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The next level for Firefox smart keywords: yubnub

I’ve written about Firefox smart keywords before. Now, I’ve just come across yubnub, which takes smart keywords to the next level. In fact, yubnub is much more useful and general, a “social command line for the web”, but for starters, you can use it just as you would smart keywords, with the difference that they are stored online. The immediate benefit is that you can access them from any computer, but the option of piping commands that are hosted on different servers means this has much more potential; read more in this blog post by the yubnub author.

An impressive instant favorite is 2g followed by two alternate spellings, to give a split pane view showing the results of the respective google searches — useful for an instant popular vote (it seems “definite” is still firmly in the lead, so far …).

How to use it in Firefox? Just install yubnub as a smart keyword:

  • Go to
  • Right click on the main search bar and select “Add a keyword for this search …”
  • In the resulting dialogue, enter a name and a keyword (for example, y)

Now, typing: y 2g definite definate into the location bar uses the 2g yubnub search term. Still too much typing? Try this: You know how when you type a non-URL text into the location bar and hit enter, Firefox sends this to the Google “I’m feeling lucky” search? Just change this behavior to send the text to yubnub:

  • Type about:config into the location bar, hit ENTER.
  • Filter for keyword.URL.
  • Change this to
  • Now, you can omit the y and type 2g definite definate instead.

Conveniently, if you have a smart keyword defined locally for your Firefox, this takes precedence over the “keyword.URL” and hence over yubnub. As a result, if someone has used a keyword on yubnub but you’d rather use it for something else, you can still define it locally to your liking. However, I guess this could be a challenge for yubnub in the long run. What if someone defines an easy-to-ermember popular keyword for an obscure, unpopular command, then hardly ever uses it, but blocks that keyword from being used for a more popular command? Would be a shame. I guess some voting mechanism or, in the long run, user authenication with the possibility of customized deviations from some keywords could get around that.


It seems that the problem I suspected in the last paragraph has already been solved: you can create personal aliases for yubnub commands (yubnub uses cookies for this). Just type man ! into a yubnub search to learn more.

One Response to “The next level for Firefox smart keywords: yubnub”

  1. Jonathan Aquino Says:

    Hi Marianne – Thanks for the YubNub review. If a good keyword is taken by a bad command, people usually email me about it and I remove it. This is quite rare though.