Make Your Gunsmithing Searches Quicker and Easier

All of the major web browsers give you the ability to quickly search a website without having to first visit the page. They do this by providing a search box that lets you type in a search request and when you press enter it takes you to the website with the results you requested ready and waiting for you. I have a Google search engine set up so that no matter where I am on the web I am one step away from the Google search results I am looking for. This may not sound like a big deal, but if you do a lot of searching this saves you a step or two each time you use it.

Your browser will come with one or more choices in search engines already installed and you can find and install new ones. I have found search engines for Amazon, eBay, Twitter, YouTube and countless others but I could not find one for the web sites that I use while looking for gunsmithing parts and information.

I decided to see what it takes to create one of these search engines and found that it only takes a little bit of coding to create the files necessary. I tinkered around a little bit and created search engines for two of the gunsmithing sites that I visit most often, www.Brownells.com and www.MidwayUSA.com. I have been using my “home brewed” search engines for about a year now and thought a few of you might find them handy. I have made them available here and have written instructions for installing and using them.

All of the major browsers give you the ability to add and use search engines but there is no uniform way of installing and using them. I have written instructions explaining how to install the search engines in the three major browsers in their current version. (Internet Explorer Version 11, Google Chrome Version 35.0, and Firefox Version 29). These steps or something similar should work for older versions but you really should be using the newest version of your browser.

Click on the link below for the browser you are using to see the installation instructions.

Firefox

Firefox is the easiest browser to set up and use the search engines with, just follow the steps below:

  1. Locate the search bar near the top right corner of the Firefox window and click the drop down arrow next to the icon.
  2. You will see two entries listed as Add “Brownells” and Add “MidwayUSA” Click on the first one.
  3. Repeat steps one and two for the second search engine.

Your done.

Now to use the search engine just go to the search bar, click on the drop down list, choose the search provider to use, type in your search term and hit enter. Your computer will open a new tab with the search results you were looking for.

Firefox remembers the last search engine that you used and will use it again until you choose a different search engine. You can tell which search engine is currently being used by the small icon displayed in the search box.

If you want to rearrange the order that the search engines are listed or remove them entirely you can do so by clicking on the drop down arrow next to the icon in the search bar and choose the option “Manage Search Engines” This will display a list off all of your currently installed search engines and allow you to remove them or change the order in which they are listed.

Chrome
Installing in Chrome is pretty straight forward just follow the steps below:

  1. Click on one of these two links:
    Add Brownells Search Provider
    Add MidwayUSA Search Provider

  2. In the popup window titled Edit Search Engine go to the Keywords box and change brownells.com to `br  or change midwayusa.com to `mi (I will explain why in a little bit).
  3. Click the OK button to add that search engine.
  4. Repeat step two for the other search engine.

Your done.

Now to use the search engine just go up to the address bar (where you would normally type a website address like www.gunsmithinfo.com) and type in the keyword you entered in step two followed by your search term. For example:Type   `br 1911 Magazine Spring  and press enter to search Brownells.com for 1911 Magazine Springs. To do the same search at MidwayUSA you would type  `mi 1911 Magazine Spring and press enter.

If you want to change the keyword that you type or remove the search engine completely you can do so by clicking the hamburger icon*, the three short stacked horizontal lines and choosing the Settings menu. Scroll down a little bit until you see the Manage Search engines button and click on it. You will see a list of the installed search engines. You can click on one to change the keyword or click on the X to delete the search engine completely.

* Yes, Hamburger is the real name of the icon. Who Designed the Hamburger Icon?

Internet Explorer

Let me start by saying that I am not a fan of Internet Explorer and that I recommend you try installing Firefox or Chrome.

While you are installing the search engines keep an eye out for a pop up message in the center of your screen OR at the bottom of the Internet Explorer window. If you see the message warning you about scripts or ActiveX controls you will need to allow the action in order to be able to install the search engines. When Internet Explorer displays the message it cancels the activity that caused the message to appear. So you will have to click the OK button and then do the same step again. This time Internet Explorer will allow the action to occur.

  1. Click on one of these two links:
    Add Brownells Search Provider
    Add MidwayUSA Search Provider

  2. Click on the Add button in the Add Search Provider box.
  3. Repeat steps one and two for the other search engine.

Your Done.

In the address bar (where you would normally type a website address like www.gunsmithinfo.com) you will see a small magnifying glass with a drop down arrow. If you click on the drop down arrow you will see a list of items and at the bottom will be small icons for the each of the search engines you have installed. Click on the icon for the website you want to search and then type in your search text in the address bar and hit enter.

If you want to delete the search engines you can do so by clicking on the gear icon in the upper right corner and then choose Internet Options. From the Internet Options window click on the Programs tab and then click on the Manage add-ons button. On the left hand side click on the Search Providers option to see the list of installed Search engines. You can then click on one of the installed search providers and click on the Remove button.

(Really, go check out Firefox or Chrome you wont regret it.)

Leave a comment if you would like to see this done for any other gunsmithing websites. I will look into creating more of them if there is a demand.

If you are interested in the technical aspects of how this works you can check out the following links:
OpenSearch on Wikipedia
OpenSearch.org

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