What’s the first thing that comes up in your mind when you hear “internet search”?
Of course, it’s Google. Google is not the only search engine, though.
Youtube is a search engine.
Your cloud drive has a search engine.
Even your To Do app probably has a search engine.
And if you regularly retrieve information from anywhere other than Google, you should start tapping into Chrome’s site search feature.
By default, when typing a query into the address bar, a Google search results page will appear. However, you can set up keyboard shortcuts followed by a string to search within a specific website or web app.
For example, if I type “youtube lucas prigge”, it will first go to Google and I need to click on the result to get where I want to go. However, with a custom search shortcut, I only need to type “yt” followed by the search string to directly end up on the YouTube results page.
Here’s how it works.
Open Chrome and go to Settings > Search Engine > Manage search engines and site search > Site search.
If you press “Add” next to Site Search, you’ll be presented with 3 fields to fill out.
The first, named Search Engine, is the name you give to the custom search. This name will show after you’ve entered the shortcut, but it doesn’t have to be the same as the shortcut.
The Shortcut field contains the actual keyboard shortcut you want to use to gain quick access to the site’s search feature. Make sure this doesn’t conflict with any existing keyboard combinations you use often.
The last field named URL with %s in place of query is the most challenging, and critical to get right. It’s the URL that’ll actually make the whole thing work. Let’s take YouTube as an example.
If we go there and search for something, we need to watch what we see in the Chrome address bar. Let’s search for “ticklish camel”. As we can see, the URL structure looks as follows. https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=ticklish+camel. Since we searched for ticklish camel, so we just need to turn “ticklish+camel” into %s and paste it in there.
Finding the search query URL will not always be this easy, if not downright impossible. I tried it with various apps and sites and it’s really hit & miss. A few examples that work perfectly include Google Drive, Twitter, and Todoist.
Actionable advice for this week: set up your custom searches.
See which sites & web apps you use a lot, whether they have search functionality and if you’re able to turn that into a usable URL. If your site or app doesn’t have search functionality, check out my video for a neat workaround.