Access Any Web Site's Search System Direct From Your Chrome Browser


Chrome search queryYou're probably very accustomed to typing web URLs into Chrome's address bar. If you use that particular browser, it's the way that you tell it where you want to go. But if truth be told, it's not actually an address bar. Google calls it an Omni Bar because of all the extra features it has. And here's one of them which you probably don't know about, but which is actually really, really neat.

Imagine that you want to search Youtube for a particular word or phrase (say, Julia Roberts). Do you currently go to the Youtube web site and then type Julia Roberts into the search box on that site? Would you like to be able to just type:

y julia roberts

into the Chrome omnibar and have your browser do all the hard work for you? If so, here's how.

In Chrome, right-click on the address bar (sorry, Omni Bar) and choose Edit Search Engines. In the "add a new search engine" box, type Youtube. In the Keyword column, just type y. And in the "URL with %s in place of query" box, type:

Now, go back to Chrome. In the omni bar, type the letter y followed by a space. Instantly, the browser says Search Youtube. Carry on typing your search query (Julia Roberts in this case). Hit Return and you'll find yourself right at the Youtube search results page.

You can add any site's search facility to the list of Chrome's search engines. Add Facebook for example, with a keyword of f, and you can search it with just a single letter. Or even your own company web site, if you want one. The only tricky part is working out the correct URL to add. To do this, search the site manually to start with, then copy the address where you end up. Just replace the search query with %s and you're all ready to go.

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I have hit another insidious behavior on the Chrome based OPERA. I am getting a Google message that it can't find the DNS for the site and I am not sure why Google is controlling that. Often the site will come up, blink off with the message and might reapppear. I know Google is inserting their URL in front of every site you go to but this is getting weird

Google Chrome by default will add a website to its "Orher Search Engline" list automatically when you go to a website and use it's Search box to search for anything. For example go to [a well known computer help website] search for anything using the website search box on their web page. Then look under Chrome's Search Engine page udner "Other Search Engines". You will see a Bleeping Computer" entry in Chrome.

I discovered that Chrome here had over 100 such entries added automatically. Some of these entries even had the search terms that I was looking for on that particular website! People have complained to Chrome Devs that this behaviour is a privacy issue and that there should be a way of disabling this option. There is no way of disabling this behaviour on Chrome

If I seen this type of behaviour on some one's computer I would normally think a malware infection like a browser hijacking. This type of behaviour by Chrome made me go back to using Firefox on all my computers.

I'm not sure what the fuss is over and above everything else that Google does or does not do.

To clarify:

  • Google Chrome doesn't do this for every site search. It only does it where the website uses Google Custom Search. You can usually tell if Google Custom Search is being used because the search results will follow a selection of Google-supplied ads that say "Ads by Google related to: " your search term. In such a case, Google already have access to "private" information that you want to protect. I guess that Google will almost certainly have enough information to identify your computer and your user account as well.
  • Google does provide an opt out feature. If you don't want this sort of information on your computer then you should be using Incognito mode which disables both browsing history and other search engines.
  • Unless you use Incognito mode then the information will be in your browsing history anyway.

If I was a user of Google Chrome and Google already had that info then I would prefer the benefit of some automation of searches over not having that feature.

Sorry but have to use incognito mode for all sites is not an opt out option. Its a work around. That option hinders my browsing on all websites since Chrome would have to be always using incognito mode. I have got fed up with Google's attitude over the years of either doing it their way or take the high road. I decided the later and ditch Chrome as my browser.

I can search these same websites just fine in Firefox which does not have to save all of this search engines in my browser. I use UBlock Origin on my browsers to block annoying ads as well as malware that in the past have been served up intentionally and unintentionally on websites. I only unblock a select few websites.

Google Chrome's incognito mode is Google's opt out option if you have concerns about the privacy of your local browsing history. We may not like their attitude and the option may not be adequate - it is probably still the case that Chrome doesn't delete all your temporary browsing data - but it is the option that they provide.

A work around is something like having to suspend tracking after you have logged into a google account while in incognito mode. See How secret is Google Chrome's 'incognito' mode? for more info on this issue.


Thanks for your elaborate comment; interesting, interesting - to say the least.

Right at the end of your comment you write "This type of behaviour by Chrome made me go back to using Firefox on all my computers".

My reply to this: CONGRATULATIONS! One more person who saw the light!

@all others:
What I just don't understand is that mad dash of "[Google] Chrome is the best browser" out there. Nobody ever defines what their interpretation of "best browser" actually means.