Firefox Tip – Use the ^ Search Operator

This list of 11 secret Firefox tips is fantastic! Number 2 will change your life! OK, that’s overselling it a lot. Many of those I already knew, but the second tip really is great:

Search for a needle in a tabstack

Tab hoarders, we see you. Heck, we are you. Don’t ever let anyone shame you for having dozens (and dozens3) of open tabs, implying you don’t have it together and can’t find the right one. Instead, dazzle them with this trick. Add a % sign to your URL search bar to search specifically through all your open tabs, including tabs in different windows. Then you can click over to the already open tab instead of creating a duplicate, not that anyone has ever done that.

Bonus tip: If you love that tab search trick, try searching through your Bookmarks with * or your History with ^.

I’ve (somewhat) cut down on my tab hoarding thanks to One Tab and Pinboard, but my Firefox history is massive. Being able to search my history with ^ is a game-changer for me. I’m actively trying to build up my muscle memory for using that search operator.

Firefox 2’s great new feature with a horrible UI

Firefox 2 (which is officially released today) has a great new bookmarking feature: Microsummaries.

These are short bits of information in bookmarks’ titles that update from time to time. Imagine bookmarking an eBay auction and seeing the current price in your bookmarks bar, or bookmarking your webmail and seeing your unread messages count, or bookmarking this blog and seeing the latest blog post title. Well with the last one, you can. Here’s how:

First, install Firefox 2.0 if you haven’t already. Bask in the integrated spellchecker, marvel at the extension upgrade process, yadda yadda yadda. Got it? OK.

Go to my blog and bookmark it by either going to the “Bookmarks” menu then “Bookmark This Page…” or using the Cmd-D keyboard shortcut (Ctrl-D on Windows/Linux).

Wait a couple seconds for the “Name:” field to become a dropdown. Finally, choose the one under “Live Titles” and your bookmark will update periodically whenever I make a new post.

Bookmarks properties dialog

That’s it! Thanks to Brian for cluing me in to this, he’s got it working on WordPress with WP-Microsummary. I rolled my own solution for Movable Type, but I’ll leave that for another day.

Hopefully the Firefox team improves the usability of this feature, it’s kind of sad that there’s no way to spot microsummary-enabled sites out of the box. I suspect that extensions and Greasemonkey scripts will fill in some of the gap.

Also, I’m just scratching the surface of microsummaries. It’s even possible to add microsummaries for sites that don’t support them (including the eBay example from above), but now that you know about them you can go find out more on your own.

[Update: OK, the UI isn’t as awful as I thought, I originally thought the only way to get the Microsummary was to bookmark and then to right-click on it and choose properties. I’ve updated the post to reflect the fact that Microsummaries are also available with the “Bookmark this page…” dialog.]