Tooltip Thursday - Tooltip #3 - Keyword Searching

7239958506_9b96d975b2Whatever browser you are currently using, I guarantee that it contains many abilities hidden underneath the surface that you are not yet leveraging.  Keyword searching is one of the easiest and simplest ways of making yourself more efficient on a daily basis (consider for a moment how often you search for something in your browser). I'm a Safari user, so will write from that perspective.  If you use any other browser, you can search online for the process to create your own keyword searches.

Every time I want to search YouTube for something, it requires that I enter YouTube in my address bar, then locate the search field, type in my search, and hit enter.  That's four steps.  If you're not using keyboard shortcuts to jump to the address bar (⌘-L on Macs, Ctrl-L on Windows), it requires reaching for the mouse as well.

Wasted time.

Instead, let's set up a quick search for YouTube, so that we can cut out all of those unnecessary steps.   Here's how:

  1. First, go to YouTube.  Find the search bar, and enter a simple search string.  Let's search for "alan partridge".  Hit enter.
  2. Once your search results have loaded, highlight your address bar, and copy the URL.
  3. Now that you have that copied, right-click on the search bar.  From the context menu, select "Keyword Search Settings...".
  4. At the bottom of the screen displayed, click "+"
  5. In the Keyword field, type "y"
  6. In the URL Expansion field, paste the URL you copied in step 2.  It should look something like this: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=alan+partridge&oq=alan+partridge&gs_l=youtube.3..0l10.184023.185344.0.185458.14.8.0.5.5.1.153.627.6j2.8.0...0.0...1ac.1.11.youtube.cKGtKgbl7WM
  7. In general, the URL will contain your search query, along with a bunch of other information you needn't concern yourself with.  Highlight everything after "search_query=alan+partridge" (so starting from the first &), and delete it.
  8. Lastly, we need to set up this search so that it doesn't always search for "alan partridge", but instead searching for whatever you typed.  Highlight "alan+partridge", and replace it with "@@@".  This tells Safari to take whatever you type after "y" in the search bar, and use that as your YouTube search.
  9. Click Save.

You're done.  Now, instead of the four steps you previously had, you can simply hit ⌘-L, type "y alan partridge", and hit enter to run your search.  This is vastly more efficient, especially since we've removed the mouse from the picture.

Productivity and efficiency can be a bit of a trap.  If we're trying to do faster that which we don't want to do in the first place, we should really be shifting our focus to how can we remove this item off of your plate.

However, for things that we do on a daily basis (eg. Internet searches), even the smallest enhancement in productivity will add up and reap dividends over time.  These are the places where we want to make our systems more efficient.

Where are you currently experiencing slow downs in your productivity?  Efficiency is the water I swim in, and I don't always notice what I've done to speed things up.  Post a comment and let us know where you would like to cut back on waste and inefficiency, so that we can provide tips aligned with that.