3 Ways To Enhance Google Chrome’s Custom Search

customize chrome searchIn terms of browsing speed and flexibility, Google Chrome has long been my favorite browser. A lot of this speed comes from the browser itself. The remaining speed is the result of its extensibility. Our best of Google Chrome extensions page barely scratches the surface.

Another – and vastly underrated – way to crank up your Google Chrome browser is by using Chrome’s custom search engines. By using a preset keyword, you can search almost any website through Chrome’s omnibar. These custom search engines are added to your browser automatically as you browse the web, but we also showed you how to add your own search engines to the list.

Adding the search engine of Wikipedia, Facebook, or your favorite blog is a good way to start, but you don’t have to stop there. You can use Chrome’s custom search to launch more than just simple search queries.

First, The Basics

Google Chrome’s custom search engines are accessible through the preferences. Open Chrome’s settings page, and scroll down to the ‘Search‘ preferences. Click ‘Manage search engines…‘ to open the custom search panel. Here you’ll be able to see all the search engines that are currently active in your instance of Chrome.

customize chrome search

At the bottom of the ‘other search engines’, there are three input fields you can use to add your own search engine to Chrome. Add the website’s name, the keyword you want to use to access it through Chrome’s omnibar, and the search URL. For more information, take a look at the original tutorial, How To Create Custom Search Engines in Google Chrome.

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1. Bookmark Shortcuts

Only half of my custom search engines are actually search engines. The rest of the list is, for the most part, comprised of my ‘special’ bookmarks, those websites that I visit almost daily. Instead of clicking through your bookmarks folder, or wasting screen real estate on a bookmarks bar, you can use Google Chrome’s omnibar to access those bookmarks on the fly.

chrome custom search

We accomplish this by adding the bookmark as if it were a ‘dumb’ search engine. That is, the improbable idea of a search engine that doesn’t accept arguments. Just add a search engine to Google Chrome with a simple keyword and the bookmark’s URL.

Now, launching a website is as simple as entering the keyword in Google Chrome’s address bar, and hitting enter. This is especially useful for webpages that use bigger, complex URLs.

2. JavaScript Bookmarklets

Bookmarklets are short pieces of JavaScript code that you add to a bookmark. Pressing the bookmark executes the script to do its magic. Bookmarklets are a faster, leaner alternative to simple browser extensions. Among other things, you can use bookmarklets to shorten the URL of the current page, clip an article to Evernote or Facebook, convert a webpage to EPUB, or look for the currently selected word on Wikipedia.

customize chrome search

Making a bookmarklet accessible through Chrome’s address bar is very similar to what we did above. Just add the bookmarklet JavaScript code in the URL space and devise a keyword to access it.

Make sure the code is prefixed with javascript:’. Google Chrome removes this keyword for safety reasons if you use copy the bookmarklet script.

Looking for inspiration? Take a look at Ellie’s take on the 20 must-have bookmarklets, or browse through other MakeUseOf bookmarklet articles.

3. Multiple Keyword Queries

By default, you’re only able to launch search queries with a single parameter (or none at all, like we did above). This is fine if you’re looking something up on Wikipedia, but doesn’t suffice if you’re looking for driving directions between two addresses.

javascript:  var s='%s';  url='YOUR URL, WITH %s's FOR EACH TERM';  query='';  urlchunks=url.split('%s');  schunks=s.split(';');  for(i=0; i<schunks.length; i++)query+=urlchunks[i]+schunks[i];  location.replace(query);

First provided by LifeHacker for Firefox, and adapted to Google Chrome by Jon the Geek, the JavaScript snippet shown above works neatly around that restriction. Insert your search URL in the code, with ‘%s’ used to indicate each parameter, and add the JavaScript to a custom search engine like we did before. Using a semicolon (;) to delimit the parameters, you can do a multi-parameter search (e.g. Argument-1;Argument-2).

How are you using Google Chrome’s custom search? Let us know in the comments section below the article!

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