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 www.google.com (or www.amazon.com, …), 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 “http://www.google.com/imghp”, and you might add the Keyword “GImage”. Then, instead of typing www.google.com and clicking images, you just type “GImage” into the address bar, hit enter, and the address bar recognizes the keyword and replaces “GImage” with “http://www.google.com/imghp” 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 “http://www.google.com/images?q=%s” (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.
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).
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 http://www.google.com/images?q=%s 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: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=%s
- 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: http://riodb01.ibase.aist.go.jp/sdbs/cgi-bin/cre_result.cgi?STSI=129596924016756
- Keword: sdbs
- Note: Doesn’t work in Google Chrome
- Name [sa] Sigma Aldrich
- Location: http://www.sigmaaldrich.com/catalog/search?interface=All&term=%s
- Keyword: sa
- Name: [acros] Acros Organics
- Location: http://www.acros.com/DesktopModules/Acros_Search_Results/Acros_Search_Results.aspx?search_type=CatalogSearch&SearchString=%s
- Keyword: acros
- Name: [fish] Fisher Scientific
- Location: http://www.fishersci.com/ecomm/servlet/Search?keyWord=%s
- Keyword: fish
ChemSearch Reference Resolver
- Name: [rr] Reference Resolver
- Url: http://chemsearch.kovsky.net/index.php?q=%s
- 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.