Chemistry Blog



Mar 09

Internet Browser Keyword Searches

by azmanam | Categories: Uncategorized | (42477 Views)

Since I’ve been on a bit of a tech kick lately with the updated dictionary and the W|A reagent table widget, I thought I’d throw up another tech post just for fun.  It doesn’t specifically have anything to do with chemistry, but is a great helper for chemists and nonchemists alike.

It’s the keyword search.  When you want to search Google Images (or Amazon, or Wikipedia), you perhaps click on the address bar, type (or, …), click on the search box, type your search term, hit enter, then click on the Images tab.  Sure it only takes a few seconds, but those are valuable seconds!  Yeah, you can use the Search Bar, but that’s only limited to the search engines your browser supports, and you have to manually use the mouse to click and change the search engine you want to use.

This is where Keyword searches are really, really cool.

Keyword searches are most specifically bookmarks.  For example, you can map a “Keyword” to a url you’ve bookmarked.  For instance, if you wanted to bookmark the Google Images homepage directly, you would bookmark the url “”, and you might add the Keyword “GImage”.  Then, instead of typing and clicking images, you just type “GImage” into the address bar, hit enter, and the address bar recognizes the keyword and replaces “GImage” with “” and takes you to the Google Image homepage.

But if the url you are bookmarking and Keywording includes the characters “%s”, the browser will replace “%s” with whatever text you type after the Keyword in the address bar.  This way, if you know the general format of the url for the output of the search to, say, Google Images, you can search Google Images directly from your address bar without ever loading any Google page first.  So if you instead bookmark the page “” (the general format of the url of the output of a Google Image search) with the Keyword “GImage”, you can now type “GImage benzene ring” and the browser will replace the %s in the bookmark with “benzene ring” and will take you to the Google Image results page for the search “benzene ring.”  All without stopping at the Google homepage or the Google Image homepage first, and without having to type anything in to any search box.

Setting up a Keyword Search in Firefox

Ok, time to make people mad.  This functionality comes built in for Firefox and Chrome.  In fact, in Firefox, you can right click on any search text box and one of the options is “Create a Keyword for this Search.”  Alternatively, hit ctrl+B to bring up your bookmarks, and right click to add a new bookmark or change the properties of an existing bookmark.  In Chrome, right click in the address bar and select “Edit Search Engines.  In Safari, you’ll need to install the Keywurl addon, then keyword searches will work.  Internet Explorer is, again, the idiot browser of the bunch, and I cannot figure out a way to get keyword searches in IE.  Just go download Firefox already (or convince your IT department to install Firefox on your computer).

Setting up a Keyword Search in Chrome

Try it!  Add a new bookmark to Firefox, or edit your search engines in Chrome or utilize Keywurl in Safari.  As your populating the fields, the name can be whatever you want.  I suggest reminding yourself of the keyword in brackets, then naming the search engine: [GImage] Google Images.  For url, copy and paste into this field.  And enter GImage for the Keyword (you can make the keyword whatever you want, just make it short, unique, and something you’ll remember).  Add this bookmark, and try it out!  Go to the address bar and type “GImage mass spectrometer” (no quotes) and you’ll instantly be taken to lots of cool pictures of mass spectrometers!

Sure Google Images is a bad example, because it’s relatively easy to do a Google Image search, but using this power on other search engines is really really helpful.  Here are a list of my favorite Keyword Searches.  Make new bookmarks for each of these if you want!


  • Name: [wa] Wolfram|Alpha
  • Location:
  • Keword: wa

Spectral Database (the first time you search, you’ll have to “agree the disclaimer,” and the Keyword search will work the second time and every time thereafter in that browsing session.)

  • Name: [sdbs] SDBS
  • Location:
  • Keword: sdbs
  • Note: Doesn’t work in Google Chrome

Sigma Aldrich

  • Name [sa] Sigma Aldrich
  • Location:
  • Keyword: sa

Acros Organics

  • Name: [acros] Acros Organics
  • Location:
  • Keyword: acros

Fisher Scientific

  • Name: [fish] Fisher Scientific
  • Location:
  • Keyword: fish

ChemSearch Reference Resolver

  • Name: [rr] Reference Resolver
  • Url:
  • Keyword: rr

Enjoy!  If you have any other cool keyword searches to share, leave ‘em in the comments.  If you can’t get a site to work, leave it in the comments, too, and I’ll try to find a way to make it keyword-able.


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  1. azmanam

    Other Keyword Searches I like:

    Internet Movie Database
    Name: [imdb] The Internet Movie Database
    Keyword: imdb

    Wikipedia (change “en” in url to your language of choice)
    Name: [wp] Wikipedia
    Keyword: wp

    Merriam-Webster Dictionary
    Name: [mw] Merriam-Webster
    Keyword: mw

    Name: [yt] YouTube
    Keyword: yt

  2. Carlotta

    Love it!!! How about Google Books? I couldn’t get that to work.

  3. azmanam

    Try this:

    Google Books
    Name: [gb] Google Books
    Keyword: gb

  4. azmanam

    I also formatted these this morning:

    Name: [pnas] PNAS
    Keyword: pnas

    ACS Journals
    Name: [acs] American Chemical Society
    Keyword: acs

    PubMed (in FireFox, you’ll have to submit the search twice for some reason. The url will look correct, but you’ll be on the homepage. Just resubmit the url (you don’t have to type anything) and it will work. Works first time in Chrome.
    Name: [pm] PubMed
    Keyword: pm

    ISI Web of Knowledge (won’t work in Chrome)
    Name: [isi] ISI Web of Knowledge
    Keyword: isi

  5. MatSciGuy

    Its not the keyword search you are talking about, but Sigma-Aldrich has their own in-browswer toolbar that allows you to search I use it all the time:

    If you are searching the site on a regular basis it may be worth checking out.

  6. azmanam

    Ug. I hate installing toolbars. I value my vertical screen space too much to waste a dozen pixels on a toolbar.

    I see your point, though, and I see its utility. Thanks for sharing.

  7. PhilS82

    @Azmanam.. I’m using Firefox 3.6/OSX & the “Sigma-Aldrich toolbar” just integrates into the pre-existing google/etc search-box to the RHS of the address bar as a drop-down selection. No wasted screen space, though effectively no different to your keyword trick :)

  8. azmanam

    Thanks, PhilS82.

    One other handy feature of the keyword searches, is that I can switch focus to the address bar using my keyboard (ctrl+L in Firefox), type my keyword search using my keyboard, and get to the search results page with one hit of enter. No mouse necessary. It’s small, but it makes me feel good.

    I can ctrl-K to the search box in Firefox, but I can’t change search engines with the keyboard (at least, as far as I know).

  9. PhilS82

    Keyboard change of search engines, on Firefox/OSX: alt-arrow up/down :)

  10. azmanam

    And another one:

    ChemSpider (works fine in Chrome, for some reason, you need to submit twice in FireFox)
    Name: [cs] ChemSpider
    Keyword: cs

  11. azmanam

    and another one:

    ChemSearch Reference Resolver
    Name: [rr] Reference Resolver
    Keyword: rr

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