How to find the search query URL for search engines

We did a brief post on how you can set the default search engine in Chrome. It’s a fairly simple process but if you’re interested in using a search engine that isn’t one of the four Chrome supports by default i.e. Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Ask Jeeves, you will need to find the search query URL for the search engine you want to use.

This isn’t too hard to find; a simple Google search will turn up results but in many cases, you will get varying URLs and you will have to try them all to figure out which one actually works. To simplify things, you can use a little trick to get the correct search query URL for search engines and literally any website.

Search query URL

In order to find the search query URL for a search engine or for a website you visit and search often, you need to use Firefox.

Open Firefox and navigate to the website or the search engine that you want to use. For example, let’s say you want to use Bing.

On the Bing home page, right-click inside the search bar and from the context menu select, the ‘Add a Keyword for this Search’ option.

You will see the following window. In this window, enter a shortcut for calling the search engine. It doesn’t matter what you use just so long as you remember what you’re using. Click Save and then close the tab.

Open a new tab and in the URL bar, enter the keyword that you set for the search engine. When you see it in the suggested results, click it. Ignore the page that you get and simply copy the URL in the URL bar. This is the search query URL that you need in order to add Bing as a search engine in a browser.

https://www.bing.com/search?q=%s&qs=ds&form=QBLH

You can repeat this process for any website so long as the website has a search feature on it. If a website doesn’t have a search feature, this trick won’t work. That’s not to say that you cannot add the website as a search engine, just that it will take more work figuring out which URL to use.

The URL should work in any and all browsers though the method for setting the default search engine varies from browser to browser. If your browser of choice lets you pick search engines from a list, you can pick your preferred search engine from the list if it’s there. If it isn’t, check how you can add a custom search engine to the list and use this same method for the search URL.

Read How to find the search query URL for search engines by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to change the default search engine in Chrome

Google is the default search engine in Chrome and because it is the most popular search engine today, not many people are interested in changing it. That said, Chrome doesn’t tie you down to its default search engine and you’re free to pick whichever one you want to use. If you’re search engine has been changed by an extension, or an app on your system, you can change that as well. Here’s how.

Chrome Default Search Engine

There are two ways to change the default search in Chrome. You can change it by visiting the home page for the search engine, or you can change it from Chrome’s own settings.

Search Engine home page

Search engines compete with each other for users. When a search engine detects that it is not the default one in your browser, it gives you a one-click button to set it as the default search engine.

Take bing for example. If you visit this bing page you will see a button that allows you to set it as the default search engine. You will need to install an app to get the job done and that may not be something you’re comfortable with. Additionally, not all search engines offer a similar option which is why you should know how you can change the search engine from Chrome’s settings.

Chrome settings

Open Chrome and click the more options button at the top right. From the menu that opens, select ‘Settings’. On the Settings page, scroll down to the Search Engine section.

You may already have a bunch of search engines added if you frequently search a particular website for something. Open the ‘Search engine used in the address bar’ dropdown and view the already added search engines. If you see the one you want to use, select it.

If you do not see the search engine you want to use, click Manage Search engines.

Before you can add a search engine, you need the correct search query URL for it. You can look it up with Google, or most other search engines. For example, for DuckDuckGo, you need to enter;

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=%s&atb=v81-4__

On the Manage search engines page, click Add, and enter the URL in the query field. Give the search engine a name and a keyword. Click save. Next, click the more options button next to the newly added search engine, and select Make default.

Malicious extensions and apps

Chrome is proactive with respect to extensions changing default settings in the browser. It will alert you when an extension has changed your default search engine however, if you’re unable to change it back try the following;

  1. Uninstall the extension, or desktop app, that’s forcing the change. Chrome can boot extensions that are malicious but desktop apps can and do change the default search engine and browsers don’t have much control over them. Once you’ve removed the app/extension, you should be able to set the default search engine in Chrome to whatever you want.
  2. You can reset Chrome to get rid of malicious extensions that have taken control of the browsers. In this case, you do not want to back up and restore your Chrome profile folder as that too may be infected. To reset Chrome, open the Browser and click the more options button. Select Settings from the menu, scroll down the settings page, and click Advanced. Scroll to the very end, and click Clean Up Computer. After the clean up is complete, return to this same settings’ area and click Restore settings to their original defaults.

If you’re still unable to get rid of a malicious extension or app, use an anti-virus to scan your system and remove it.

Read How to change the default search engine in Chrome by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to control media in Chrome from Bluetooth headphones

Bluetooth has been around for a long time. When feature phones were still a thing, Bluetooth was used as a medium to send/receive files wirelessly. Now, Bluetooth is more commonly used to connect peripherals like keyboards, mouse, speakers, and headphones. Bluetooth headphones and even some speakers allow you to control media that’s playing. Unfortunately, these controls don’t always work. If you listen to music or watch Netflix on Chrome, your Bluetooth headphones or speakers may not be able to play/pause the player. Here’s how you can control media in Chrome from Bluetooth headphones and/or speakers.

Chrome & Bluetooth headphones

Before we start, get a few basic things out of the way.

Basic checks

First, make sure you know which button on your Bluetooth device will play/pause media, and which will manage the volume.

