There are two customizations I always perform when I install Firefox on a computer.
First I merge the location and search bars into a single bar that can be used for either. This is especially useful if you ever have problems with the bars getting too scrunched up when you’re not using the whole screen for your browser.
The second customization is setting up search bookmarks. These time-saving shortcuts that let you do searches on a specific site without going to the site first.
Time-saving by customizing Firefox
With my setup, if I type “mountain.com” into my location bar, Firefox will go to that website. However if I type “wp mountain”, I’ll be sent to the wikipedia entry about mountains. If I type “y mountains”, I’ll get the Yahoo! dictionary page with the Chinese translation of “mountain”. This is quite a bit faster than going to wikipedia or the dictionary first and then doing a search.
1) First, get rid of the search box. Go to View, then Toolbars, then Customize. That will pop up a box with all of the possible wigits you can select. Click on the search box in the upper right portion of your Firefox window and drag it into that box.
2) Now with the search box gone, the next step is to make the location bar act as one. To do this, type “about: config” into the location bar. Then select “keyword.url” and enter “http://www.google.com/search?ie=UTF-8&oe=utf-8&q=”. Now whatever you type into the location bar that’s not a URL will do a Google search. You have to exit and re-start Firefox for this to take effect.
3) The last step is to set up bookmarks with keywords. This will let you do searches on specific web pages from the location bar. You can make them for as many sites and you want. As an example, here’s the process for setting up a search bookmark for Wikipedia. Go to wikipedia.com and search for “Kant”. It will take you to this URL:
Bookmark the page. Then, go to your bookmarks and right click on your new bookmark. Select “Properties”, and replace the “Kant” part of the address with %s. Then, under keyword, type “wp”. Now, if you were to type “wp harry potter” into your location bar, it would do a search on Wikipedia for “harry potter”. Useful, no?
My Search Bookmarks
This is an updated version of an entry originally published in 2005