The Web Browser Address Bar is the New Command Line

Google's Chrome browser passes anything you type into the address bar that isn't an obvious URI on to the default search engine.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:

Except that the web browser address bar is missing the one feature that makes unix command line user interfaces usable, which is the ability to take the output of one command and pump it into a file or another command.

Yes, Mozilla Ubiquity ( is also another effort to bring a command line-like interface to the web browser.

Efforts like this to bring a command line-like UI to places outside of the terminal can make the argument that the command line is dying somewhat silly. That said, I believe that the pro-Linux-desktop people are correct in saying that while the command line can help get things done, it does not have to be used frequently by non-technical individuals.

The command line will not die. It will grow in places that were not previously expected. For example, take voice-activated technology. That is basically a command line with simple, spoken commands.

(Apologies for slightly rambling in my comment. I have a lot of thoughts stirring around in my head.)

Bloody hell, this has been a feature of Opera for ages now.

Anything typed into Operas address bar is searched, if you can prefix it with g, or y, or any other of the many prefix’s for search engines.

Someone already mentioned Mozilla’s Ubiquity, but a href= (a unix-shell style interface for Google) is also worth a mention.

Not a complete command line until you can delete the interwebs with:
rm -rf *

Don’t forget Firefox quick searches. With a bookmark:

and a keyword ‘urban’, I can search the urban dictionary by typing ‘urban foo’ into my url bar. Lifehacker has a few more examples here:

I believe you can do the same thing from Internet Explorer, though you may need Microsoft’s TweakUI powertoy to set them up.

In Mozilla, you can right-click, properties any bookmark to add a Keyword.

Then when you type the keyword in the address bar, it will hit your bookmark and replace %s in the url with whatever arguments you’ve thrown after the keyword. It’s a pretty neat feature, try it!

Your article in a nutshell: whatever you type on Chrome’s address bar that isn’t a URL goes on to Google.

Actually, there’s nothing commandline-ish about the address bar itself. If you really want to stretch that metaphor, you can say that Google is a command-line shell. Which I’d consider stupid, since Google just accepts a couple of operators, nothing much more special than that.

Jeff, I feel that you like to try to shock your readers with unexpected insight about trivial things, but sometimes you go too far for stuff too little. I guess this was the case.

André, pretty much everything Jeff writes is rubbish. He’s a glorified writer, amature programmer. Now-n-then some of his posts have catchy titles, but then you read it, only to be letdown.

you are everything wrong with the internet and computing in general

please get a job in management and fade out

You ain’t seen nothin’ yet! It goes live May 18th.

You ain’t seen nothin’ yet! It goes live May 18th.

edit: typo

Irony: clicking on the link to google ( sucks) and having the comment first result contain My blog is the #1 search result in Google for StackOverflow Sucks! in the comments

Holy smokes- what vitriol in the comments! Jeff, it’s funny that Google has already indexed this article, so that Googling ‘ sucks’ brings up this very page.

Here’s link to a post about a project that I am working on that was inspired by the same observations that Jeff had.

Please do check it out and provide feedback:

P.S. For a head’s up. This project is like Ubiquity but for the file manager.

Now you’ve done it Jeff. Your overstated blog entry title has gone too far! You had a sacred duty, a holy charge, to manage the tone of your titles, and now your careless, wanton metaphor is too huge for any one man to stop! Even as I write this mobs are gathering, children are crying, and horses are running loose! Oh humanity!

Phillip Broseph – go change your underwear and take a nice hot bath.

Don’t forget about YubNub - - the social command line for the web. I have this bound as an FF quick search to ‘.’, so I can easily do more complex argument passing than FF supports, such as:

. usd2aud 100

which does a call to for the conversion. Very handy.

Being able to do focused searches via a prefix is far far more convenient than having to step through a set of search engines. The search bar is one of the first things I remove in any new install of Firefox.

Be-gone the windows run command and just live in Chrome 24/7. Still waiting on the Mac version tho. It’s can’t come fast enough!

The more things change, the more they stay the same.