Use all of DuckDuckGo's !bang shortcuts in Firefox

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 13, 2022

DuckDuckGo introduced !bang shortcuts very early in its life as a way for users to quickly use other services from the search engine's website. Adding !github, !ghacks or !google in front of a term would redirect the query to the site immediately.

firefox duckduckgo bangs

The HTML bookmarks file bang-bookmarks brings thousands of DuckDuckGo's !bang shortcuts to the Firefox web browser. All it takes is to import the file in Firefox to start using them.

Behind the scenes, bang-bookmarks is using keywords, which Firefox still supports but does not really advertise much. Keywords are mapped to bookmarks so that the bookmarked pages can be opened using the keyword instead of having to type part or all of the bookmarked address. Search engines in Firefox do use keywords, but bookmarks don't by default.

Here is how this works:

  1. Start by downloading the latest bookmarks file from the official GitHub repository. The file is compatible with Firefox bookmarks and includes more than 10,000 entries.
  2. Open the Firefox web browser afterwards and select Menu > Bookmarks > Manage Bookmarks, or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Shift-O instead to open the bookmarks manager.
  3. Once open, select Import and Backup > Import Bookmarks from HTML.
  4. Select the downloaded bookmarks.html file from the local system to have Firefox import it. The process may take several minutes to complete, depending on the device that you are using.

All imported bookmarks are added to Bookmarks Menu > Bang Bookmarks. You can check them there, and remove some that you are not interested in.

Once the bookmarks file has been imported, you can start using the !bang shortcuts in Firefox. Try something like !github powertoys, !ghacks windows 11, or !ytb firefox to redirect search queries to the listed services.

firefox bangs

Tip: open the bookmarks manager in Firefox again and select a bookmark to display its keyword. You may also use the search field to find bookmarks quickly.

Adding the bookmarks and keywords to Firefox bypasses DuckDuckGo and keeps everything local. The downside to adding thousands of bookmarks to Firefox is that you end up with a huge number that you may not need. You could add often used services to the Firefox bookmarks and add keywords for each of them to use them this way. Or, you could import the file and remove any bookmark that you don't require, but that is certainly time consuming.

The importing added several broken bookmarks to the bookmarks of Firefox. Some keywords looked like this !\u03c5\u03c4, and some bookmark names like that 11\ubc88\uac00 Search, which suggests that either the importing ran into issues or that the base file has these issues already.

Now You: do you use keywords in your browser of choice or !bangs on DuckDuckGo?

Use all of DuckDuckGo's !bang shortcuts in Firefox
Article Name
Use all of DuckDuckGo's !bang shortcuts in Firefox
Find out how to import a bookmarks file into the Firefox web browser that adds thousands of DuckDuckGo !bang search options to Mozilla's web browser.
Ghacks Technology News

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  1. Antoine said on September 9, 2022 at 5:09 pm

    Your tutorial is very clear, it works great! Thank you for that! How do you produce the bookmarks file with all the bang shortcuts?

  2. attam80 said on May 30, 2022 at 1:09 am

    To improve on this idea, you can create a bookmark with the following url:!%s
    This will allow you to type !w whatever, directly into the url bar at the top, and should give you access to all active bangs

    1. attam80 said on May 30, 2022 at 1:10 am

      btw, your keyword for this should be !

  3. Oni said on February 21, 2022 at 3:19 pm

    Hi, I was wondering: Does anybody know why DDG browser needs location permissions?? I think I saw this permission when installing on Android. I saw no way to contact DDG to ask. Thanks!

  4. *tobin said on January 14, 2022 at 4:23 am

    Surprised they haven’t stripped out keyword search yet based on some bullshit telemetry report that says that the unwashed masses don’t use them.
    You can directly query your website without using DDG as a proxy.

    1. Anonymous said on January 15, 2022 at 9:04 pm

      The unwashed masses probably haven’t heard of them or if they have, don’t appreciate the convenience of typing ‘!g whatever you want’, ‘!w whatever you want’. I use it frequently for YouTube. “yt whatever’ which saves opening youtube before conducting a search.

      !yt black voice only

  5. Anonymous said on January 13, 2022 at 6:51 pm

    I don’t use bangs or the (default) keywords in (Settings) search shortcuts, but I make extensive use of my own keyword searches. A great idea even if not widely promoted by Moz — couldn’t survive without them ;-)

  6. Croatoan said on January 13, 2022 at 6:15 pm

    I use keyboards in Firefox and in Chrome for searches.
    y for YouTube
    g for Google
    w for Wikipedia
    ii for IMDb
    b for Bing
    rt for RottenTomatoes
    It’s faster to type than to use bang shortcuts.

  7. Shiva said on January 13, 2022 at 4:56 pm

    It’s all about convenience, I suppose.

    I switched to ‘ContextSearch-Web-Ext’ to manage search engines and I use it also as a bookmarks manager (if the search bar is empty the extension opens the address set in the ‘Form Path’). It supports multiple searches, Onmibox keywords or search engine hotkeys instead of opening the menu after you select the text. You need a little time to understand all the options and configure all search engines (including site: search and reverse image search) but it’s worth it.
    Obviously if you don’t like to rely on an extension for web searches it’s always nice to have alternatives.

    “Adding the bookmarks and keywords to Firefox bypasses DuckDuckGo and keeps everything local.”
    I also use ‘Skip redirect’. I don’t know if you can consider it as a similar result, but if for example I search ‘a! PC’ using my default DuckDuckGo search engine I see that the extension works like this:

  8. ULBoom said on January 13, 2022 at 3:37 pm

    I use DDG as my home page and new tab page but not as an extension. I tried bangs a few years ago, didn’t really see a use for them.
    Not sure how this add on works but I hope there’s a way to group and select the ones you want.

  9. Tom Hawack said on January 13, 2022 at 9:56 am

    I use Firefox’s keywords quite extensively (~60), DuckDuckGo is my default search engine but I never use its !bang feature. First because I have no use of them given searches I need on a more or les regular basis all have their keyword protocol installed, secondly because i’m not fond of the idea of whatever search engin knowing what I search for and where I search for independently of them.

    As for the concept of having all DDG’s !bangs added to my bookmars, 10,000 of them seems to me quite heavy given the fact using either of them would be occasional.

    I’ve nevertheless downloaded their bookmark.html file, a quick reference rather than going on their dedicated page.

    I’ve also installed a userscript, ‘UnDuckButton’ ( which is easily configurable to add buttons to DDG in order to have a direct access to searching the query on other chosen engines : i.e. this screenshot :

    1. Paul(us) said on January 13, 2022 at 12:40 pm

      Thanks @Tom Hawack.
      Nice extra features.

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