Instant seems to be a new buzzword. It began with the release of Google Instant which added automatically updating search results pages to the Google Search engine.
InstantFox brings the concept to the Firefox web browser, albeit with some differences and interesting outlook for the future.
The extension configures several search engines and options with keywords in the browser during installation.
Keywords? Keywords are a native feature of Firefox (and other browsers like Opera) that can be used to add hotkeys to bookmarks. The bookmarks can then be opened in Firefox by entering the keyword in the address bar which saves some typing. Keywords can be combined with search engines to speed up searches, more about that later.
The InstantFox add-on adds the following keywords to the web browser:
You can enter keyword search phrase to search the selected search engine automatically. The phrase b ghacks would search the Bing search engine for Ghacks, i Japan Earthquake would search Google Images for images of the Japanese earthquake.
The results listing is updated as you type, which explains the Instant in the name of the add-on.
Experienced Firefox users may have noticed that the core functionality sans the instant updating is built-in natively in the web browser. Users who do not want to use instant may want to take a closer look at our guide Search And Access Sites Faster With Keywords which explains how to add search engines and keywords to Firefox.
Back to the InstantFox add-on. The add-on is not offering many advantages over manually adding keywords and search engines as of now. The two advantages are that it adds the search engines and keywords automatically, and that the search results are instantly updating whenever a change is made to the search phrase.
The developers of the extension plan to add features to the add-on that could make it more interesting for skeptical users. Beta users of the add-on are already able to use a built-in auto suggest option which suggests keywords based on the user's input in the address bar.
Another planned addition is the ability to add custom search engines and keywords to the add-on which can then be used like all the others.
You can check out the Mozilla add-on repository if you want to give InstantFox a try. The extension is compatible with all versions of the Firefox web browser.
A word of warning: I have run into a bug after installing the extension that displayed a single web address in the address bar, regardless of the website and tab that was active. (via Caschy)
Update: Instantfox has been improved a lot since our initial review of the extension. It offers options to edit shortcuts now, supports all installed search plugins by default so that you can use it with any search engine that you have added to Firefox, and can override the behavior for some search engines.
You will also find styling options in the preferences as well as settings that modify specific features such as where searches are opened or if enter loads results automatically when you tap on the key.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.