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MSN Search Bar

I’m a long-time user of LookOut! (ok, ok – so addict is probably a more accurate description ;^).  As I’m sure many of you know, Microsoft bought LookOut last year, and are incorporating that technology into their search efforts.  As a result, the LookOut! tool I’m used to is soon to be replaced by the new MSN Search bar.  SO – I decided to download and install the MSN Search Toolbar and see how it works.  It is safe to say that I’m a relative newbie to search bars – I used the google search bar at one point in time, but I haven’t used it in about 18 months.

Short story is that after a few days, so far I like it – some improvements over LookOut include the ability to preview items that search has found.  This really rocks when you have multiple hits that could potentially be what you’re looking for – it’s much faster than having to open each item individually.  The other cool feature is the ability to preview Office documents – select an Excel file and you can see the contents, including multiple worksheets – way cool.

On top of all of that – the coolest feature I’ve found is the ability to define custom shortcuts for the desktop search bar.  I like to keep my desktop pretty clean – so being able to define shortcuts to apps is great.  But the coolest thing I’ve found so far is the ability to define search shortcuts with variables.  Case in point:  I have a few sites that I either using to search, or searching the contents on a regular basis.  Being able to define my own shortcuts with variables greatly improves my efficiency.  For example, I search google groups fairly frequently – and that is almost always looking for stuff related to SBS.  In the past, I had a favorite entry for the google groups advanced search page, but I’d still have to enter my search string and the groups I wanted to search.  Not any more.  Now I just type in sbs followed by my search string in the MSN desktop search bar and voila!  So what are the search shortcuts I’ve created so far?





Obviously, the syntax for creating your own shortcuts for the desktop bar is @ followed by your shortcut text (e.g. ‘sbs’), followed by a comma, which is followed by your URL.  To use a variable, insert a dollar sign followed by a w ($w).  The MSN desktop bar will replace the $w with whatever you enter after the search shortcut.  SO, if I wanted to search any usenet group containing sbs in its name for “SP1”, all I have to enter into my MSN desktop search bar is    sbs SP1    pretty cool, huh? 

event 1021  searches eventid.net for event 1021,
mvp isa  searches msmvps.com for isa,  and
kb sbcore   searches the Microsoft knowledge base for sbcore

I’ve got some more playing to do – but so far I’m liking the MSN Search Toolbar  :^)


  1. Amy Babinchak - Harbor Computer Services

    Where do you enter these pre-defind search strings?

  2. Chad

    Amy – you enter those in the deskbar. More info here: http://search.msn.com/docs/toolbar.aspx?t=MSNTbar_CONC_AboutDeskbarShortcuts.htm

  3. levent onen

    Chad, MS Desktop search is cool but I would really recommend that you try it out with ActiveWords, then you will become a true addict!

    http://www.activewords.com/ and then install the free add-in at http://www.activewords.com/downloads/awzips/AWMSN.exe

    They have a 60-day free trial.

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