Magic with Chrome’s Omnibar

It’s been a while since I last posted here (2 years!), but I’ve decided to try to post more often. I’ll probably migrate to another platform soon (from WordPress to Jekyll, probably), so that should help a bit.

There’s a “hack” on Chrome that I’ve been using for the last months and that I find amazing: setting Google’s Feeling Lucky search mode as the default search engine on Chrome’s Omnibar. This will also work with any other browser that supports setting a custom search engine (so, almost all of them).

As you will know, the Omnibar (a.k.a. navigation or search bar) allows entering both URLs to websites and search queries. Here’s a neat trick: if the default search engine is Feeling Lucky, when you enter a search term it will redirect you to the most likely answer if it’s confident enough about it, else it will just open the regular Google Search page. Cases where this is amazing: visiting websites without typing the full URL (ok, we already got that from the auto-search in a most visited URLs list), finding answers to questions in i.e. StackOverflow at light speed, pasting titles of academic papers and getting them in PDF directly… you name it!

Here’s how to do it: go to Chrome settings, click on the search engine manager, and edit one of them (why isn’t there an “add” button?) to read:


It’s all about this “btnI” parameter. Name it however you want, and set it as the default search engine. Feels like magic! If you are not using Chrome, you can use:

Now, a last tip: for cases in which you need a full list of options, take your good old Google search engine and set its trigger (the middle column) to something short, like a comma. That way, when you focus the Omnibar (Cmd+L or Ctrl-L), you can trigger a regular Google search by pressing comma and space, followed by the search term. I also have additional shortcuts with mnemonics like v+comma for Youtube videos, m+comma for Google Maps, etc., although I never remember to use them.

Have fun!