Searching Google Land with Shortmarks

Late last year I wrote about Shortmarks (see blog post), a web-based service that provides a faster way to visit the web. For example, when I type the letter h in my browser’s address box, I’m whisked to my college’s website; the h is short for Highline Community College. The letters bn take me to Barnes and Noble. If in my browser’s address bar, I type bn Bird Sense, the Barnes and Noble site is automatically searched for books titled Bird Sense. (Side note: I just finished this book by Tim Birkhead. I highly recommend it for anyone with even a passing interest in birds.)

How Shortmarks works.

I tell my browser to make Shortmarks my default search engine. Any search I do in my browser gets filtered through my Shortmarks account first. If Shortmarks doesn’t have a match, Shortmarks will redirect to the search engine of my choosing.

When I edit my Shortmarks bookmarks, this is what I see. The keyword is what I type in my browser’s address bar. See bn? The name is the name of the website. The direct link is the URL for the website. If I just type bn, I am sent to this page. The next column, search link, is what is triggered when I type something after the keyword. In the example above, bn Bird Sense, launched the search link URL where Bird Sense was the search term.

Those search link URLs are incredibly useful, but they can be a bit of a hassle to find. Dwight Stegall in the Google forums kindly provided a bunch specifically for Google. Here are some search links for your reference.

Google calendar:

Google images:

Google video:

Google maps:

Google news:


Google books:

Google scholar:


Google docs:

Google reader:

Google I’m Feeling Lucky:

Google web search:



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2 thoughts on “Searching Google Land with Shortmarks

  1. As alternatives to this, the current version of Firefox already uses a feature called Awesome Bar
    “Get to your favorite sites quickly, even if you don’t remember the URL. Start typing and the Awesome Bar will include possible matches from your browsing history, bookmarked sites and open tabs.”

    In my experience, the Awesome Bar is pretty responsive and after a few times of choosing a particular option after typing some short string, it learns my preferences.

    The nicest thing is that this is not doing it by tracking me, it is my own system, so it isn’t a matter of privacy.

    And the other thing I use is instead of Google. DuckDuckGo is a privacy-respecting, very clean and effective search engine. And DDG does not do custom shortcuts, but it has tons of useful quick shortcuts. It already does the Barnes & Noble example. Type “!bn” with any other text and it automatically does a search there…

    Just some other options, not a full replacement of Shortmarks.

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