New-ish versions of Firefox (I'm currently on 3.6) have the nifty "search bookmark" feature, which allows you to create searches in the location bar with custom URLs, e.g. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%s.

This is really great, but when trying to mange the engines in the search bar, I was dismayed at the lack of customisability there. It looks like the two search methods are entirely distinct.

Is there a way to put custom URLs in my search bar, or do I have to just hope that whatever I want is on the long but finite list of plugins at mycroft?


UPDATE: done a bit more research, posting my own answer

  • Probably not. You can always post a request for the site you want or make it yourself. – random Dec 20 '10 at 1:49
  • "...which allows you to create searches in the location bar with custom URLs, e.g. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%s." I think I am missing something: this has been natively possible in Firefox since forever? Just go to a search page, like google.com; right click on the blank search field on the page, and pick "Add a keyword for this search". I never understood why people used the search box anyway... what am I missing?? – Cerberus Dec 21 '10 at 12:25
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    +1 interesting question and to elevate you out of new user status. Now you can fix your answer. – Daniel Beck Dec 21 '10 at 12:30
  • (@Daniel: heh, thanks :) @Cerberus: yeah, you can add other search URLs, but you can't choose just any URL, it has to be defined by the XML given to you by the web site. Wikipedia probably wouldn't give me the above URL, but an actual search link. – mwfearnley Dec 23 '10 at 10:36
  • ... Why do people use the search box? Speaking for myself, I like the simplicity and predictability of the interface, and the way that the query persists after searching it. – mwfearnley Dec 23 '10 at 10:39

It looks like Firefox's search box (exclusively?) uses OpenSearch/MozSearch xml files, which allow some extra features over search bookmarks, e.g. autocomplete. And, unlike Opera (and Chrome?) it doesn't allow the settings to be customised.

So I guess OpenSearch plugins and search bookmarks are only superficially related, but the fact that they can both be given keywords that work in the address bar makes them appear more closely tied than they really are.

It looks like the answer is that custom URLs can't easily be created. Although if other browsers support it, I think it might be worth a feature request.

In the meantime, there are some generators listed on the OpenSearch page, that look like they allow search plugins with arbitrary URLs to be added.


What I do is install Omnibar which melds the two to a certain extent. Or, you can rely on entirely search bookmarks paired with KeywordBookmarks.com which is beneficial because they, unlike search plugins, sync with Weave.

  • Hi, thanks for the tip. But I want to keep my search box. – mwfearnley Dec 20 '10 at 3:18
  • High task, considering what Keyword Bookmarks are originally for. It's one of those things where you either change how your computer works or change how you work. – digitxp Dec 20 '10 at 12:20
  • Thinking about it now, the Keyword Bookmarks were probably just a red herring. The just seemed more closely related because they were both accessible from the address bar. – mwfearnley Dec 21 '10 at 12:22

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