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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?


@sbs,http://groups.google.com/groups?as_q=$w&num=10&scoring=r&hl=en&as_epq=&as_oq=&as_eq=&as_ugroup=*sbs*&as_usubject=&as_uauthors=&lr=
&as_drrb=q&as_qdr=&as_mind=1&as_minm=1&as_miny=1981&as_maxd=15&as_maxm=10&as_maxy=2005&safe=off


@event,http://www.eventid.net/display.asp?eventid=$w


@mvp,http://search.msn.com/results.aspx?q=$w+site%3Amsmvps.com&FORM=QBRE


@kb,http://search.msn.com/results.aspx?q=$w++site%3Asupport.microsoft.com&FORM=QBRE


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? 


Likewise: 
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  :^)

3 Comments

  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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