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Chromium: changing the default keyword search

I just came across a pretty cool feature of Chromium…keyword searches.  I know that this idea isn’t new, and now that I know about it, it’s clearly documented in the Google Chrome help pages, but I’ll put up some screenshots anyway.

You begin by typing the URL of the site you’re going to (Chromium will suggest the search you might be looking for):

chromium_search_bar

Press Tab to bring up the site specific search option in the address bar:

chromium_wikipedia_search

Chromium will a few suggestions that might be useful to you:

chromium_search_suggestions

I noticed that Chromium tells you it’s using a keyword to make the suggestion, which made me think that there must be a way to edit your preferences for what the keyword for each site should be.  A short search later showed that it’s actually pretty easy (although not necessarily intuitive) to edit the keywords.  Right click anywhere in the address bar and choose “Edit search engines”.  In the screenshot below you can see that I’ve changed my keyword for a Wikipedia search from en.wikipedia.org, to wp.

chromium_keyword_edit

You can find some more useful tips on working with Chromium at The power users guide to Google Chrome, from Lifehacker.

Chromium browser and extensions

So the Linux build of Chromium (the open source browser than Google Chrome is based on) has been out for a while now and every now and again I’ve been upgrading to the latest developer release just to see how it’s coming along. Lately, the builds have been a lot more stable, font rendering hasn’t been a problem in a long time and small features are regularly being added. It seems (for my purposes anyway) that Chromium is starting to become a serious contender as my browser of choice.

The reason I haven’t been using Chromium as my default browser up until now has been the lack of extensions that make Firefox the best browser available. Recently though, that’s changed, although the public version still doesn’t have extensions enabled.

A few days ago I upgraded to 4.0.233.0 (Ubuntu build 30813), using the Chromium daily build PPA enabled with Ubuntu-Tweak, and it’s simply blown me away. I estimated that the startup time of Chromium on my machine is about 4-5 times faster than Firefox (edit: I’m running Firefox 3.5.4 but it would be more fair to compare it to 3.7), and rendering of complex pages also seems to be faster (see this post that confirms the speed improvements).  That prompted me to have a look to see how the extension support is coming along and I like what I found, even though some of the extensions lack the polish of their Firefox equivalents (it is early days).  You can find a list of extensions at Chromium extensions, as well as follow some plugin development at Chrome Plugins.

It seems that the guidelines for extension development under Chromium is sensible and well thought-out (I’m not a developer, but it makes sense to me), and I’m pretty excited about what’s on the way. One of the nicest touches is that the browser doesn’t need to be restarted after installing (or uninstalling) an extension, and the installation process is less intrusive than Firefox’s.  It must be nice to come in after someone else has made the mistakes that you can then avoid.  Some of the more useful extensions I’ve come across so far are:

All in all, Chromium is looking more and more like it will replace Firefox as my default browser in the near future, especially if development continues at this pace.  I’m not sure if I’m ready to make the shift just yet (there are still some Firefox extensions that I can’t live without), but I’m starting to see a time when Chromium is faster, more intuitive and more elegant than Firefox.

Note: it’s not immediately apparent, but if you want to uninstall an extension go to chrome://extensions, find the one you want to uninstall, and press Uninstall.