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Custom Search Engines in Google Chrome

by Chrome Blog on September 6, 2008

One very useful but not well documented feature in Google Chrome is the ability to use the Omnibox (Address Bar) to search on your favorite sites using the browsers ‘Search Engines’ feature.

For example i’m going to show you how to create a custom search on Google Images.

Step 1

Go to the Google Images home page and conduct a search for a word. After you search for your word, you want to copy the URL in the address bar. In this case i searched for Chrome, here is a screenshot and you want to take note of your search word for the next step which i have underlined in red as this will need to be changed.

Step 2

Next Right Click in the address bar and select Edit Search Engines and on the next window select Add. Now you just need to give your custom search engine a name and keyword. On the URL box, we just paste in our Google Images URL we copied in step 1 and we have to modify it slightly.

You will see where i have underlined the %s portion, this is where my search word Chrome was so all you need to do is replace the word you originally searched for with %s

Now, whenever you need to search Google Images you can do it directly from the address bar aka Omnibox by typing keyword term

In my case i gave Google Images the keyword ‘images’ so if i wanted to search for Google Chrome i would type:

images google chrome then hit enter.

Hey Presto the Omnibox will change like the below picture and you will be taken right to your search results when hitting enter.

You can do this for your favorite site regardless if it’s an actual search Engine like Google or Yahoo.

Here are a few examples to get you started, no need to edit the URL’s just go to Edit Search Engines and add them:

Google Images – http://images.google.com/images?gbv=2&hl=en&q=%s&btnG=Search+Images

Google Maps – http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=es&q=%s

I’m Feeling Lucky – http://www.google.com/search?btnI=I%27m+Feeling+Lucky&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=%s

Digg.com – http://digg.com/search?s=%s

Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Search?search=%s

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{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Matthew Boardman 09.06.08 at 8:20 pm

very nice! straight forward and simple. just like Chrome…

i was wondering why my omnibox wasnt working the way the brochure said

2 Matthew Boardman 09.06.08 at 8:53 pm

ive also noticed that chrome adds some search engines automatically. i went to GameFAQs, search AAA, checked engines and it was already there! facebook too

3 Charlie McGeorge 09.06.08 at 9:44 pm

Hey, this is really great! But did you know your “maps” link is set to Spanish mode? It says “hl=es” instead of “hl=en”. May want to fix that. =D But otherwise, very informative article, thanks!

4 Chaldon 09.09.08 at 4:50 am

When you open a new tab, you see on the right the Search bar with the search box for history + 3 most used search engines (for example, google, yahoo and wikipedia). Does anyone knows how to increase the number of search engines there from 3 to, let say, 5?

5 Bob Badgett 09.09.08 at 8:28 am

I do not think Chrome as implemented custom search engines (aka search plugins) well:
1. If the user has more than a few search engines installed on their browser, key words will likely be difficult to remember when invoking specific search engines. Why does Chrome not use a drop down box as done by FF and IE7?
2. From the developers perspective, I cannot find a way to facilitate adding search engines for users. Chrome seems to recognize opensearch xml and autodiscovery, but offers the user a very unintuitive process to add an engine. If the user clicks a link to an opensearch xml that is not already a custom search engine in the user’s browser, Chrome says ‘Edit search engine’ rather than ‘Add search engine’. Also, Chrome does not offer a name or keyword based on content in the xml. Also, Chrome does not educate the user on how to invoke custom search engines after they have been added to the browser.
3. Chrome does not offer a mechanism for updating custom search engines. I encourage Chrome to use the moz:UpdateUrl and moz:UpdateInterval tags.

6 Bob Badgett 09.09.08 at 9:46 pm

One answer to Chaldon’s question is to follow the instructions posted at the top of this column 9/6/2008. Alternatively, some websites are configured for autodiscovery of their search engines.
However, I have over 10 search engines installed, but never see more than 4 when I open a new tag. You can invoke the others by typing their associated keyword in the Omnibox with a search term.

7 Chaldon 09.10.08 at 8:15 am

Thanks, Bob,

I learned how to add custom search engines, and this article was quite helpful. I now have more than a dozen of them already, most, I suppose, came from my Firefox import, others were detected automatically. I got used to the Omnibox, it comes to be a handy thing indeed.

