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Friday, September 13, 2013

Google Chrome Tricks: Raising the [Omni] Bar

If you aren't already using Google Chrome as your web browser, I strongly suggest you dig in and give it a try. In addition to ubiquitous access to your open tabs and bookmarks, there are also the excellent extensions and the omnipotent OmniBox.

Sometimes called the "URL Box" or "Address Bar" in other browers, the OmniBox is aptly named as it has so many more functions beyond www.website.com.

#1 Google Search from the comfort of your OmniBox. 
Who has time to type www.google.com, load the page and then do a search? Just type your search term right in the OmniBox and bam - there are your results!

#2 Anything Search from the comfort of your OmniBox. 
But Google Schmoogle, I want to search my Google Drive! No problem. Type "d" then hit "tab" and look who's searching their Google Drive without even navigating to it!

But wait, there's more! You can also search other pages such as YouTube, Allrecipes, Gmail, etc. Go to the settings page in your Chrome Browser. Then find and click on "Manage Search Engines". Then scroll down to "Other search engines." This is where you can add more shortcuts for searching sites from your OmniBox. You just need to input a name for the search engine, a keywork or hotkey (whatever you want it to be), and the search URL. 

To save you time, here are a few of my favorites (with some suggested keywords):

Keyword: d

Suggested Keyword: g
URL: https://mail.google.com/mail/ca/u/0/#apps/%s

Google Image Search
Suggested Keyword: i
URL: https://www.google.com/search?site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1162&bih=549&q=%s&oq=%s&gs_l=img.3..0l10.1455.1974.0.2222. 
(Thanks to Sylvia Duckworth for finding this one :)!)

Suggested Keyword: all
URL: http://allrecipes.com/search/recipes.aspx?withterm=%s

Google Art Project 
Suggested Keyword: ap
URL: http://www.googleartproject.com/search/?q=%s

Suggested Keyword: im
URL: http://www.imdb.com/find?s=all&q=%s

Suggested Keyword: y
URL: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=%s&page={startPage?}&utm_source=opensearch

Want more? Quick Trick: If you don't know the search URL for another site and want to add it as an OmniBox search shortcut, simply go to the site, right click in its search box and select "Add As Search Engine". Then, in the "keyword" box, type in the keyboard shortcut you'd like to use!

#2.5 Add Calendar Events from your OmniBox!
This is the exact same workflow as the above example... but it adds Google Calendar events! Go to your settings of the Chrome browser, click on Manage Search Engines... then Other Search Engines...

In the "add new search engine" box, type: Add Calendar Event
Keyword suggestion: cal
URL: http://www.google.com/calendar/event?ctext=+%s+&action=TEMPLATE&pprop=HowCreated%3AQUICKADD

Then open a new tab, type cal then hit space bar... type your event... "lunch with Priya tomorrow at 1pm"... and it adds to your calendar!

#3 Get ready to travel!
You can search for flight status, time in a different part of the world or currency conversions right from that OmniBox. Try typing "time in Seoul" or "Won to USD" or - ready to be really impressed - try typing "aa27". Spoiler alert... here's what you would see:

"Time in Seoul"

"Won to USD"


Instant information - no searching currency exchange websites, timezone charts or airline flight trackers. By the way... this works from your Chrome browser on your phone, too.

#4 Math the OmniBox way
Ever get an email asking you to buy tickets to something or are exploring a webpage only to find that you need to do some math in your head... and your head has forgotten how to mentally multiply $175.12 x 5 people? No worrires... just type 175.12*5 into your OmniBox... don't hit enter... just type it. What do you see? 
Did you see this?
Notice the =875.6 at the bottom? That's right... the answer to your problem. Literally. You don't need to navigate away from that website or email -- just type in the math problem and the answer magically appears.

#5 And just for fun...
Try typing your favorite movie star's name and then the phrase "Bacon Number" after it. For example, try typing Miley Cyrus Bacon Number and then hit enter. If you don't understand the result, it won't be funny, but here's an explanation.


  1. How do I find the search URL for a website?

  2. [Tip] Ctrl + L selects the contents of the Address Bar, allowing you to quickly overtype it, or copy it, or whatever...

  3. HI Jen, these tips are awesome, thank you so much! I can get all of them to work except for the gmail one. It just take me to my inbox, it doesn't do a search for me. Is it still working for you?

  4. Got it. It's slightly different from yours: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#search/%s

  5. I still refer this blog post, though it seems the ability to add other search boxes is 'gone' in Chrome now. I started a list of search strings for tools I use here and left this open and editable if any others want to add to this over time (or fix/update if you find a mistake): https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1zCR-lkWrfzG0nelX3fR0xq1VfiQVu7Z39eR5dPaPGfo/edit#gid=0