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.


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 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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