Bookmarks. Favorites. Most of us save a list of sites we often visit or want to re-find again… either by adding them as a Bookmark in Firefox or as a Favorite in Internet Explorer or even adding the site to our online list residing on del.icio.us or Spurl, and so on.
Also, lots of us have browser toolbars by Yahoo! or Google or other folks. Unfortunately, there’s a huge disconnect here.
I visit Salon.com regularly. Same with Google News, SlickDeals, and many other sites. In Firefox, it’s very easy to assign a shortcut to access any one of my favorite sites; for instance, I can type sd into my Firefox address bar and be immediately whisked to SlickDeals.net. Even cooler, I can type gns lindy hop and instantly be brought to the search results page of Google News that shows me if there are any recent articles about Lindy Hop.
The downside? If I want to use any of these shortcuts on other computers (at a friend’s place, at work, when visiting my parents), I have to somehow copy over my Firefox preference files over via a thumbdrive or whatnot. Or, if they don’t have Firefox, I’m screwed.
This is where browser toolbars come in—or, rather, where they SHOULD come in.
In a nutshell, ALL the major toolbars should—when I’m logged in to my Passport or Google or Yahoo account or whatever—automatically let me…
1) Bookmark and assign a shortcut keyword for any site (e.g., msbc for http://microsoft.blognewschannel.com/).
Thereafter, I should then be able to type that shortcut into the toolbar search box and immediately be whisked off to that site.
2) Add a search shortcut by right-clicking on any search box of any site and choosing a shortcut keyword, just like I can do in 10 seconds on Firefox today.
For instance, I should be able to easily make amzs creative zen immediately search Amazon for any product with the words creative zen in them.
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IMHO, this request is both relatively easy to implement and capable of significantly simplifying the online lives of lots of people. I honestly believe that the first major company to add this feature to their toolbar is likely to have a significant competitive advantage (“Jump to your favorite pages in a jiffy and do fast handy searches… no matter what computer you’re on!”) *and* increased penetration (e.g., if have all my bookmarks via my Google account and I’m visiting my parents who don’t have the Google Toolbar installed on their computer, I may just go ahead and install it for them so I can easily access my bookmark shortcuts :D)
It’s not like this would require a huge overhaul for the majors, either. I know that Yahoo!, for instance, already enables people to bookmark pages from their toolbar. And what a great complement to Yahoo’s My Web 2.0 this would be, eh?!
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Do you think this feature set would indeed be massively popular? Or is it instead just something a geek like myself could love? Your thoughts…?
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EDITED on January 25, 2006 to add:
Whoops! It looks like I overlooked the fact that Yahoo! in fact already does exactly what I’ve outlined above! :O
Specifically, at least when signed in, you can type an exclamation mark immediately followed by a shortcut and VOILA! For instance, !ebay canon sd550 brings you directly to the search results listings page for that camera on ebay. Additional, you can create your own custom shortcuts. As a bonus, this works:
– from the regular address bar (if you’ve set Yahoo! as your default search engine)
– from the Yahoo! search box on Yahoo’s site.
– from the Yahoo! toolbar.
My only quibble? An exclamation mark is an annoying character to use to indicate a shortcut search, since it requires the use of the shift key (one extra keypress… it adds up!) *and* it’s located on different places depending on your keyboard type (internationally). I think it’d be better if folks could specify their own shortcut-indicator key.
Still, this is quite a cool offering from Yahoo!, and thanks to the little byrdie (who wishes to remain anonymous) who let me know about this over e-mail. Oh, and apologies for overlooking this feature initially! Google, MSN… you have some catching up to do here ;-).
Lastly, here are more details on the Yahoo! Open Shortcuts feature.