Google Chrome is a web browser, and like any web browser, it has an address bar at the top where you can see the URL of the page you are on (the address of the website). However, this address bar does a lot more than just that. In fact, it is so functional that Google have given it its own name – welcome to the “Omnibox”.
In this blog post we look at some of the most useful, time-savings things you can do with the Omnibox.
If you want to search the web, there is no need to actually go to a search engine, as the Omnibox acts as a Google search box. Just type in the search terms and off you go. If you want to search using a different search engine, without first going to that search engine's main page, see our final tip below!
Drag and drop key words
If you see a word on a web page that you would like to use as a search term for a new Google search, simply highlight the word where it appears on the page and then drag it into the Omnibox. You can then perform a Google search with the word you dragged as the search term.
It's a calculator
You can type calculations directly into the Omnibox and as you type the = sign, the answer should be displayed as a drop-down. E.g. type 123x12= and see the answer displayed below. Press enter on your keyboard and the answer will be displayed in the search results, within an online calculator. To launch this browser-based calculator without using a calculation, simply type calc into the Omnibox.
To quickly convert units, just type what you want into the Omnibox using this format: [number and unit you have] = [unit you want to convert to]. E.g. type 75f=c to convert 75 degrees Fahrenheit to Celsius. The answer will be displayed as a drop-down beneath the Omnibox. Press enter on your keyboard to open the full unit converter tool. If you want to open the tool straight away, just type unitconvert into the Omnibox.
It’s a timer
If you want to set up a quick timer for a class activity, all you need to do is type [timer] [the time period you want]. E.g Timer 1m will set a countdown timer for one minute. An alarm will sound when the time runs out, which can be silenced from the timer tool that will have opened in Chrome. You can use the same tool as a stopwatch, or simply type stopwatch in the Omnibox to launch this tool.
It's a dictionary
Simply type [define] [the word you want defined] into the Omnibox to launch an online dictionary and display the particular definition in the browser.
Search other sites and set up shortcuts
If you want to search a different search engine or site without first navigating to that engine’s search page, it can be done directly within the Omnibox by using the target search engine’s keyword, followed by the search terms you want. For example, if you wanted to search Google Maps for Stonehenge, you could type maps.google.co.uk and then press space, before typing Stonehenge into the Omnibox. To speed up this process you can edit the keyword that tells Chrome to search Google Maps (in this example.)
To do this, follow these step:.
- Right-click in the Omnibox and choose Edit search engines.
- Navigate to the engine in question, click on the 3 dots to the right and choose Edit.
- Under Keyword, change the default keyword to the one you want. E.g. for Maps.google.co.uk you could change the keyword to just maps.
- Click Save
Having done this, you can now type maps Stonehenge into the Omnibox to launch and search Google Maps.
With a bit of practice and exploration, the Omnibox can become a useful time-saving tool that both teachers and students/pupils can use in the classroom and beyond on Chromebooks, iPads, Windows computers and other devices running the Chrome browser.