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firefox searchfHow often do you search the web? By profession, I use Google search no less than twice per hour, I guess. That said, I search the web constantly.

Therefore optimizing my browser for search was the first thing I did when installing it. Since then I’ve been looking for more and more ways to access the search features easily and instantly in FireFox.

Now let’s see which methods I have come up with to make my FireFox search-friendly:

1. Install the Google Toolbar

The most obvious way to access Google search.

Google toolbar

Besides allowing you to access Google search instantly, it also has a number of other handy features:

  • search suggestions (based on your search history and/or popular queries);
  • search multiple verticals (image search, news search, blog search, etc);
  • search term highlight;
  • spell check, etc.

Its major drawback is that it only allows you to search Google (and there are other search engines and sites you might want to search).

2. Take advantage of FireFox search plugins

You can search the huge directory of search plugins or create your own (and that’s where your own imagination is your only limit). Let’s take a quick look at how you can create your own search plugin for any search engine or site you refer to daily:

  • search the site you are creating the plugin for;
  • copy the query string;
  • change your search term in the query string for {searchTerms};
  • go to and complete the form as shown below;

Create search plugin

  • test (install and perform a few searches) your plugin before submitting;
  • click “generate” and you are done!

As you understand you can include any search parameters, use advanced search or play to your heart’s content to create the search that fully satisfies your needs.

3. Use FireFox “smart keywords” feature

(it allows you to search right from the address bar).

To create a FireFox smart keyword you need to:

  • Search any site / search engine you are interested in [keyword];
  • Copy the URL of the query string;
  • Substitute keyword in the query string for %s;
  • Go: Bookmarks > Organize Bookmarks => New Bookmark;
  • Create new search bookmark the following way:

Firefox smart keywords

Alternatively, you can go to YubNub, install its search plugin and either use multiple quick searches already created there or create your own ones using a simple wizard.

4. Use The CyberSearch FireFox plugin (download it here).

Another way to search from the address bar.  It supports multiple Google services and also displays your related search history (again, it’s limited to Google only):


To access different Google services, use these commands before the search query:

  • gweb – Google general search;
  • gloc – Google local search;
  • gvid – Google video search;
  • gblog – Google blog search;
  • gnews – Google news search;
  • gbook – Google book search;
  • gimg – Google image search;
  • gpat – Google patent search.

5. Tweak your FireFox about:config settings.

Yet another way to search from the address bar. (tip by FireFox facts).

  • type into your address bar about:config;
  • filter keyword.URL;
  • modify the string in there and replace it with your preferred engine search string, e.g.

6. Use Search Bookmarklets

Use search bookmarklets to access your preferred search engine by selecting any term on a page:

or to easily switch between search engines:

7. Search Highlighted Words With Multiple Engines

Search the highlighted word using multiple search engines: KallOut


Kallout is a new awesome desktop application that allows you to search for any highlighted term (integrates with FireFox, Outlook, txt files, etc). With it you can choose between multiple verticals (general search, shopping portals, reference resources, etc) and search engines (Google, Yahoo, Live, Twitter, etc).

8. Search The Web (Or Any Website) With One Searchy

An experimental FireFox addon (thus you will have to login to install it). Just hit a shortcut (by default: Ctrl+Shift+K) and search without having to leave the current page. Search results will appear as you are typing your search term. To search any site, type @ before the search term and you will be shown results from the current domain:

8 Tips To Make FireFox Search Friendly searchy

Have I missed anything? Maybe you can find more tips like this in the MUO Firefox manual! Please add your own way to search with the FireFox browser!

Image credits: Fun with FireFox

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  1. DBob
    January 11, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    Now that I'm back in FF, I thoroughly recommend two
    FF extensions:
    surf canyon which allows you to fine tune google results
    and get more of the same type through their bullseye; surf canyon starts recommending results too
    juice, which allows you to highlight a search term (s)
    and through a mouse gesture to get results to open up
    in a right side loading sidebar; it seems to read my
    mind. You can also highlight videos and photos for later.

