When it comes to support for different search engines, it is Firefox that takes the crown. Not only is it the only browser of the big four that features a separate search form natively, it is also giving you great control over the browser's search functionality.
Some browsers make up for that with extensions that you can install to add missing functionality.
One interesting feature that Firefox, Chrome and other browsers support are search aliases. Since you can only set one engine as the default one in your browser, aliases have been introduced to provide you with options to run searches on other engines.
You link a keyword, e.g. sp for Startpage, to a search engine and use that keyword to inform the browser that you want to run a custom search this time.
IE Search Customizer is a free program for Microsoft's Internet Explorer that you can make use of to manage custom search engines in the browser.
The portable program displays all custom search engines on the start page. Click on add to create a new alias for a search engine.
The menu that opens up asks for three values:
- Name - This is a custom name that you can select.
- Alias - You type the alias when you want to search using the search engine. It is best kept short and up to the point.
- Search URL - This one is tricky. The easiest way to get it for most search engines is to run a search for TEST on them, copy and paste the resulting url to the search url field of the IE Search Customizer program, and replace TEST with %s.
Once done click on add new search and the search engine becomes automatically available in Internet Explorer. I suggest you try it out right away to make sure that it is working properly. You can go back and click on edit to make changes to it if it is not working properly.
To use one of the custom search engines in Internet Explorer type the alias, then space followed by the search term.
You can remove select custom engines that you have added again using the same interface, or export the engines to a Registry file which you can run on other Windows devices to add the same engines to it.
The custom search feature should work in all modern versions of Microsoft's browser.
The Registry file
Custom Internet Explorer search engines are managed in the Windows Registry, more precisely under the key:
If the key does not exist create it.
All custom searches come in the form
with "quack" being the custom search alias and the url the search url that Internet Explorer will use when you use it in the browser.