A Chromebook has the power of Chrome and Google’s search engine built-in. Google often finds too much stuff. Creating custom search engines enhance the experience by creating killer shortcuts. With Chromebooks, you don’t have apps, so your whole experience is web-based.
How to Find Your Existing Default Search Engine
Depending on your browsing habits, Google probably put a ton of search engines in your browser. To find these, click on the hamburger icon in the upper-right hand corner and go to Settings and then look for Search in the middle of the window. Then click Manage Search Engines. You can also type chrome://settings/searchEngines in the Omnibox.
Your Chromebook will use Google as the default search engine. This laptop is a Google device after all. You aren’t stuck; you can change the search engine to Yahoo!, Ask or even Bing. To change your default search engine, hover over the engine and Make Default will show up.
When you type a search term in the Omnibox, the results will show up as Bing results.
Whichever search engine you pick as your default, you can search it and others through a shortcut on the Omnibox.
Shortcuts to Search Engines in Google Chrome
Even if you leave your search engine as Google, you might want to search Bing. Sure you could type bing.com in the Omnibox and then put your search term in. That is a two-step process you can reduce to two letters.
From that same Search engines settings, click on one of the search engines. In the middle column, change what is there to whatever shortcut you want. I set it in this example to bi but I could have put in something shorter like b or the word bing.
After you create the shortcut, type it in the Omnibox and then press the tab. Whatever you type next will be sent to Bing as a search. If you look in that default search box, you’ll see most engines you can type part of the name and search in one step. At least you don’t have to go to the website and then search. The search engines let you do it all in one step
Clean Up What’s in Your Search Engines
Your history might not give you away if you clear it, but your Other Search engines might reveal stuff you don’t want to share. Click on the search engines you don’t want and then click the x next to it. That will remove the search engines you don’t want.
If some of those search engines are handy, go into that middle column and create a few shortcuts. I keep a list of my key shortcuts in a Google keep document so it is always handy.
Creating a Personal Google Search
Websites often have built-in search functions, but they may not be as good as Google’s. To search a site with Google, all you need to do is put site: in front of your search term. So if I want to search Guiding Tech for all my articles, I could put in
Site:guidingtech.com Dave Greenbaum
That query uses Google to search Guiding Tech for my name. That’s extra work though. Since I search that site often, I can convert this search into a custom search engine. Scroll down to the bottom of the Other Search Engines until you find a blank box.
In the first column, put in a descriptive name for your search engine. This label makes it easy for you to find. It doesn’t change the search term or query. In the second column, put your shortcut in. For Guiding Tech, I use GT. Then in that last column, I put the actual query.
That tells Google to search the site guidingtech.com. Now I just type GT in the Omnibox to search all of Guiding Tech from Google.
Fun Search Engines for Chromebook Users
Since Chromebooks use the browser for most things, some quick shortcuts save you steps. In each of these custom search engines, just put a descriptive name in the first column, a shortcut in the second, and in the third the suggested query
- Google Drive:
- Directions from your home (if you told Google):
- Update Twitter: (use your status instead of search term):
- Sent an email:
mailto:?to%s (use the email address to send to instead of the search term)
- Search Evernote:
- Create Calendar event:
Don’t limit yourself to the ideas here. Check the URLs when you’re on a site to create some shortcuts. You’ll notice %S is the value that is passed to the URL when you use a shortcut.