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Impress Your Friends and Co-Workers: Obscure Firefox Keyword Search

So you want to earn techno points around the work group, or want to just beef up the tech rep at home? This one might earn you some technokarma points. Its a pretty obscure (at least i think so, maybe everyone knows about it) Firefox thing to in one click, generate search results from any site with a search box — without having to go to their form.

The trick involved creating an abbreviation that Firefox can associate with a search field. Let’s say.. oh… you really dig using images from the flickr creative commons search. But it means always going to the general page, perhaps picking the license track you want to go down (sidelight-= where will they get an interface designer to collapse this to one page?? when??), waiting for the most recent ones to load, and then doing the search.

Let’s say I like using the Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike section.

Find the search field, and right-click (Windows) or ctrl-click (Mac) right in the search field. From the contextual menu, select Add a Keyword for this Search…

You then will get a dialog box where you set up the keyword search. The name field is not critical field; it is just listed somewhere in your bookmarks under this name. I named mine “flickr cc”. The important field is the one for Keyword – this is the abbreviation you will use to generate the search, so it should be short but memorable. I used for this one “fcc” for “flickr creative commons”.

And you are done!

Wait a minute, you say… what have I done?

You now have a keyword shortcut to a flickr cc search. So go to the URL field in your Firefox browser (or command-L for you shortcut junkies). Instead of entering a URl, enter your keyword followed by a space and then the words you want to search for. So I may enter from any web page (you don’t need to be on the flickr site):

fcc pirate jail

and press Return/Enter.

Shazam! It should take you directly to the search results.

You can create as many of these as you can think of (or remember). I have one to search my own flickr photos, one to search the php docs, one to search YouTube…

There you have it! With this tool in your box, you are much more than just a browser of web content!

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. Thanx for this great tip. It is like magic.

    Good luck with getting out of the grip of your internet non-service provider.

  2. It’s funny that you write about this– keyword shortcuts are one of my favorite firefox tricks (faster even than quick search) and I’ve been meaning to get around to blogging about all the ones I use regularly. Even a few javascripted goodies to do things like use:

    here x

    to google search for x on the site I am currently browsing, etc.

    I use flickrcc for my flickr creative commons searching…

  3. Alternatively, install bNub as a Firefox search engine. This accesses YubNub so that the command “ls flickr” in the search box lists flickr-based commands defined by others (or, indeed, yourself) and shows “flcc” as the appropriate command for doing the search shown above. To my mind, this is a little more intuitive in so far as you’re using the search box to, erm, search.

  4. In the old days it wasn’t as automatic, you had to do a search, find the search term in the resulting URL (and if you couldn’t see it, use a bookmarklet to change post/get), then change the term to “%s” and bookmark that URL. It’s nice to see they’ve made it more convenient!

  5. This is the biggest thing I miss when using Safari. I miss being able to just type “flickr calgary zoo” or “wikip educational technology” and having it just Do The Right Thingâ„¢.

  6. Not sure if you already know about this, but thought I’d add my two cents for everyone.

    You can also add search engines directly into the Firefox search box. To do so, click on the little down arrow on the left side of the search box, which will reveal a drop down list in which you can choose from among several preset search engines, including Google, Yahoo, Amazon, and Wikipedia. On some sites with search boxes, clicking on the down arrow will reveal an option to “Add [name of site] to your list of default search engine options.

    The other option in this same drop down menu is to select “Manage Search Engines…,” which opens a new window that allows adding, deleting, and reorganizing the listing. Adding new search engines is quite easy. In the same window, simply click on the “Get more search engines…” link here:

    This takes you to the Firefox Add-ons site. From here, adding engines is just like adding other Firefox extensions.

    Lots more are available over at the Mycroft Project site (including the Flickr CC search example) located here:

    Of course, you can also add the Mycroft Project search engine plugin to avoid the extra step of going to the site, searching…

    I have nine search engines in my listing right now. Like the keyword search, they definitely save a lot of time. Hope this helps!

  7. Here’s my favourite trick along kind of similar lines:

    – install OpenSearchFox

    Once you have done that, any site whose search engine you use a lot you can install as a local search engine in Firefox with one click.

    – install Context Search

    Then, any text on any page can be highlighted and searched in that engine through the Context Search menu that will appear when you right-click the highlighted text. VERY handy. I made a short movie about it last year but then forgot to post it 😉

  8. It’s amazing how a little trick will end up saving a lot of time. Thanks for posting this, including the link to the by-nc-sa-2.0 portion of the url. I always go to the main screen, then go to advanced search to find images. So the keyword search is a double bonus for me.

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