Search Engine Shortcuts
This is something that bugs me in every browser... It's regarding the feature that lets you search from the address bar, for example type "g something" searching Google for the phrase "something". Nearly all browsers have this feature now. The issue is that Windows itself already has this built in going all the way back to at least XP (and maybe earlier?), and NO browser utilizes it. They all have their own settings and do not either sync their own settings with it or even have the capability of a one-time import. The settings for these shortcuts are in the registry, under HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchUrl. There are none configured by default so if you don't use this feature already and go looking in your own registry you'll find the key empty (or missing). It would be trivial for any browser to at the very least import these already-configured settings. Or ideally when running on a Windows environment, just use them exclusively! There's no need for a Windows browser to have its own search shortcuts system. Just let the user customize the shortcut system that's already there from within the browser Settings screen. I make extensive use of the Address Toolbar on the Windows Taskbar. And since [b]no[/b] current browser (outside of IE) is able to understand the existing Windows SearchUrl feature, I have to either manually duplicate my 20+ search shortcuts in every browser I use (which is a major irritation when I need to modify or add a new one), OR I have to rely solely on the Address Bar in the Taskbar and forget about searching from the address bar built into the browser itself. Doesn't anybody else even know that this feature existed in Windows, long before other browsers started adding their own (often less powerful) versions? Why not make use of it?
Your first post, so welcome!
Very interesting question, and certainly interesting as a first post in the Vivaldi forum.
I certainly didn't know that SearchUrl key existed (though I would be unlikely to, as I use IE as little as possible, and don't even use or customize the Address Bar search feature in Opera or Vivaldi), but I checked both of my Win7 machines and found it (but empty on both of my machines).
I imagine any browser could be designed to import or use those values if they already exist (probably would even be trivial, as you noted)…
...I could be wrong, but I'm guessing that most IE users (and probably most Vivaldi or Opera users) don't even know about the feature in IE, so their registry key isn't populated. And my guess is that even fewer use the Address Toolbar on the Taskbar. So there probably has been little demand (or none?) to carry the SearchUrl addresses over to other browsers, although I can sure see why you would want it with your work patterns.
My thoughts probably don't add much, but I thought I would at least reply. If you were going to find other users who are familiar with the IE SearchUrl registry key, I would think you would find them in the Vivaldi or Opera communities. Maybe if enough other Vivaldi users reply here it will give some indication how well-known (or not) the SearchUrl key is in a community with many knowledgeable users.
I have found very few others that know about the SearchURL feature. As near as I can tell, it was first introduced in the XP PowerToys application TweakUI which was very popular. TweakUI itself goes back to Win95 but I'm not sure if the SearchURL feature existed before XP, as that is when I became aware of it. As a matter of fact, I just Googled it and the screenshot used on Wikipedia for TweakUI shows the exact tab/page where these search strings are configured! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:TweakUI.png
Though it is technically an option specific to IE, there's no reason why any other browser couldn't use the settings that are already right there in the registry. Even if the user hasn't configured any search strings for IE, if every browser used that key instead of their own proprietary system then search strings would be universal and work for every installed browser.
As a matter of fact, I just Googled it and the screenshot used on Wikipedia for TweakUI shows the exact tab/page where these search strings are configured! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:TweakUI.png
Ahh. So it is! How nice for your purposes here!
I could be wrong, but I would guess that the key wasn't introduced by TweakUI, so much as revealed to users by TweakUI.
Of course, back when I used IE regularly (and also used TweakUI) I didn't care much about using different search engines and just used Google Advanced Search as my homepage, so I would not have noticed that TweakUI option.
…if every browser used that key instead of their own proprietary system then search strings would be universal and work for every installed browser.
I was thinking about that very idea while drafting my previous post. I don't know if that would be possible, as I don't know how tightly MS has locked down the permissions to write to that key. (A quick check via regedit on my Win7 Pro installation suggests that maybe the key could be written by a browser run with Admin privileges, but registry key permissions can be very tricky and I haven't spent enough time with Group Policy Editor to sort out what it could tell me.) But it seems (to me, a non-coder) that it wouldn't be "appropriate" from a software development standpoint to write to that key, and I would think it would probably be considered a security risk to IE.
However, it doesn't seem to me there would be any problem with browsers reading whatever values are there and creating identical values somewhere in their own registry keys / INI files / settings files (and it appears all users would have permission to read from the SearchUrl key.
I was wondering if you have considered/explored exporting that key, editing it in a text editor, and importing it somehow into any other browsers? (…and if so, how easy/difficult it was?)
Also, I was wondering how the Address Toolbar on the Windows Taskbar comes into play. Are you perhaps trying to get search to work from the Address Toolbar using something besides IE as a default browser?
Yes you are correct, TweakUI did not technically introduce the feature but rather "exposed" it. Prior to that there was no were to edit those settings besides directly modifying the registry manually. I suspect that's why so few knew about it. Not only did you have to download and install TweakUI, but you had to understand how it worked and that it was a feature for IE. Other browsers didn't "introduce" that feature until years later.
The Taskbar Address toolbar has always launched whatever your current default browser is (and always honors SearchUrls regardless of the browser it launches. That's how I've used it for years and always ignored the search string features built into so many browsers because none of them could even import my existing settings. Most browsers don't support string replacements either so any site that used non-standard search styles would never work. For example, ages ago when searching AllMusic, spaces needed to be replaced with | instead of +. And with an EpGuides shortcut you can remove spaces to jump directly to a TV show page without having to "search" at all. IE SearchUrl can do both, most browsers couldn't (probably still can't?).
I hadn't thought about permissions issues, but that shouldn't be too big of a hurdle, if it is one. Worst case scenario, it could ask for permissions during install for a one-time import of existing settings.
Every time you add an OS specific setting to a multiplatform program, you add a level of complexity on the build and debug processes, which is not always worth the effort.
Whatever, the only decent way to manage this in Windows, would be an option to use the systemwide setting or a browser specific one.
That's true for other settings like the one about the proxy.