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How to Search Multiple Websites With a Single Keystroke

September 11, 2008

Why go to different websites when you can search all the ones you are interested in the most at the same time from a single data-entry form? Type once and search everywhere :)

To search a website you can type URL in your browser addressbar, then type your query. A faster method is to select a search engine of interest from a search box in Firefox. Another alternative is to use launching program such as Launchy or Executor. However, all these methods have a limitation: they can’t search multiple websites at the same time from a single independent form. To overcome this problem, we need a magical solution called AutoHotKey. It is a really wonderful program with some fun scripting options than can significantly improve your efficiency.

AutoHotkey is a free, open-source utility for Windows. With it, you can:

  • Automate almost anything by sending keystrokes and mouse clicks. You can write a mouse or keyboard macro by hand or use the macro recorder.
  • Create hotkeys for keyboard, joystick, and mouse. Virtually any key, button, or combination can become a hotkey.
  • Expand abbreviations as you type them. For example, typing “btw” can automatically produce “by the way”.
  • Create custom data-entry forms, user interfaces, and menu bars. See GUI for details.
  • Remap keys and buttons on your keyboard, joystick, and mouse.
  • Respond to signals from hand-held remote controls via the WinLIRC client script.
  • Run existing AutoIt v2 scripts and enhance them with new capabilities.
  • Convert any script into an EXE file that can be run on computers that don’t have AutoHotkey installed.

Now, let’s say you want to search for videos. Here is a simple script that will open Veoh, Google Video, YouTube, and DailyMotion in a separate tabs. I’ll show you the script and tell you how you can extend it. Warning: I wrote this script within the first few minutes I downloaded the program, so there might be better ways to do it, but it works for me :P

Paste this script into your AutoHotKey file and save. To activate the search press Win + X key. Note, your browser should be open already. Probably, it is possible to do it “cold” way, even without starting the browser, but then the timing should be adjusted.

#x::
InputBox, UserInput, Search Videos, , , 400, 100
if ErrorLevel
MsgBox, CANCEL was pressed.
else
Run http://www.veoh.com/search.html?type=&searchId=4992119715241010176&search=%UserInput%
Sleep, 500
Send ^t &&
Run http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=%UserInput%
Sleep, 500
Send ^t &&
Run http://www.youtube.com/results.php?search_query=%UserInput%
Sleep, 500
Send ^t &&
Run http://www.dailymotion.com/visited/search/%UserInput%/1

Let’s briefly look at individual parts of the code.

#x::
# – Windows key
x – x key
You can change it to other keys if you want

InputBox, UserInput, Search Videos, , , 400, 100

This is the code for the custom entry form titled “Search Videos” with 400×100 dimensions.

if ErrorLevel
MsgBox, CANCEL was pressed.
else

This pops up a message if you press cancel. Now to the main part of the code.

Run http://www.veoh.com/search.html?type=&searchId=4992119715241010176&search=%UserInput%

It consists of two parts: Run and URL. How to get this crazy URL? Go to the website you want to search, enter any search term, copy and paste the URL. Note the %UserInput% variable – this is your search term. You should replace the search term you used with %UserInput%, otherwise you’ll always get the same result.

Sleep, 500

This line tells the browser to chill (1000 = 1 second) because without such a break it would open everything in one tab or open only some websites.

Send ^t &&

^ – ALT
t – t key
&& – this means to wait until the command is finished before proceeding.

Now you can modify and extend this script to suit your needs :)

However, if do not like this method, there are other options.

Custom Search Websites:

http://rollyo.com/
Rollyo offers the ability to search the content of a list of specified websites, allowing you to narrow down the results to pages from websites that you already know and trust.”
– BBC World

http://www.buildasearch.com/
Build your own: search engine, single site or multiple site search in less than 5 minutes. No Programming Required. Easy as 1-2-3. Zero Downloads. Fully-Customizable via a home-made recipe. Name your search after your fluffy dog or cat. Color your search like the sea or dark as night. Do not be scared! We took care of all the scary looking code.

Perhaps, those websites don’t satisfy you also. Then take a look at the pretty visual search engines :)

http://www.viewzi.com/
“Viewzi is a new and highly visual way to search that brings all your favorite stuff together in one place. Oh, and it’s bolder, richer, and more fun.”

http://www.searchme.com/
Find. Organize. Share. One of Time magazine’s best websites of 2008.

Have fun and don’t hesitate to ask questions or offer suggestions on alternative ways to accomplish the multiple website search task :)

Sources:

- 3 Unique Search Engines of the Future (ReadWriteWeb)
- Buildasearch Combines Multiple Site Seaches into One Box (Lifehacker)

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13 comments

  1. [...] How to Search Multiple Websites With a Single Keystroke [...]


  2. This is AWESOME but Im trying to figure out how to make input boxes and submit search for multiple airfare sites u know.. Please email me info :) HELP WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED!


    • Sorry, I don’t know how to do that.


  3. Thanks so much. This really helped me out. It was the only solution I could find to searching multiple sites in separate tabs simultaneously.
    :)


    • You are welcome! I am glad it was helpful for you :)


  4. nice tips man


  5. Thanks for the links. I have been trying to find a way to search a few sites at once and have relevant, mixed results show up.

    After going through your links (I wasn’t interested in the desktop software) I chose X to search youtube and soundcloud at the same time. Rollyo was the best of the three, but I really didn’t like the results. Wasn’t very accurate in its results.

    Are there any newer “make your own” search sites that work better?


    • I have not found any new ones – sorry.


  6. Thank you so much! I have been looking to search multiple websites at the same time. Your article is extremely helpful…keep up the good work!


  7. I did this with chrome and it opened an extra tab every search.
    The line
    “Send ^t &&”
    was redundant, I guess. Anyway, that’s just a heads up.


  8. ooo, ye! a dream come true! thanks!


  9. Great suggestion and easy to follow. It works like a charm (plus the comments from Serg about Chrome not needing the “Send ^t &&” line. Thank you Foxy!


    • You are welcome :)



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