The Web Browser Address Bar is the New Command Line


All the major browsers do non-URL searches in some engine by default, which is configurable.

Since Opera and Firefox have had people pipe up already, may as well add how to configure this on IE from a site whose url is very apropos.

Chrome configures it via this method:

Safari’s looks complicated although it’s the only one I’ve never tried before:

And what the hell, here’s Opera and Firefox again:


@John Fouhy:
Kudos for mentioning Firefox quick searches. Very useful.
Also see a href= extension to select any text on a page, right-click and perform a quick search on the selected text.


tondrej, yet another feature which has been in Opera for like ever.

Pretty much all the good plugins (not tools) are copies of features from Opera. I dont get why you all like firefox so much, the only good tool it has is tamper data.


I realise you got the examples from Google’s help page, but the sports one (san francisco 49ers) doesn’t work for me. I’m outside the US, but using (not Does it work for anyone? Same thing for the housing listings.


Of course. Haven’t you noticed the ever-so-commonplace CLI in your favorite First Person Shooter? Load up Counterstrike or whatever else, and try pressing Tilde(~). I imagine operating systems of the future may implement an always-present command line such as this one. Just don’t forget to wire it up to Google! :smiley:


Tony: I get an extra bit for the housing listings, but the sports link looks like just a straight search result afaict.


Netscape Navigator could so searches from the address bar at least as far back as 1998. Here’s a CNet article about it:

Galeon and Firefox have also had keyword bookmarks for quite a while. Firefox makes it really easy to add keyword searches: just right-click on pretty much any search box on the web and select Add a Keyword for this Search…


UI Breakthrough-Command Line Interfaces
by Don Norman


Jeff, this is so trivial that it isn’t funny. I generally find your site interesting, but you are just making such a big deal about a basic browser function. Seriously, it just redirects a query to Google!!


An even more advanced command line for the browser would be Mozilla Labs’ Ubiquity add-on for Firefox. It lets you do just bout anything short of launching desktop applications from your browser. And looks like it may be integrated into the next version of Firefox as well (ain’t in the beta’s though).


Hmm, … I thought really superb and intelligent articles need to be written to be an accomplished programming blogger.


I love to abuse Firefox’s QuickSearch functionality.

For example, I wanted to md5 something, so I made a bookmark to

And one quick PHP script upload later, I’ve got an md5 keyword!

Shame FX3 makes you jump through so many hoops to give a bookmark a keyword.


So on that same token, the search box in just about every other browser is also a command line. And Mozilla Suite / SeaMonkey had the unified address bar / search box thing since forever, so Chrome is not exactly innovating here. In fact, there are good reasons to keep them separate, such as being able to better disambiguate between searches and addresses, so that a search term doesn’t get blown away whenever you get to a page (ever wanted to change a search term or redo the search with a different engine?).


I’m having difficulty trying to figure out how to roll my eyes with as much emphasis as I feel is warranted.



Weak passwords trump strong security:


Ah, Jeff, you’ve discovered something I found out a long time ago - People get as offended when you point out that they use command lines as they do when you point out that they’re mammals:

People also get ticked when you point out that the command line is actually good for them:

However, now that Microsoft is doing it, it’s suddenly OK. Go figure:

My theory is that somebody beat these people with a keyboard when they were kids, and now they’re out for revenge.


Wow @Pierre Lebeaupin, I’m impressed. So not only is this Yet Another Recycled Post but this time it is SOMEONE ELSE’S POST. Even worse, it is SOMEONE ELSE’S POST PRINTED IN A JOEL SPOLSKY BOOK. Very good work. :slight_smile:


Hmm… I just tried the following in Firefox:

define (word)

It must be calling out to a search engine, perhaps Google. I kept getting a different web site depending on the (word) that was entered.

orange, the only constant in my life now…


OPERA also passes anything you type into the address bar that isn’t an obvious URI on to the default search engine.

Opera is the best browser ever. Firefox doesn’t get up to the half of it.


It’s beyond me how you could be a programmer and not like the command line. It’s the same thing.

The GUI is great, some apps are truly improved by a good graphical representation of data. And others by a (good) GUI’s faster learning curve.

But when there isn’t a graphical benefit, I chose CLI everytime. Maybe your problem Jeff is that you never experienced a proper UNIX command line? And you are still too stubborn to explore that avenue.