Use Custom Search Engines Way More

What’s you favorite search engine? Do you live in the privacy-side of the web and choose DuckDuckGo, Kagi, or Brave Search? Are you chasing search points over at Bing? YOLO and just Google it?

Regardless of how you search, I’ve got a quick tip that’ll make you more productive on the web and preserve some privacy as a nice side benefit.

Here’s how I started this essay.

I was looking for a fun hero image to get my mind rolling and make this essay more fun: u search

What the heck is the u? It’s Unsplash, a lovely free and attribution optional stock image site.

Many of the proper browsers let you enter custom search engines. My mental picture of these had basically been alternatives to Google and Bing such as Kagi. But I realized that almost any website that lets you search it, can be a custom search engine.

Adding sites you often search lets you skip the step of either navigating there or searching your main search engine and then navigating around there for results on that site.

So many niche “search engines”

Here’s what I’m using that might inspire you:

  • GitHub - search Github repositories directly by using the prefix gh
  • Wikipedia - all of Wikipedia with the prefix w
  • YouTube - Search for videos directly on YouTube with y
  • PyPI - Find Python packages with pypi prefix
  • FontAwesome - Just the right “font as an icon” for my web design with fa
  • LinkedIn - Find that contact with l
  • Unsplash - Get a sweet stock photo with u
  • StackOverflow - Still good for programming help, use so

In Vivaldi, we just go to Search > + and enter a name, search URL with %s for the search term (e.g., and a prefix to use when searching from the address bar (e.g. so). Chrome, Firefox, and others have similar features.

If you can find a URL on the site you care about that roughly matches that URL for StackOverflow, you can add it as a search engine.

Now when I’m looking for a new Python package, I start my search wtih pypi term I hope this has inspired you.