Second, connect your Bluetooth headphones to a phone first and check if all the controls are working. Smartphones work exponentially better with Bluetooth devices and likewise, Bluetooth devices tend to play better with smartphones.

Last, and this one is a bit obvious, make sure your device is charged, Bluetooth is enabled/turned on on your system, and the device is properly connected.

Control media in Chrome

Out of the box, Chrome will not work with your Bluetooth headphones’ controls. If you’re watching media in Chrome, the sound will transmit but even with that, the quality may not be the same as it is when you play local content from a desktop player.

To control media in Chrome from Bluetooth headphones or speakers, install the Streamkeys extension from the Chrome web store. Once the extension has been installed, open a new tab and visit YouTube, Netflix, Vimeo, or any other website where you watch media. Play something and use your Bluetooth headphones’ media control buttons to play/pause the player.

The extension doesn’t need to be configured, just installed. You will not be able to manage the volume of the player in Chrome. The volume buttons on your headphones will change the system volume and there is no way to change that. The OS takes precedence over apps in situations like this.

Streamkeys is a feature rich extension. You can use it to set website priority when controlling playback.

In addition to controlling media in Chrome via Bluetooth headphone and speakers, the extension can also add extensive keyboard shortcut support. A lot of the options are geared towards YouTube however, you will find they work with other websites as well.

Read How to control media in Chrome from Bluetooth headphones by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to disable image compression on Twitter

Twitter isn’t a photo sharing platform. It has been slow to develop its photo sharing feature and like many social media apps, it compresses images. Images are converted to JPEG which is a lossy format. It’s not the format you want to use for HD images. If you do need to upload a good quality image on Twitter, there’s a little trick you can use to disable image compression on Twitter.

Twitter will apply compression to an image unless it has transparency. This is a problem if your image doesn’t need to be transparent but if it has just one transparent pixel, it’s enough to disable image compression on Twitter.

Image compression on Twitter

There are two ways to disable image compression on Twitter. You can use an image editor to add a one pixel line to the top of your image. Do not fill it with anything i.e., no color, nothing. Make sure you save it with the PNG file format.

If this is tedious for you, or you don’t have an image editor that can do the job (both GIMP and Paint.Net work though), you can use a web app called Twitter image-compression preventer.

Visit the web app and drag & drop the image you want to share on Twitter on to the app. It will add the empty pixel and save the image. If you want, you can enable the ‘Display the fixed image instead of saving it’ option and the edited image will be displayed in your browser.

The image is saved with the PNG format and it won’t be compressed. You can expect the quality of the image to be preserved after the app converts it.

The reason PNG and the transparent pixel forces Twitter to not use JPEG is that JPEG as an image format doesn’t support transparency. If it detects that users want to share an image with transparency in it, no matter how small the transparent portion is, it will have to use a format that can accurately display it.

If you’re on your phone, and a vast majority of Twitter users do tweet from their phones, you can use this app from your phone as well. To upload an image, tap and hold on the Upload area until a menu appears asking you to select an image from your camera roll. Select it and select an image from your camera roll to upload. It’s not built for smartphones though so it’s going to take a few attempts to get the image.

Read How to disable image compression on Twitter by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to disable the Downloads bar in Chrome

When you download files in Chrome, a bar appears at the bottom of the window. It shows the file that’s downloading and its download progress. You can close this bar by clicking the close button at the right corner. It won’t impact the download. The file will continue to download and you can open the Downloads page in Chrome (Ctrl+J) to view download progress. If the bar bothers you and you don’t want to close it each time you download a file, you can disable the Downloads bar in Chrome with an extension.

Disable the Downloads bar

In order to disable the Downloads bar in Chrome, you need to install the Always Clear Downloads extension. This extension can do two things; it can clear your Downloads list, and it can hide the Downloads bar. If you don’t want the Downloads list to be cleared, you should change its setting first.

To stop the extension from clearing downloads, uncheck the ‘Clear downloads every few seconds’ option. To hide the Downloads bar, enable the ‘Disable download shelf option’.

That’s really all you need to do. The next time you download a file, you will no longer see the downloads bar. The download will start normally, and you will still see the green progress indicator on the Chrome taskbar icon.

If you want the extension to also clear your downloads, you should enable the ‘Clear downloads every few seconds’ option and specify how often the downloads are cleared. By default, the extension clears downloads every ten seconds. This might be too often but you can change it. Unfortunately, you can only specify the time in seconds so if you want the downloads to clear after every 24 hours, you’re going to have to enter 86,400. To clear them weekly, the number gets bigger, 604800.

A while back, there was a more popular extension for hiding the downloads bar but it has since disappeared from the Chrome web store. The reason is likely that Chrome disabled the API the extension used to hide it. Chrome has undergone quite a design change and it’s likely that during the process, the old extension broke. This one works with the latest version of Chrome. There are others like it but they focus on clearing the Downloads list which, again, Chrome doesn’t let you do by default.

The good thing about this extension though is that it doesn’t force you to also clear downloads. You can use just one feature and leave the other unused.

Read How to disable the Downloads bar in Chrome by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter