I use this one to lookup word definitions all the time. "a exculpate" to find the definition for exculpate.
  • w - search wikipedia using google - wikipedia's search engine sucks. It doesnt have any of the useful features of google (like spelling correction). "w chinese food"
  • wl - search wikipedia using google's I'm Feeling Lucky - "wl chinese food" takes me straight to wikipedia's Chinese Cuisine page. As you can see, google's search is smart enough to turn "food" into "cuisine".

You might be saying "BUT Abtin, I just use firefox's google search box. Why would I want to use your stupid method?" Because the real power of my method comes to light when you combine it with the keyboard shortcut alt+d.

Alt+d selects the entire contents of the address bar. So if you press it, then type something, what you type replaces what is in the address bar.

So lets say I am on a page reading about polar bears. If I want info from wikipedia about polar bears, all I do is press alt+d, type "wl polar bears", and voila, I am on the wikipedia page about polar bears.

So How Do I Setup these shortcuts?

Here we go

  1. Open Firefox
  2. Open the Bookmarks menu
  3. Select Organize Bookmarks
  4. Click on "New Bookmark" on the toolbar.

  5. Under name, enter "Google Quicksearch"
  6. Under location, enter ""
  7. Under keyword, enter "g"
  8. you can leave description blank

  9. leave "Load this bookmark in the sidebar" unchecked.

  10. Thats it! Now you can type "g chinese food" to search google for chinese food.
Other useful searches

Name: Google Maps Quicksearch
Keyword: m

Name: quicksearch
Keyword: a

Name: Wikipedia Quicksearch
Location: %s
Keyword: w

Name Wikipedia I'm feeling Lucky Quicksearch
Location: %s&btnI=I%27m+Feeling+Lucky
Keyword: wl

Personally, I like to put all these quicksearches into their own bookmark folder.


This is most efficient when combined with pressing alt+d to select the content of the address bar.

Happy Hunting,