Shortly after Google Chrome launched, we came out with a guide outlining a few of its features and some useful tips and tricks. Now almost 3 years later, Chrome has grabbed a sizeable portion of the browser market share and has become the default browser for many users. During its growth, Chrome has matured greatly and especially its address bar (commonly known as the “Omnibox“) has become a playground for useful features. In this article, I will highlight some of those useful features.
1. Perform searches using the Omnibox
It is fairly simple to use the Omnibox to perform a search. Key in the query and hit Enter. However, often when you type in a query, a website shows up in the results list.
If instead, you wish to do a pure Google Search, simply put a “?” before your query.
This will perform a Google search rather than loading the URL.
2. Perform basic calculations
The Omnibox is almost like an extension of Google Search so if you wish to perform some type of calculation or unit conversion, simply input it into the Omnibox.
The result will be displayed right there in the drop-down list.
3. Add search engines
The Omnibox allows you to add search engines to it so that you can perform searches of various websites directly from the Omnibox. To do so, right click on the Omnibox and select “Edit search engines…”.
This will pop-open the Chrome preferences tab allowing you to add the name of the external website you wish to search.
Enter the name of the search engine (e.g. “Make Tech Easier”) enter the keyword (e.g. “maketecheasier.com”) and finally enter the URL (e.g. “http://maketecheasier.com/about/search-result/?cx=012219648382774935931%3A71v9_lruh3c&cof=FORID%3A11&q=%s”). It is important to put a memorable keyword as this is what you have to type into the Omnibox before starting the search. So, if you want to search for articles on Google Chrome on Make Tech Easier, you can type in “maketecheasier.com”, hit the “TAB” key and start searching.
4. Omnibox Extensions
A few months ago, Google released the Omnibox API to allow enterprising developers to create extensions that would enhance the functionality of the Omnibox. Here are a couple of my favourite extensions:
Switch to Tab: With this extension you can search your open tabs and switch between them. Simply type in “sw<tab>” followed by the query you wish to search. After hitting Enter, you will automatically switch to the tab with the query.
Currently, there are no other popular extensions, however I am sure more will be released soon.
Bonus: Icon guide
When you type in something in the Chrome Omnibox, a variety of results pop out.
These results all fall into the following five categories with differing icons:
- The icon appears next to bookmarked sites.
- The icon appears next to sites from your browsing history.
- The icon appears next to searches, including related searches if you have the prediction service turned on.
- The icon appears next to related sites when you have the prediction service turned on.
- The icon appears next to web apps you’ve installed from Chrome Web Store.
Google Chrome’s Omnibox is a powerful tool that negates the use of many extensions simply because it can do anything and everything. Chrome and the Omnibox are evolving everyday and to keep track of its new features head over to the Google Chrome and find more information here.
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