24 July 2008 - 14:43Firefox 3.5 Restricts, Matches, Keywords

I’ve continued to help Firefox users to get to the pages they want faster with features like multi-word search (just press space — great for matching titles) and adaptive learning (you’ll only need to type a single letter to get what you want). I even wrote an add-on that takes you to the top listed site by just pressing enter 🙂, so now you just need to type 1 letter, and hit enter, and you’re where you want to be (no need to press down first)!

So in Firefox 3.5, there’s some new ways to change what shows up in the Smart Location Bar such as restricting results to show only your history (and not your unvisited bookmarks) or matching only in the URL instead of also in the title. Additionally, you can see your Smart Keywords queries show up in the drop down.

You can restrict the search to your history by typing “^”, or bookmarks with “*”, or tagged pages with “+”. To make what you’ve typed match only in the URL type “@”, and for title/tags only use “#”.

You can first start typing something you want to find like “mozilla”..

Search \"mozilla\"

All results that match "mozilla"

Then realize that there’s too many results and you know it’s a page that you’ve tagged, so you restrict the results with “+”..

Search \"mozilla +\"

Restricting "mozilla" to tagged pages

Then continue narrowing the results by typing more words..

Search \"mozilla + ed\"

Quickly finding pages out of thousands

If you prefer the results to always restrict to history and match only in the URL, you can go to about:config and change the corresponding preferences to nothing (edit the value and delete the special character). This way you can always be only searching your visited history and not worry about matching in the title. If you’ve installed Hide Unvisited [ed.agadak.net], you can uninstall it and just change browser.urlbar.restrict.history to “” (nothing).

about:config urlbar

Preferences to change default restrict/match behavior

As with the Hide Unvisited add-on, restricting to history will only show pages that you have visited and are stored in your history. This means if you visit a bookmark, it will still show up even when restricting to history. However, you can select the entry from the location bar and hit Delete, or delete pages from the History Panel, or just Clear History to make them disappear.

If you don’t like the standard characters to enable restrict/match, you can modify the values from about:config to be whatever you want. They can be single characters, whole words, even words in other languages.

One last thing about Keywords is that you can now see what you’re going to search with a Smart Keyword Bookmark. You can even assign multiple bookmarks the same keyword so one can be the default Wikipedia search and another can use I’m Feeling Lucky [google.com]. You can uninstall Show Keywords [addons.mozilla.org] if you’re using that for Firefox 3.

Wikipedia Smart Keyword

Choose from multiple Smart Keyword Searches

236 Comments | Tags: Add-on, AwesomeBar, Mozilla

1 July 2008 - 5:48Firefox 3 Smart Location Bar Saves You Time

Now that Firefox 3 [mozilla.com] has been downloaded well over 27 million times [mozilla.com], many people have noticed that the Smart Location Bar can find pages that match not only in the URL but also in the title or tags added to a bookmarked page. One commonly overlooked feature that saves you a lot of time is the ability to quickly narrow down the search results and find exactly what you want. Just type another word.

Typing multiple words and not being restricted to just matching at the beginning of the URL to match the domain provides a lot of power to the user.

I’ve put together some examples of how the Smart Location Bar can save you seconds, even minutes, every day when using websites like YouTube or Gmail or any place you can visit through Firefox. (Don’t miss the pro-tip at the end to easily read your new messages in Gmail! 😀 )

Ever visited a page but don’t remember the site’s URL or even the the domain? When you’re clicking through Google search results, you might find what you’re looking for but forget to make note of the URL. Many times you can just type in what you were searching for and Firefox can find it right away. Firefox will even order the results based on better matches.

Diablo III Results

Easily go back to pages without typing the domain

In most other browsers, you would have to start typing out “www.blizzard.com” if you remembered it and then additionally type “/diablo3” to find the Diablo III related pages. Using Firefox 3’s Smart Location Bar, you could easily jump to what you want and perhaps find non-Blizzard pages that you might be interested in because you don’t have to remember to type the domain anymore.

A lot of pages on the Internet have URLs that are completely filled with junk — at least totally unmemorable for the user. Most likely the title of the page will have something much more useful. One prime example is YouTube where the video URLs are just some way for YouTube to know which video you want.

You’re more likely to remember the title of the page, which directly relates to the content of the video that you previously watched, than remembering even half of the random characters used to identify the video.

YouTube Results

Quickly find previously viewed YouTube videos

In this case, I was trying to find Wind Garden [youtube.com], an 8-bit remix of a really great song from Super Mario Galaxy. In other browsers, if I wanted to try finding the page from my history and started typing out “yout,” I would never have found it because somebody linked that video to me from nl.youtube.com. I was able to find it with Firefox 3 because “yout” matched in both the title and URL ignoring the “nl.” part.

Another example of the AwesomeBar’s time-saving ability that will be popular with movie watchers is with IMDb – the Internet Movie Database. If you’re like me and can’t remember which movies every actor has been in, you’ll be revisiting this site over and over again. However, instead of always going to to the main IMDb homepage to find a movie using the search box, you can go directly to the page you want with Firefox 3.

IMDb Results

Save time by going directly to movie page

These IMDb results show off yet another strength of the AwesomeBar — being able to match both the URL and title at the same time. Notice that “imdb” only shows up in the url. You can type “imdb” and then a word from the title to quickly narrow down the results to find the exact page you want. This saves you those extra seconds it takes to load the whole IMDb homepage and start a search.

You’ve got phone numbers, account numbers, social security numbers, personal identification numbers, and more numbers to keep track of. There’s no need to additionally keep track of IP addresses for those websites that don’t have easy-to-remember domain names.

Router Results

No need to memorize IP addresses anymore

Cellphones let you easily find phone numbers by Contact name, and Firefox 3 lets you find IP addresses by Page name. Just like how you need to enter the contact name and phone number the first time on your phone, you’ll need to type in the the IP address once. But on the up-side, you don’t even need to provide a name for the IP address because Firefox 3 will automatically remember the page’s title for you. 🙂

Gmail has done a great job with their newest version by providing multiple points of access to their web application. Each message can be accessed directly by URL instead of requiring the user to first load the main Gmail page then searching for a message.

Gmail Results

Get right to business with rich internet apps

Being able to access these multiple points of entry is facilitated by the AwesomeBar’s match-anywhere functionality. In this case, you would want to match page titles for email titles, but URLs can also be matched for commands like “new doc” for Google Docs [madhava.com].

By combining the AwesomeBar’s adaptive learning [ed.agadak.net] with the ability to start a Gmail search to find unread messages [mail.google.com] plus automatically selecting the first result [addons.mozilla.org] when pressing enter, I’ve been saving a lot of time whenever I check for new messages. All I need to do is type “mail” and press enter.

Digg it! Edit: Updated for post-Firefox 3 launch intro and a couple new examples.

65 Comments | Tags: AwesomeBar, Development, Google, Mozilla, Nintendo