Easily add custom search engines to Chrome, Firefox & Internet Explorer

I wrote a couple of articles that focus on adding the ability to search various Google services from the Chrome address bar. Chrome provides a number of ways to add custom search engines. If the site for which you want to add the search engine exposes an OpenSearch provider, then Chrome auto detects the search engine and automatically adds it. For e.g. this site exposes an OpenSearch provider. So if you visit chrome://settings/searchEngines and scroll down to Other search engines, you will see an entry for the webstruck search engine as shown below.

webstruck search engine for Chrome

webstruck search engine for Chrome

Firefox too auto detects open search provider for current site but does not add it automatically. Instead, when you click on the search box drop down, it shows an option to add it manually. Although Internet Explorer supports open search providers unlike Safari, there is no auto detection and no easy way to add custom search engines.

Add webstruck search engine to Firefox

Add webstruck search engine to Firefox

How to add a new custom search engine provider?

There are web services like Mycroft Project & searchplugins.net that host a huge list of useful custom search engine providers. You can add these to Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer easily with one click. Just search for the providers you are looking for at Mycroft Project or searchplugin.net and click to install. The search engine will be ready for use instantly. As explained later in this article, Chrome and Firefox allows you to edit a newly added search engine and provide keyword of your choice so that you can easily search from the address bar itself.

How do I create my own custom search engine provider?

By any remote chance if you do not find the search engine provider you are looking for, you can create one easily. Mycroft Project and searchplugins.net both provide the option to create a new search engine provider. You just need to enter a search URL and the name. The other default values should work just fine most of the time. If you are interested in details, Mycroft Project offers description for each field. Once the plug-in is ready, you can install it right away and test it. Although plug-ins created using above services work in Internet Explorer, there is another easy to use tool called EnhanceIE that works only for Internet Explorer although it also generates OpenSearch provider only.

How do I customize an existing search engine provider?

As mentioned above, Chrome allows you to edit all the details for a search engine very easily. Just right click in the address bar and select Edit search engines…. Here you can edit name, keyword and URL itself for each search engine provider.

In Firefox, you can click on the dropdown in the search box and select Manage Search Engines…. Firefox allows you to edit only the keyword for the search engine. If at all you need to edit the URL, you need to get little geeky. The search engines installed with the Firefox setup are put under Firefox installation directory like C:\Program Files (x86)\Mozilla Firefox\browser\searchplugins. The search engines that are installed separately using the above techniques, reside under your Firefox profile folder. Type about:support in the Firefox address bar and click on Show Folder button next to Profile folder label. The search plugins will be located under seachplugins folder. You can open and edit these files in any text editor, as these are just XML files. You may refer to OpenSearch description document for details of each entry although most entries are self-explanatory.

How do I remove a custom search engine provider?

It is easy to remove search engines from all the three browsers we are discussing here. In Chrome, you can just click the X button when you hover over search engines in Manage search engines dialog. Firefox also provides Remove button in Manage Search Engine dialog itself. In Internet Explorer, click on Tools icon and select Internet Options. Select Programs tab and click on Manage add-ons button. Select Search Providers in the left pane to display a list of all search engine providers. Select the one you want to remove and click on the Remove button at the bottom.

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