Custom Search Functionality for Coding

Ryan James Spencer

This may not be revelatory to some, but it's a cool trick I use daily and I thought I'd write about since it's managed to surprise enough colleagues and friends when I've used it. Credit where credit is due, I was taught this trick two years ago by Charles O'Farrell.

Firefox and Chrome both support this functionality but are setup differently. Let's say you have a github codebase with a particular org (which are also, confusingly, demarcated as users in github search). You want to find a repo quickly; you can quickly go to your search bar and hit repos a_project (or in the case of Chrome, repos<tab> a_project), hammer the enter key and you wind up at How?

In both Chrome and Firefox, you can add a custom search engine by right-clicking on the search 'bar' (form) you'd like to add, except in Firefox the mechanism works via bookmarks and Chrome has the functionality as it's own thing (seems like a first class citizen). There are custom search engines for Firefox you can add (I've noticed I can add them for things like,, amazon, et. al.) out of the box given a specific version (I'm not sure which) of Firefox but you'll still need to bookmark approach for most cases. Once you have the search URL you care about just replace the term you searched for with %s and all is well, e.g.

Some other examples of uses are:

  • code term - similar to the repos keyword above but searches across all repositories of an org for term
  • (||younameit) <module> - looks for module documentation, listing in some large store of knowledge
  • rstd term - search for term in the rust std lib (handy when paired with something like rust-tags so you can jump to definition inside of std in your editor)

The above are rust centric because it's what I've been in the headspace of but you could easily set this up for things like hoogle, amazon, shortening things like youtube to y,, and so on. Personally, it's been empowering to gain a handle on parameterizing search functionality with your address bar.