  2. Gal Szkolnik
    December 29, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    It seems to me that you omitted one very original and very powerful firefox searching tool: lookpicks which is hosted at

    It's a server based search engine repository, where you select your search engine from a list which is specific for you.

    It's delicious meets open-search-fox meets foxmarks altogether.

    I highly recommend this piece of originality. and I'm sure to test at least one or two of your suggestions too.

    Thanks for the post and this great site!

    • DanHen
      January 11, 2009 at 5:53 pm

      Lookpicking is very cool indeed! TY for sharing.

  3. l3utterfish
    December 28, 2008 at 11:17 am

    yubnub, and your searches would never be the sAME


  4. Gerald Weber
    December 28, 2008 at 8:54 am


    This is a very cool list. I have already been using the Kall Out for a couple of weeks. That one is really cool!

  5. mrintech
    December 28, 2008 at 6:33 am

    Cybersearch plugin is new for me. Thanks for sharing :)

  6. Shivu
    December 28, 2008 at 3:55 am

    Is there any way I can change my comments guys, a small correction has to be made, it should be "so that" instead of "cus" in above comment. Please make a provision to correct comments.

  7. Shivu
    December 28, 2008 at 3:37 am

    You forgot one great thing your awesome bar can do to you.

    Try this,instead of searching Dark Knight in google or imdb, you can directly go to that page by searching "dark knight imdb"(without quote) in Awesome bar. It works with any article on wikipedia (just say "article_name wikipedia" in address bar), people search on facebook(just search "barack obama facebook" ),any artist search on and list goes on.

    And the keyword can be placed anywhere ie "imdb dark knight" or "dark imdb knight" will take you to same page. What happens exactly is when you search in address bar, it will connect to google and top of the result will be shown directly. So it doesn't work with spelling mistakes and custom searches sorry.

    So I removed search box in firefox and use only awesome bar for everything. And I put close & reload bar after address bar 'cus I shouldn't be having any confusion when i switch to google chrome. It doesn't work with Chrome & Opera. Some say that firefox address bar is not awesome bar, it really is AWESOME. Firefox rocks.

  8. JardeLGs
    December 27, 2008 at 11:42 pm

    This addon making easy to add new site on search box.

  9. Ijaar
    December 27, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    Can't you do most of these by Chrome without installing any add-in or extension?

  10. bjhanifin
    December 27, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    One word "Ubiquity". Look into it. ;)

    It has a ton of wonderful functionality. One of which is you can highlight a word or phrase, hit Alt + Space, and type google and [Enter] and the text you selected on the page will be searched in Google.

  11. Wandering Author
    December 27, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    Diigo ( has a great toolbar with extremely customisable search options - you can add any search you want, organise them by category, and define the default search for each category. It is the most powerful, flexible way to search I've found yet (and Diigo gives you a lot more functions, highly useful to researchers of all stripes, you can use on the pages you locate).

    • Ann Smarty
      December 28, 2008 at 6:02 am

      Thanks! I will definitely look at it!

  12. Steve
    December 27, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    The easier way to create a smart keyword is to right-click inside the search box of the site you are searching, then click 'Add a Keyword for this Search'. Type the keywrd of your choice in the Add Bookmark window which appears, & you're done.

    • Ann Smarty
      December 28, 2008 at 6:01 am

      A great tip! Thanks a lot!

      • Dbob
        December 28, 2008 at 12:33 pm

        Thanks for your article and responsiveness.

        I vacillate between firefox and chrome.
        And, miss FF's versatility and search options.
        But, have added several bookmarklets, specifically designed for chrome, in a folder added to my bookmarks bar in chrome.

        So far, several
        of the bookmarklets mentioned in your article (search within domain and wayback machine) seem to function within chrome.

        A request for you coders out there, how about
        making some more search oriented bookmarklets
        and/or extensions duplicating FF extensions.

        You'll be famous, if not rich!

  13. anonymous
    December 27, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    Sherlock (@ Mycroft project) is obsolete since firefox 2.0. Opensearch has been used since.