As for the configuration of the New Tab page, maybe, I just ask too much for now :)

8 will 10.08.08 at 5:21 pm

Thank you for documenting this. I’ve been confused about this since switching from Firefox.

9 Dan 10.20.08 at 6:15 pm

I tried to jump directly to a wikipedia article by setting my wikipedia “search alias” to:

While this works just fine with single word queries, it breaks with multi-word queries; the spaces end up being encoded as %2 which wikipedia thinks are + signs.

Note: This works just fine in Firefox; it has been working since FF 2.x and continues to work today in FF 3.0.3.

10 Oliver 11.20.08 at 2:32 pm

The more I use chrome the more I realise how brilliant it is, for example I only noticed the ‘paste and go’ feature and the fact that your favourite searches appear on the new tab page..and it just does everything automatically.

To the point though; for sites you search regularly, start to type the address in the omnibox and you get the option to press tab to search the site.

11 Aislin 11.27.08 at 10:47 am

informative post, keep it up.,

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Tammy, You have a lovely site with so many wonderful accolades.,

13 Ashwin 01.17.09 at 9:53 pm


Very useful post. I have a related post in my blog and used some references from here. Thanks.


14 joe 02.20.09 at 6:57 pm

mucho thanks

15 TechPastor 02.26.09 at 9:53 pm

Incredible stuff… I love it! I use Chrome as default now. This is a massive time saver thanks!

16 Katherine 03.19.09 at 4:32 am

Thanks for sharing, you are genius. Coolies, I love this little trick.

17 sandrar 09.10.09 at 5:53 pm

Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

18 alex morris 09.13.09 at 3:55 pm

how do i get google chrome has my search engine with the bar in the middle off the screen

19 Carl 11.28.09 at 11:00 am

This works fine for the examples given but how do you get it to work on sites where the URL doesn’t change after submitting the search term. Here’s an example of the type I mean: http://www.cpphotofinder.com/search.php

20 [skqr] 02.22.10 at 6:50 pm

Just stop congratulating Google, you ignorant fools.

FireFox has ALWAYS had that.

Also, Opera.

It’s so obvious you’ve never crawled out of your Windoze Box until yet another large corporation told you what’s new and what’s hot.

21 Anonymous 06.21.10 at 5:57 am

LOL @ all the FireFox fans who are having a cry.
Yeah, I know, FireFox is just SOO awesome… which is why I’ve swapped from FireFox to Google Chrome. Ouch, you just got pwnt!

Well, at least there is something where can all agree on;
Safari sucks (and so does all Apple products since Apple is for faggots).

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23 Blem 09.17.10 at 5:53 am

Thank you very much. I’ve been looking all over the internet for this.

24 Nate 01.30.11 at 12:44 pm

Hey, in the latest version Chrome doesn’t automatically use the search engine and you have to press Down to get to it. Any idea where we can set this to automatic again?

25 Frank 03.16.11 at 4:09 am

Yeah, Nate, I was wondering the same thing D:

26 Bryan@Turbotax 04.23.11 at 3:18 pm

Awesome tips and tricks here thanks for sharing this all of the methods descibed worked as you said. I also used it for hulu by using http://www.hulu.com/search?query=%s&ref=os&src={referrer:source?} the brackets seem to be needed for some custom searches.

27 Dan 05.17.11 at 8:05 am

These instructions don’t work in recent versions of Chrome.

28 Confused 06.05.11 at 9:14 pm

So I’ve done this with Chrome and it now has all my search engines added. But it does NOT search the engine I’m typing in as the first choice when I type it in.

For example, I’ve set my Amazon.com keyword to “ama” and now when I type “ama david suzuki” it will search google chrome for that phrase (I don’t use quotes with the phrase). To make it work, I have to actually type “ama david suzuki” and then click the down arrow to the SECOND choice, which is “search amazon.com for david suzuki”. The first choice remains search google for “ama david suzuki”

Any help? It’s real frustrating and it wasn’t always like this. It used to search the search engine I type in the keyword for as its first choice.

Any help?

29 anjanesh 02.08.12 at 3:06 am

thanks for the tip – was starting off to build a Chrome search plugin and this is a nice starter.

30 Roy 09.09.12 at 5:12 pm

How do I add google videos search engine to chrome?

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