Save Time and Space With Firefox Keyword Shortcuts

Did you know there's a great way to save time when searching the internet or calling up bookmarks every day?  Because we geeks search so often, the minutes sure add up.

In case you might be thinking, no, not the cumbersome and bulky toolbars companies are pushing these days.  Nor do I recommend using the search bar shown by default on the major browsers.  All any of them really accomplish is to waste valuable screen real-estate, space that could be much better allocated to whatever new fetish you're into this week.

Keyword Shortcuts

What we're talking about here is the use of keyword shortcuts in Firefox and its less well-known uncle, Seamonkey.  What are they?  Simply a keyword that you'll assign to a Bookmark entry in the browser.  They can also be given parameters, which allows us to create one to search more efficiently.  Once configured, searching a site is as easy as typing a few characters.  You'll never have to take your hands off the keyboard, which speeds things up considerably.

Let's take a look at how cool they are and how to get started.  Consider this example usage:
  1. First, get your browser ready.
    • Optionally, hit Ctrl+T, which opens a new tab and places the input focus on the location bar.
    • To replace the current tab, use Alt+D, F6, or the mouse to get to the bar instead.
  2. Next, you'll type something like "keyword query_terms" into the bar. 
    Some examples:
    • g foot porn
      Search google for a topic of interest.
    • i blade runner
      Search IMDB on the movie.
    • a Mr. Beer
      Does Amazon recommend it?

    If you are already familiar with these you'll know that yes, there are a few standard ones configured by default, for example "goog,"  but they are unnecessarily long in my opinion.  Why should I use four-letter keywords when I'm only using a handful of them?  So personally, I use single-letter keywords, perhaps only moving to two-letters on popular letter.  Of course, if longer keywords help you remember them better, don't let me discourage you.

    Below are some of my short versions of the most popular:
    Bookmark URL

    Ok great, so let's get them set up.  For searching, what we need to do is get the search URL of our favorite site, and replace the query parameter value with "%s".  See that in the URLs above?  You may recognize this as a printf format-specifier string that gets replaced by a variable.  As you may realize, this process isn't always easy.   Usually, after a search is done you can scoop this URL right from the location bar, replacing your query with "%s".  In some difficult sites however, you might have to go so far as have to dig through the page source to find out the correct query if it has been hidden.

    Don't worry though, I'm going to show you a few tricks to bypass the grunt work and get setup down to a few clicks per site.

    Setup Time Savers

    I've just mentioned the best setup time saver from the old days, which is capturing the URL after doing the search.

    Consider yourself lucky as I've already done it for many popular and useful sites.  Here is a link to an html file in Mozilla (née Netscape) bookmark format so you won't have to reinvent the wheel for these.  Download then import this file into the bookmark manager (at Bookmarks Menu/Organize Bookmarks/Import, in 3.5) and it will set up the examples above as well as Amazon, Youtube, Thesaurus.com, Snopes, and Urban Dictionary.

    But wait, there's more!

    It gets even easier with this killer new feature:  Right-click on the search field of a favorite site, and note the "Add a keyword for this Search ..."  item of the context menu.  This does the grunt work automatically.  A little dialog opens, where you can name the keyword and save it in one step.  Brilliant.

    Now, you can remove the search bar from your browser and free up that wasted space.  Just right click on the toolbar, choose "Customize..."  from the menu, and then drag the wasteful bar off the the dialog.  You'll never miss it.  While the search bar can only search Google, maybe Yahoo, or Bing, with Keyword searches, you can search anything, anywhere.

    Additional Information:

    No comments:

    Post a Comment