Contextual Search with Firefox

Found something on a web page you’d like more information about? A nifty plugin for Firefox lets you highlight text and search using any of Firefox’s built-in search engines with a simple right click of your mouse.

I’ve written before about the excellent native search capabilities offered by the Firefox browser, and how you can easily add your own favorite engines via plugins that install in seconds.

This makes it easy to type a query into the Firefox search box and run it on your engine of choice from any page on the web. For longer or difficult to spell queries, you need to cut and paste your query into the box, then select the appropriate engine for your needs.

You can speed things up for these types of queries by using Firefox’s built-in contextual search function that lets you highlight words on a page and run a Google search on those terms by right clicking your mouse and selecting the “search web for” menu item. This contextual search feature is great, but you’re limited to Google results.

ConQuery is a simple tool that enables a contextual search function for all of your Firefox search plugins. ConQuery adds a “Query to…” menu item to the right click context menu. To use it, simply highlight text on a web page, right click and select “Query to…” and choose any of the Firefox search plugins you’ve installed.

Even better, you can customize ConQuery, in a number of ways. To customize, right click and select “Query to…” just as if you were performing a search. Then, instead of selecting a search source, double-click the “Query to…” selection with the left mouse button.

This brings up a dialog box with several options. Have some search sites you know you’ll never use from a contextual search? Use the check box to de-select it from your ConQuery list. You can also change your preferences to change how results are displayed (in a new tab or window, for instance), or change the appearance of ConQuery itself.

One of ConQuery’s coolest features lets you install ConQuery specific search plugins that are smart about what you’re looking for. For example, the ISBN book lookup plugin only appears in your context menu if the highlighted text appears to be an ISBN number. Whois lookup services only appear if you’re searching for an IP address, and so on.

Other ConQuery specific plugins include dictionary lookups, computer programming references, advanced Google search and a number of others.

As with most Firefox search plugins, the price is right (free), and if you don’t like ConQuery it’s very easy to remove—just follow the instructions on the Firefox uninstall search plugins FAQ.

Search Headlines

NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication’s search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.

German publishers’ Google challenge
International Herald Tribune Jun 5 2005 4:36PM GMT
Web Search: U.S. Web Giants Target China
Business Week Jun 5 2005 2:04PM GMT
Uneasy Rider
Newsweek Jun 5 2005 1:07PM GMT
A tidy option for data pack rats
CNET Jun 5 2005 1:04PM GMT
Cool New Link Measurement Tools from PubSub
Micropersuasion Jun 4 2005 10:53PM GMT
Grokking PubSub and Data Lock In
Searchblog Jun 4 2005 10:43PM GMT
Little search engine that could
USA Today Jun 4 2005 4:26PM GMT
Sense Engine Moves Search Forward
New Media Knowledge Jun 4 2005 12:57PM GMT
One Google too far
Netimperative Jun 3 2005 12:47PM GMT
A Portal to AOL’s Future?
New York Times Jun 3 2005 12:46PM GMT
Yahoo Serious About Employee Blogging
Internet News Jun 3 2005 12:45PM GMT
Google’s long memory stirs privacy concerns
Reuters Jun 3 2005 12:33PM GMT
Forbes Adds IT Vertical Search
Media Post Jun 3 2005 12:30PM GMT
New ‘Google Sitemaps’ Web Page Feed Program
Search Engine Watch Jun 3 2005 12:19AM GMT
Can We Stop Zabasearch — and Similar Personal Information Search Engines?
Modern Practice Jun 2 2005 10:27PM GMT

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