What’s on your FireFox search dropdown?

Part two of a very short “FF2 happy happy joy joy” series, of which part one is right here.

I’m sort of an intermediate customizer–I tend not to use a lot of special hotshot browser addons, etc., so I don’t usually mess with options too much. (OK, except for insisting that pages use my choice of font; I just get so tired of the dreary typefaces that dominate the web).

But with FF2, since the one-click feed subscribe (with Bloglines or your favorite reader–ah, and there’s the real-time spellcheck kicking in, not liking either “Bloglines” or “spellcheck”), I’d already customized the toolbars somewhat–moving the web-search box down to the bookmarks toolbar (along with Gmail, form-fill, search highlight toggle, spellcheck, Google info, and–until I deleted it–the now redundant “Sub with Bloglines”) so that the location bar was wider (I’d already moved PageRank to the navigation toolbar). With the search box more visible, I figured I’d use it more–and that meant customizing the dropdown list.

So here’s my list, after two minutes’ work:

The big four:

  • Google
  • Yahoo!
  • Ask
  • Live Search (formerly MSN Search)

–and I note that FF still calls Ask “AskJeeves,” which is quaint.


  • Answers.com, which I have yet to try
  • Wikipedia (of course I use Wikipedia)
  • Worldcat.org
  • IMDB
  • Creative Commons
  • Amazon.

The last two are part of the default list (as is Answers.com–but, curiously, not Ask or Live Search). It’s trivially easy to add a site, assuming the creators want it to be added.

I do try to rotate web searches among the big four. I’m hearing that Live Search (vastly improved over MSN Search) is getting “newer” content (but haven’t attempted to prove that). I like Ask for answering questions directly and for a number of other features. Yahoo! and Google are, of course, Yahoo! and Google, and pretty competitive.

Sure I use Wikipedia. Why wouldn’t I? Not as a definitive answer, but as a great starting point, taken with a couple bushels of salt depending on the topic.

One mild annoyance/curiosity: If I’ve used Google as the search engine[apparently, any search engine in the dropdown, since it just happened with Worldcat.org], then go to Gmail, Gmail seems to assume that I want to search my mail archive with the Google search term [I’d used in the FireFox search box]….

So what’s on your search dropdown? Do you send all your searches to one engine? Have you tried Yahoo! or Live Search lately? (Or Ask, but Sarah Houghton-Jan has already–and correctly–noted that you really should give it a try, and I assume you take her more seriously than you do me.)

Here’s a question: What’s the fifth-place open web search engine?

Now to eliminate a bunch of bookmarks, since those are all redundant…

12 Responses to “What’s on your FireFox search dropdown?”

  1. PatrickD says:

    Here is my list. I’m a german user from Berlin that explain some of my entries:

    * Google
    * Yahoo
    * Amazon.de
    * A9

    * Wikipedia (de)
    * Wikipedia (en)
    * web.de – wikipedia (de)

    Libraries & Books

    * German National Library Catalog
    * GBV Catalog
    * google scholar (de)
    * google scholar
    * google books

    Sozial Software
    *delicious tags
    * furl

    * google pictures
    * discogs google search
    * IMDB
    * Creative Commons

    * Wörterbuch.info
    * Leo german – english
    * Babelfish en->de

    Other Stuff
    * Berlin.de (citymap)
    * c’t Artikel (articels of a computer journal)
    * Heise.de News
    * ebay

    Like you see i don’t use LiveSearch and also not ask.com.

    PS: You forgot to close a tag 😉

  2. walt says:

    Impressive. And thanks (I’ve closed the tag–which started out closed, and somehow got opened when I updated the entry.)

  3. Here’s my work list. My home list is shorter and more focused on general search and more specialized things like torrent search engines and Food Network’s search engine.

    Search Engines:


    Wikipedia (en)

    Google Scholar
    National Archives

    Social Software:

    Chemistry Glossary Online
    Google Science Directory
    NIST CAS Number
    NIST Chemical Name

    Acronym Finder
    Acronym Attic

    Google News
    Creative Commons


    The insane number of acronym search engines is because even after a year and a half a consultant will throw me an acronym and I’ll have no clue what he’s talking about. They’re probably the most used after the major search engines, followed by Wikipedia. The Chem sites I actually rarely use, but it’s easier than just bookmarking them all, and I do use each one of them occasionally. Google Scholar I’ve been using more and more frequently lately, when I get requests for specific articles.

  4. walt says:

    I’m impressed (by both lists); clearly, I’m a rank amateur.

  5. Steve Lawson says:

    My list is similar to Walt’s, but I also have the Flickr tag search and two custom searches I made for my library catalog and our state union catalog using the instructions I found on libdev and O’Reilly’s “Firefox Hacks” book. Here is the libdev link:


    But all I really use are Google, Ask, and those custom ones.

  6. Wow, I need to get the NIST ones! Thanks, Amanda.
    My work ones are (not in order, going by memory)
    Google Intranet (we have the Google appliance)
    Open Worldcat
    E-journal finder (I built this to search our sfx-generated journal a-z list and I use it all the time)
    JHU library catalog kw search
    UMD library catalog kw search
    JH Search engineering category (a meta-lib run federated search)
    Google Scholar
    Google Books
    Rollyo — my attempt at “scholarly science”
    My Furl Archive
    Engineering Village 2 (for Compendex)
    Inspec (via EbscoHost – home built)
    Creative Commons

    I rarely run VPN from home so I don’t have the databases or e-journal finder there. I have food network and epicurious food.

    Before ff2, I used ConQuery extensively to access these — so I didn’t even have to type. I’ve loaded Context Search so we’ll see how that goes.

  7. In addition to the defaults, I also have…

    Internet Public Library (IPL)
    Librarians Internet Index (LII)
    Reference Extract

    …but now y’all have given me some ideas for others I’d like to add!

    Thanks for posting this, Walt – cool idea.

  8. walt says:

    Keep ’em coming; little reason for me to comment except to promise that I will not, repeat not, start another wiki consisting of links to people’s FF2 search-engine lists…if that’s even possible.
    (“Another wiki”–LIS-related wikis seem to be proliferating as much as or more than individual ones are growing, which strikes me as odd. Since I’ve never started a wiki, I can’t start “another one” in that sense.)

  9. Greg says:

    I keep my list pretty short, but two of my as-of-yet-unmentioned favorites are Google Maps and Allmusic.

    Also, if you don’t use the Conquery extension, I highly recommend it. It allows you to highlight browser text and then right-click and query the selected text in any of the engines in your search list. It’s very handy to highlight an address and right-click to search it in Google Maps.

  10. walt says:

    Greg, thanks for the suggestion. I might give it a try. (I’m typically a late adopter when it comes to plugins and extensions…)

  11. Amy says:

    Great post! Mine are pretty boring, compared to some of these other lists, but now I have some great ideas of others to add – thanks!

    Creative Commons
    Wikipedia (gasp!)

  12. walt says:


    Interesting thing about perceptions:

    You put “(gasp!)” next to Wikipedia–but not next to Answers.com.

    Try a bunch of searches on Answers.com. You may find that, for stuff beyond dictionary definitions, a lot of your “answers” are going to come directly from…Wikipedia. But with a whole lot of advertising (and, admittedly, a nice fill-in-the-search feature). And, to be sure, additional material from other sources, some of them “authoritative.”