Search sites directly with Firefox

Many people use a search engine to navigate the Internet. However, not everyone knows that Firefox’s1 “add keyword” feature allows one to directly search any website with an input field.

As for why this is useful:

  1. Searching directly is more private since it cuts out the middleman (default search engine).
  2. It saves time.

Let’s take Wiktionary as an example, a multilingual dictionary.

Navigate to Wiktionary and right click Wiktionary’s input field. A menu will pop up.

In a Firefox window displaying Wiktionary, the cursor is highlighting
the "Add a Keyword for this Search" option in a
menu.

Click the “Add a Keyword for this Search…” option. Firefox will now present a dialog box asking for the name of the bookmark, the folder to save the bookmark in, and a keyword (I chose wkt).

A dialog box that asks for the name of the bookmark, the folder to
save it in, and the
keyword.

Now, it’s possible to type in wkt (or whatever was chosen as a keyword) into Firefox’s search bar followed by a word and find its definition. Here is an exercise to test it: figure out what the difference between somnambulism and funambulism is, and why the two probably wouldn’t go well together.

The ArchWiki, Wikipedia, and many other websites can be searched in this fashion. In addition, keywords work with ordinary bookmarks too (for instance, awl is mapped to the “List of applications” ArchWiki entry on my computer). The main difference with regular bookmarks is that nothing is typed except the keyword since a query is no longer being performed.

I prefer the bookmark method over adding a site as a search engine for two reasons:

  1. Firefox doesn’t present the “Add Search Engine” option as consistently as expected.
  2. Using keywords minimizes mouse usage, which translates to searching faster.

  1. Anything based on Firefox, such as Tor Browser, can also make use of this feature (assuming the fork is sufficiently up to date).