The Browsing Combo

I've been using Firefox for years, and for years I wouldn't have expected my browsing experience to improve drastically. Recently, though, it did. That was when I was shown two extensions: Vimperator and DuckDuckGo.

Vimperator

Using Vimperator follows from my switch to Vim, that happened approximately at the same time. In my everyday use, it makes many common browsing actions accessible within a single keystroke:

  • t: open new tab
  • d: close current tab
  • o: open new address in current tab
  • y: copy current tab's URL to clipboard
  • f: follow a link in current tab (highlights and numbers all links; to select one, either type its number or any part of its text)
  • /: search within current tab

There was, of course, a bit of learning to undergo before I got used to these new shortcuts; but not that much. And using only your keyboard for web browsing is highly gratifying (or, to state it the other way round: having to reach for the mouse is so cumbersome...)

DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo combines wonderfully with <em>Vimperator</em> through its !bang syntax: when set as the default search engine, it enables you to access a variety of services through short keywords. For example, these ones that are used pretty often:

  • !b: Bing
  • !d: dictionary
  • !g: Google
  • !i: (Google) Image search
  • !m: (Google) Maps
  • !yt: YouTube
  • !w: Wikipedia

And some others that I find useful too (the complete list is here):

  • !amazon: Amazon
  • !news: Google News
  • !python: Python documentation
  • !scholar: Google Scholar (for research papers)
  • !translate: Google Translate
  • !wfr: French Wikipedia
  • !wikt: Wiktionary

So, using both of these tools, here are a few concrete examples:

  • t !m starbucks near eiffel tower paris
  • o !translate ich bin ein berliner
  • o !yt gangnam style

"Efficiency" is not the only thing that matters in our usage of computer devices. The ability of a tool to satisfy (gratify?) you and help you develop new usages, usages you may not have thought of when you started using the tool, is also very important. Here, I enjoy the way these two tools combine together (not to mention they are also free and ad-free), and the set of features they offer leaves plenty of new usages/combinations to discover ;)

Update: as a savvy reader pointed out, Pentadactyl is a fork from Vimperator that is more frequently updated and maintained by (former) primary Vimperator developers.

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