Get the most out of your Firefox Search Bar

For the Tuesday Think Tank this week, I’m departing slightly from the planned HTML topic to talk about something that can help you diversify your searching – the Firefox Search Bar.

It is that thing that you always see at the upper right of your window in Firefox (usually next to the address bar on the Navigation Toolbar). In previous versions of Firefox, you could hide the bar and a popup would appear, but they changed that in Firefox 2.0.

In fact, There was a time when I was against upgrading my browser, because of it not allowing the popup. However, soon after posting that, I installed the new version and have come to love the redesigned search box. It is actually one of the most powerful tools that come with Firefox now, in my opinion.

One of the coolest features is the ability to add as many search engines as you want to it. As it stands right now, these are the search engines in my search bar –

List of Search Engines

Most of these engines have been added when I’ve visited various sites, and for the most part, I’ve kept it fairly stable with what is in there; in fact, most of the additions to the bar have been made over the last couple of days.

How do I add a search?

It’s fairly simple to add a search to the search bar. There are a couple of ways to do it.

Directly Adding at a search site

The first, and most common, way is to go to, say, Technorati – and take a look at the upper right of your browser window. It’ll look something like this –

The Blue Box

Click on the blue box, and your list of search options will pop up, with something added to the bottom –

add Technorati search

Click on Add “Technorati Search”, and Firefox adds it to your list of engines and selects it –

New Search in browser

Adding Search Engines via Mycroft Project

You’ll probably have noticed by now the last item in the menu for search engines – Manage Search Engines. When you select that, a quite powerful window is brought up.

Manage search engines

Here, you can move the search engines in your list around, delete search engines, and gain quick access to the Mycroft Project. All you need to do is click on Get more search engines… and you will be taken to Firefox’s main Search Engine add-on page.

At the bottom of the page, there is a link to Browse through more search engines at mycroft.mozilla.org – simply click on that link, and you’ll be taken there. Now, you can search for your favorite site. For example, if I wanted to find a plugin for Dogpile (a site which doesn’t automatically pop up the blue box), I’d search for it and be sent to a result page.

When at the result page, click on the version of the search engine you’re looking for and a window will pop up verifying that you want to install that search engine.

Confirm install of a new search engine

Click Start using it right away if you want it to be your search engine of choice right away, or else you can just install it and switch to it later. 🙂

How do I change the Search Engine I use?

That’s a simple process. Just know that when you change the search engine in the upper right, you change the engine that you use when you do a right-click search. For example, with Technorati as the default search, I can search for words I come across on a website by selecting them and right clicking, which will bring up this menu (which I will add is quite a bit longer than most right-click menus 😉 ) –

Context Search

To change the search engine that you use for both types of searches, it’s as simple as going back up to the upper right and clicking on the icon of the current search (the same place that you click when it turned blue), and select your new search engine.

Using the search bar

To use the search bar, you can do one of three things – first, click on the bar and type your search in. If you prefer to use the keyboard, you have two shortcuts – Ctrl+E and Ctrl+K, both of which focus to the search bar. Type your search in and hit enter or click on the magnifying glass. A new tab will open up for you which will have your search in it.

Over to you

Taking advantage of the phenomenal tool is quite simple. If you haven’t tried it out yet, give it a go, and let me know what you think in the comments. 🙂

Also, as always, Snoskred and I are open to suggestions for future topics to be covered in a Tech Tuesday Think Tank. If you have something you’d like to be explained, feel free to drop a line via the Contact form. 🙂

3 thoughts on “Get the most out of your Firefox Search Bar

  1. Well, if Scroogle would have some of the things like phone number lookups and being able to type in an address to get a map from the search, I’d probably ditch Google from the search box. However, I am using Scroogle almost exclusively now 😉

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