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If there’s something in this world I absolutely love, it’s shortcuts. Even if it’s a feature I can fire up by clicking an easily accessible button, I’ll always very much prefer to do the finger equivalent of the splits to hit the right keys and make it happen without my hands ever leaving the keyboard. 

The same goes for any other functionality that keeps my mouse gathering dust. Google Chrome’s search engine management is one of them. If you use this browser, you have probably noticed that the most popular search engine on the internet is built right into the address bar—type whatever you want to know, hit return, and you’ll see pages of Google results. 

Well, Google is not the only one. You can add more search engines, summon each one whenever you want, and get results instantly. And I’m not only talking about Bing or DuckDuckGo. Most sites have internal search functions that help users find content in their domain. Think about the search bar on Amazon, YouTube, or even that magnifying glass right next to “Newsletter sign-up” at the very top of this page. I’m talking about typing W into Chrome’s address bar and focusing Google’s all-seeing eye solely on Wikipedia’s domain.

How to set up new search engines on Google Chrome

Ironically, setting up the features that will allow you to keep your hands on your keyboard requires you to use your mouse. Right-click on the address bar and choose Manage search engines. If you prefer a more traditional route, you can always go to the main menu by clicking the three dots to the right of your avatar, going to Settings, clicking Search engines on the sidebar, and then finding Manage search engines.

There, you’ll see two lists: Default search engines and Other search engines. The first one on the default engines list is, to no one’s surprise, Google. If you’re happy with the internet searching services of the big G, you can keep that there or click on Add at the bottom of the list. Here, you can add your Bings, your DuckDuckGos, and any general search engine you might want to use. You can even dethrone Google and make Yahoo the way you search the web by default. The sky’s the limit. 

[Related: Google vs. DuckDuckGo vs. Bing—is it time to switch your search engine?]

When you hit Add, a popup window will ask you for three pieces of information: Search engine (the name of the website you want to add), Keyword (a word or letter combo that will summon said search engine), and a URL.

You can literally type anything you want in the first field. Once you enter the URL, the list will automatically populate with the favicon of the site, which is usually the site’s logo, so you won’t mistake it for something else. 

The keyword may be the most important setting, as it’ll determine how easy it’ll be to summon your search engine of choice. If, for example, you’re adding Popular Science, having “popsci.com” as your keyword is not going to save you a lot of time since that’s a functional URL of the site. Choose something short and simple like “pop,” “ps,” or even “p.” Next time you want to search for, say the best way to reheat pizza or how to make oat milk with science, you’ll only have to type “ps”, hit the spacebar, and enter your query.

For the engine’s URL, you’ll need to go to the site you’re adding, type %s into the search bar, and hit enter—you want the address of the resulting page. Be careful though: sometimes sites break down search terms and separate them in the URL using numbers. For example, when searching for %s from the PopSci search bar, the resulting address is popsci.com/search/%25s. The same thing happens with YouTube (youtube.com/results?search_query=%25s) and even Amazon (amazon.com/s?k=%25s). If this is the case with the engine you want to add, copy and paste the URL into the pop-up window, and make sure you delete that 25 before you click Save. 

Suggestions to make the most out of your search engines

Having different search engines working from within Chrome can save you lots of clicking and typing, especially if you consult the same websites time and again. Below, we’ve included the correct URLs that will direct your search to several handy locations—just copy and paste them into your browser’s search engine list.  

Google Drive

I’m too lazy to type drive.google.com, so I gravitate towards moving to my Gmail tab, clicking on the Google apps icon, and opening my Drive from there. This is silly and terribly time-consuming. Especially when I can access all my documents from the address bar.

URL: https://drive.google.com/drive/search?q=%s  

Wikipedia

Google now has knowledge cards that preview Wikipedia articles right on the results page, but that doesn’t prevent us from falling into a rabbit hole of whatever happened to that actor who was a guest on that one episode of that show from the 60s. 

Pro tip: There are some pages in Wikipedia that only live in their native language, so if you’re constantly searching for region-specific articles, you might want to add the online encyclopedia in a different language, with a different keyword. For example, I use “w” for English and “wiki” for Spanish. 

URL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%s (English), https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/%s (Spanish)

YouTube

Google’s video platform has a homepage because every platform has to have one, but people rarely use it. You can easily bypass it by setting it up as a search engine. 

URL: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=%s

Merriam-Webster

If you work with words, you probably have a dictionary site you always use. Merriam-Webster.com is always a great choice, and if you have style questions, you can consult AP.com. 

URL: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/%s, https://www.apstylebook.com/search?query=%s

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