How To Create Custom Search Engines In Google Chrome

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chromesearchNo matter how hard I looked, I couldn’t find a custom search box in the Google Chrome browser. Even Internet Explorer has a search box, so why shouldn’t Chrome?

In developing the browser, Google did away with the separate search box, if not with the functionality. It was only in confrontation with my own ignorance that I rediscovered this feature.

You’ve probably discovered how you can launch a Google search directly from your address bar. Using keywords and a few minutes work in advance, you can also set up custom search engines. In this article, we’ll explain how to configure and use this feature, as well as how to change the default and create a custom search engine.

Using Keywords For a Custom Search Engine

To use one of your custom search engines, you have to precede the query with a special keyword. How to assign this keyword, we’ll show in a minute.

To illustrate, when I want to search MakeUseOf, I simply type ‘makeuseof <search query>’. The uses can be extremely diverse, and in general hugely speed up your browsing process. When writing an article, I but have to type ‘dict <strange english word>’ to get a dictionary explanation. Similarly, you can use keywords to search YouTube, Flickr, eBay, Craigslist, Facebook, FilesTube, DeviantArt, and whatnot.

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custom search engine chrome

By default, Google Chrome uses the site’s domain and extension as keyword (e.g., but it’s highly advised to devise your own keywords – things that are easy to remember and quick to type, like ‘dict’, ‘goog’, ‘yout’, ‘subs’, and so on. In the end, it all comes down to preference and ease of use.

Adding a Custom Search Engine

Now you’re warmed up to the idea, here’s how to add a custom search engine. The instructions below should work on both Mac and Windows.

The easiest way to open the search preferences window is to right-click (Mac: ctrl+click) in the address bar and select ‘Edit Search Engines…‘ – alternatively, you can also go to Preferences -> Default Search: Manage.

custom search engine

A preferences pane much like the one below should pop up. You’ll notice (to your big surprise?) that a lot of different search engines have already been added. This is because Chrome automatically adds search engines to the list after you search from a site. Most of the ones you’re looking to add are probably already there, but you need to change the keyword.

custom search engine

Otherwise, it’s pretty easy to add a search engine manually. You just need to supply the name, keyword and URL. Not simply the site URL, mind. You’ll need to show Chrome where to insert the search string.

To find the correct URL, simply launch a search on the site, and take a look at the address bar. You’ll need to replace your own search query with %s to create the search URL for Chrome. Perhaps even easier, you should be able to search for ‘%s’ on the site, and just copy the entire URL.

Changing the keyword (or any of the other options) afterwards is as easy as double clicking on a search engine.

Screen shot 2010-02-11 at 19.24.55

To create a new default search engine, simply select one from the list and press ‘Make Default‘ in the bottom right corner. If you want a Firefox-like search experience, you can create a custom feeling lucky search, and make it default. As easy as that.

Do you have any other Chrome productivity tips? Let us know in the comments!

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