How's your Omnibox game?

If you are developer in 20178 chances are, if you are on your computer, you have a web browser open. And according to this, there’s over a 60% chance that it’s Chrome. If so, this is for you.

By now, many of you know that you can set up custom search engines to use in Chrome’s Omnibox, they’re super handy. If you know how to set one up, skip down a paragraph; if not, here’s how: In Chrome, go to Settings > Manage search engines. Here you can define custom search engines that have three properties: a name, an alias, and a URL. For example, I have a custom search engine called Wikipedia, with an alias wiki, and http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Search&search=%s as the url. The %s will be replaced by the search string. If I want to search Wikipedia, all I have to do is, in the Omnibox, type wiki (space or tab) and then the search string (whatever I want to search for), and bam, it is searched.

Now, being able to search websites easily through the Omnibox is well and good, but let’s try thinking outside of the (Omni)box. I will share with you some of my favorite custom search engines, and why they are great (or at least neat).

In order from neat to necessary:

5. Translate (for me, English to Spanish)

URL: https://translate.google.com/?source=osdd#en/es/%s

Where en is the “from” language, and es is the “to” language. I would rank this higher if I used it more, but still, handy in a pinch! I’m sure you could do the same with another translating service.

4. Thesaurus/Dictionary

Thesaurus URL: http://www.thesaurus.com/browse/%s?s=t
Dictionary URL: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/%s

Obviously, use whatever dictionary website you want. Once I set up the thesaurus search engine, I find that I use it a surprising amount! And now I write illustriously.

I use a lot Atlassian products, like Jira and Confluence, and I’ve set up a custom search engine for Confluence, and one search engine for each Jira board I’m interested in. If you or your company has some sort of intranet site or wiki or online documentation, a custom search engine works like a charm.

2. Maps

URL: https://www.google.com/maps/search/%s

I use maps as the alias, so I can type “maps Chipotle” and will immediately be shown the nearest Chipotles, which is cool, but we can take it a step further. I can also type “maps here to Chipotle” and I will be given directions to the nearest Chipotle. Technology at it’s finest. Furthermore, if you have your home or work location set with Google Maps, you can type things like “maps work to Chipotle” and be given directions for that.

1. Gifs

Google URL: https://www.google.com/search?q=%s&tbm=isch&tbs=itp:animated
Giphy URL: https://giphy.com/search/%s

You want to be the fastest gif in the West? This is how. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer Google’s animated image search over Giphy, especially at work. I mean, the last thing I want is a bunch of flashing colors and images on my screen to draw attention to the fact that I’m looking for a gif.

Honorable Mentions

Amazon, YouTube, Google Calendar, Bible Gateway, Spotify

Happy searching in a customized way!

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