Shortwave: a handy quick-search “utility”

I ran across Shortwave about a week ago and have been debating with myself ever since then how I am going to write about it. Is it bookmark or is it a plugin? What should I call it? How do I explain what it does? If I say bookmark will anyone read the post? Blah blah – the left side of my brain has been at war with the right side of my brain over how to spill the news (I banned the use of biological warfare seeing as it may leave lasting damage to my skull). Eventually I figured WHAT THE HECK – I will just write whatever comes to mind… hence why the first 10 sentences of this post make no sense what-so-ever. Anyway, I think I better start explaining what Shortwave is before everyone thinks I am nuts.

Shortwave is a handy quick-search “utility” (yes I know I just repeated the title of this post; I did it for emphasis). What Shortwave does is it allows you to use short triggers to initiate different types of searches (i.e. search Google, search Wikipedia, search YouTube, etc. – more on this later). I put utility in quotes because is not a traditional utility – Shortwave is actually just a bookmark. It is not a plugin or an addon or a program – it is literally just a bookmark (and/or favorite depending on which browser you use). What happens is you add Shortwave to your bookmarks/favorites bar and click on the bookmark/favorite whenever you want to initiate Shortwave. When you click on the Shortwave bookmark/favorite a little box pops up where you must type in a trigger (i.e “g” for Google – without the quotes) and type in your search query after the trigger (if applicable). Then when you hit “OK” the search you designated will be initiated. Confused yet? Don’t worry – it is a little confusing. Let me explain with a few screenshots:




Is that more clear? A picture truly is worth a million dollars.

Shortwave works with more than just Google. By default it comes with all the following triggers:


What makes it better is that you can add your own custom triggers. For example I added:


As mentioned above, Shortwave is just a bookmark. In other words, there is no installation and it works with all browsers. However Shortwave uses JavaScript so you do have to have JavaScript enabled to use it (if you have JavaScript disabled you seriously are missing out on life).

Although I have focused on the quick-search abilities of Shortwave, you may notice that there are non-search related triggers such as Google maps, Google translate, ip, and whois. Shortwave is not limited to just search related triggers – it can also be used for many other things (such as quick shortcuts).

To get Shortwave all you have to do is visit and drag 2009-05-14_141519 to your bookmarks/favorites bar. After you have Shortwave added to your bookmarks/favorites you can use all the default triggers. However if you would like to have custom triggers (along with the default triggers) you need to do a couple of extra steps:

  1. Create a .TXT file and enter all the custom triggers you desire; you can update the .TXT file whenever you want to add/remove triggers. To learn more about how to create custom triggers in the .TXT file please review this.
  2. Upload the .TXT file to somewhere on the internet where it is accessible by everyone. For example you could upload it to your website like I uploaded to dotTech.
  3. Visit Scroll down to where you see a text box:


Enter the URL to the .TXT file you uploaded and then drag 2009-05-14_141519 to your bookmarks/favorites bar.

If you ever forget what your custom triggers are, just type “help” (without quotes) at the Shortwave pop-up box and all your custom triggers (along with the default triggers) will be listed. If you use multiple computers/browsers you can use the same .TXT file for each computer/browser. If at any time you decide you no longer want to use Shortwave, just remove Shortwave from your bookmarks/favorites and you are done with it. Simple and clean.

Last thing I would like to note: I have decided that I will maintain a dotTech community Shortwave custom triggers file. What I mean is I am hosting a custom triggers file on dotTech and will add custom triggers via popular demand. Anyone and everyone is welcome to use it. To use the dotTech custom triggers file, just type in in the text box for custom trigger files:


As mentioned above, currently I have custom triggers for dotTech, LifeHacker, Digg, and Raymond’s. If you would like me to add a custom trigger for a specific website just post below. To keep track of all custom triggers I add, occasionally type in “help” (without quotes) at the pop-up box.



Current list of custom triggers:

dt      Search
lh     Search
ray     Search
digg     Search
del     Search Del.ic.ious
def     Define a word (
tu     Create TinyURL (Do not enter http://)

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  • I like YubNub. You can create your own commands with it, although I hardly ever need to because I can do “ls [websitename]” for every website I stumble across and a keyword is already made for me.

    I use the about:config keyword.URL method so I don’t need a plugin to use YubNub in Firefox. I also have it configured in Opera and SRWare Iron.

  • Jean-Luc Picard

    @Ashraf: Thank you. Now all I need to do is remember to log in, or click that remember me button.

  • Ashraf

    @Jean-Luc Picard: I will look into allowing imgs in comments.

  • Jean-Luc Picard

    OK. I see what you mean now! But I think I’ll stay with my bookmarklets. Enjoy keywordsearching for many years to come!

    On (yet) another note, can we have the IMG tag enabled?

  • Ashraf

    @Jean-Luc Picard: But Shortwave is cool. So I win.

    On a serious note, now I get what you mean. Yes it is more or less the same thing except with four differences:
    1) Shortwave you can use on all browsers so if you use multiple browsers and/or don’t use Firefox Shortwave will be the better way to go;
    2) Shortwave you can use on different computers so if you use multiple computers Shortwave will be superior than adding FF bookmarks on each individual computer;
    3) You only need to add one bookmark for Shortwave as opposed to infinite;
    4) You let Ashraf setup the triggers for you and you don’t have to do any work.

  • Jean-Luc Picard

    @J. L.: No no no, not a search bar engine! (Though you can do that, too)
    @Ashraf: No no no, not an extension!

    What I mean is a bookmark, for instance:
    My bookmarks folder can look like this.
    Click here.
    And I can make a folder for them (here, Searches) and make a name for them (Wikipedia, kdfsdsafjklsajd, y, or anything else).
    Here’s a tutorial (it’s hard w/o pictures!):
    1. Go to
    2. Right click on the search box.
    3. Click on “Add a keyword for this search.
    Picture 1
    4. Select a name and keyword, and optionally a location.
    Picture 2
    5. Click “Add”.
    6. Type the new keyword into the address bar followed by any text and it will do a search for that!
    Picture 3

  • J. L.

    @Ashraf: It sure can do other websites, here’s a site that specializes in them:
    If you’re truly serious and want to utilize any search engine, try Add to Search Bar (

  • Ashraf

    @Jean-Luc Picard: As far as I know you would have to install an addon for every search engine you want (aside from the popular ones already installed) but yes I think it has something similar. Not sure if it can do other websites though like (which btw I just added).

  • Jean-Luc Picard

    Is it just me or does Firefox have this built into the address bar? I can right click on the Google Search box and click “add keyword for this search” and type in a keyword (in this case “g”) and now I can enter g dottech into the address bar and it will lead me to

  • Ashraf

    @Shava Nerad: I disagree that Yubnub is better – it is just more popular. Sure Yubnub has more triggers but Shortwave is a lot easier to add/remove to/from browsers. Just add the triggers you want to Shortwave and SW is much better in my opinion.

  • I don’t think you’re nuts and this is a good review. I remember in the 1960s when kids were going around with the ubiquitous question, “Where’s it at?” I knew where it was “at”, but I dinna know what it was. I still don’t, but it doesn’t seem to matter anymore.

    Since I do many genealogical searches on the Internet daily, I’ll give this bookmark a try.

    Happy Dae·

  • Shava Nerad

    Have you seen It’s a lot more capable compared to shortwave, and it even comes with an explanation of what it does that you might be able to crib, more productively, for shortwave! :) But it really is much better.

    I’ve enjoyed your site, found you through your always astute reviews for Giveaway of the Day.