Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Use Chrome’s search engine keywords in clinical practice

The Google Chrome browser’s search engine keywords feature is a hidden gem that makes searching information more efficient. I use it all the time in clinical practice, academic training, and at home. See how easy it is to search a specific website, for example UpToDate:

Use cases

Any set of characters can serve as an alias for a search engine url. I set u to be the keyword for UpToDate. Searching is as easy as typing u [space] [term] [enter].

Other keywords I have set up:

  • y for Youtube
  • i for Google Images
  • p for Pubmed
  • w for Wikipedia

Examples of my use cases include quickly showing a patient a diagram of spinal anatomy to explain their symptoms, referring to guidelines when making clinical decisions, literature searches, and relevant videos to show residents and medical students during rounds.

Set it up

Any website will work if it supports search via its URL. The simplest way to get this working is as follows:

  1. Make Chrome recognize the search engine by going to the website as usual, and search for something.
  2. Open Chrome’s search engine settings directly via the url chrome://settings/searchEngines or find it as “Preferences” in the menu bar, or type ⌘+, in macOS.
  3. Use the filter box in the top right to locate a site in the list, such as Google Images.
  4. Click the three dots detail button on the right and choose Edit.
  5. Set the keyword to whatever letter (or letters) you want. Save.

Manual additions

If the website search engine is not recognized by Chrome, you can add the search URL manually, and use %s where the search term should be.

Addendum: For example, to search prescription formulations and prices with goodrx searching, click the “Add” button and set the url to be https://goodrx.com/%s.

Adding a search engine manually

I hope this tip helps save a few keystrokes during the day!

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George Marzloff

George Marzloff

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Physician in Spinal Cord Injury & Physical Medicine and Rehab @ Rocky Mountain Regional VAMC, Colorado. Interests: Rehab Engineering & software development