Google Chrome has spread the concept of the Omnibox: merging a browser’s URL bar with the search bar. Type anything, and it’ll access one of these 5 sources:
- Search Engine
- Related sites
It works as most address bars nowadays, and even adds 2 features:
- being a Google product, Chrome has the exclusivity of holding the Google Suggest feature directly in the address bar
- Chrome “learns” new search engines. Repeatdly using a search field on a website gives it easy access by pressing Tab.
But I still prefer the Firefox address bar. It already works as a search engine: any query will end up as a Google search.
What about other search engines?
Firefox is shipped with a default search bar with Google, Yahoo, Amazon… But the address bar can work as a substitute considering the well-known feature “Add a Keyword for this Search”: right-click any search field and add a keyword for it to make it available in the address bar by typing
Whereas Chrome’s search engines add themselves automatically after a few uses, it has to be done manually in Firefox. It can help defining really short keywords for any search engine. I’ve got
g for Google,
i for Google Images,
w for WikiPedia,
d for the Free Dictionary,
en to translate from/to French to/from English… It just takes some organization and memory to make full use of this feature.
But what I love most about Firefox’s address bar is its incremental search. It looks through the history and bookmarks (and bookmark tags) by using keywords separated by spaces:
local+ project name = access a project on the localhost
- blog name +
admin= access the admin area of a remote website
tw+ username = access a previously visited twitter profile
wri= access a NY Times article about writing you’ve already read but don’t remember the exact tile
desi= access all bookmarks tagged ‘iphone’ and ‘design’
It really comes in handy when trying to find a page you’ve visited but only remember part of the title or the url. Type a few keywords (or even partial keywords) and the result list will narrow down rapidly.
Chrome works slightly that way too but provides a maximum of 6 results, and favors the search too much over the bookmarks and history. But it shouldn’t be a surprise considering the identity of its author.