My Favorite Chrome Custom Searches

Custom search engines are an awesome feature in modern web browsers at large. This is especially true in Google Chrome (which is incidentally my favorite desktop browser for daily use).

In a nutshell, custom search engines power-charge the address bar (or omnibar), and allow the user to assign keywords for special operations. Custom operations include searching in a specific site (e.g. Wikipedia, or this blog 🙂 ), run some JavaScript, or invoke commands in various web-apps using crafted URL’s (e.g. creating a new calendar event).

See Google’s support for more details.

In this post I describe my favorite custom search engines, as I configured them in Chrome on my computers, including site-specific searches, time-constrained searches, etc.

It should be noted that other browsers have a similar feature with similar syntax, so the same definitions might apply as well. Note that I did not test them on browsers other than Chrome.

Searching Specific Sites

This is basics – simply define a keyword to search directly in a specific site.

The straight forward way would be to define a custom search engine for every site site.url in the form of http://www.google.com/search?ie=UTF-8&q=site:<site.url>+%s, which works fine. For some sites, you might get better results by using the internal search engine of that site (e.g. Wikipedia).

Here are my configured site-specific searches:

Name Keyword URL
Wikipedia wp http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Search?search=%s
Wikipedia Series Episodes ep http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Search?search=list+of+%s+episodes
My Blog ost http://www.ostricher.com/?s=%s
My Evernote en https://www.evernote.com/search?q=%s
Lifehacker lh https://www.google.com/search?ie=UTF-8&q=site:lifehacker.com+%s
Quora quora.com http://www.quora.com/opensearch/query?q=%s&pw={startPage?}
GitHub github.com https://github.com/search?q=%s&ref=opensearch
Stack Overflow so http://stackoverflow.com/search?q=%s
Super User su http://superuser.com/search?q=%s
thetvdb.com tvdb http://thetvdb.com/?string=%s&searchseriesid=&tab=listseries&function=Search
Google Images gimg https://www.google.com/search?q=%s&tbm=isch
Google Maps gmaps http://maps.google.com/maps?q=%s
Google Scholar gscholar http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=%s
Google Drive gdrive https://drive.google.com/#search/%s
YouTube Video Search youtube http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=%s&page={startPage?}&utm_source=opensearch

Time Constrained Web Searches

You probably already know that you can ask Google to return results from a specified time range (e.g. results from the last hour), by choosing the time range from the Search tools menu in the results page.

But I found it very useful to define keywords that will let me to set a time range for the results while I write the search query in the address bar. This is implemented with the following custom search engine definitions:

Name Keyword URL
Google 1hr Search g1h https://www.google.com/search?as_qdr=h1&q=%s
Google 1day Search g1d https://www.google.com/search?as_qdr=d1&q=%s
Google 1week Search g1w https://www.google.com/search?as_qdr=w1&q=%s
Google 1month Search g1m https://www.google.com/search?as_qdr=m1&q=%s
Google 1year Search g1y https://www.google.com/search?as_qdr=y1&q=%s

Of course, you can add keywords for other time ranges (like 2 days, 3 weeks, 6 months, 5 years), but I found these most useful.

Special Commands

Since the custom search engine definition essentially maps a URL to a keyword, it can be especially powerful when used with web-apps and services that implement some behavior based on the accessed URL. Additionally, the URL may also contain JavaScript code, which makes it even more powerful!

Here are some special commands I have configured:

  • Add an event to my Google Calendar
    • Name: Add Calendar Event

    • Keyword: schedule

    • URL: http://www.google.com/calendar/event?authuser=1&ctext=+%s+&action=TEMPLATE&pprop=HowCreated%3AQUICKADD
  • Run a Google Search in the current site:

    • Name: Current Site

    • Keyword: cd

    • URL: javascript:location='http://www.google.com/search?num=100&q=site:'%20+%20escape(location.hostname)%20+%20'%20%S'%20;%20void%200
  • Set a timer:

    • Name: Set Timer

    • Keyword: time

    • URL: http://cd.justinjc.com/%s
  • Alternatively, set EggTimer (supports special timers, like Pomodoro):

    • Name: EggTimer

    • Keyword: eggtimer

    • URL: http://e.ggtimer.com/%s
  • Check whether the current site is down (using DownForEveryoneOrJustforMe):

    • Name: Is Site Down

    • Keyword: isdown

    • URL: javascript:location='http://www.downforeveryoneorjustme.com/'%20+%20escape(location.hostname)%20+%20'%20'%20;%20void%200
  • Expand a shortened URL (using LongURL expander service):

    • Name: LongURL Expander

    • Keyword: expand

    • URL: http://longurl.org/expand?url=%s

Summary

This concludes my favorite custom search engine definitions, that save me lots of time. I’d love to hear more tips regarding other useful tricks and shortcuts with custom search engines, so share yours in the comments!

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