Write Commands in the Address Bar of your Browser

You probably use the address bar in your browser to search web pages. Now learn how to use the address bar to capture screenshots, send emails, download videos or even shorten the URLs.

July 15, 2012

You are already familiar with quite a few browser address bar shortcuts. For instance, type some text in the address bar of your browser (e.g. apple) , press Ctrl + Enter and the browser will automatically send you to the corresponding .com website (in this case, www.apple.com).

The search and address bar of Google Chrome

Or type in some complex search query (e.g., site:firefox.com internet explorer) in the address bar, hit go and the browser will show results from your default search engine*. The address bar of Google Chrome is even smarter as it can offer live suggestions while you are typing the search query.

Other than these built-in shortcuts, you may also want to know about a couple of URL hacks (a better term would be “address bar commands“) that let you do stuff from the address bar itself   – they are pretty easy to remember and don’t require you to install any bookmarklets or add-ons (so you can use them on any computer and even some mobile phones).

1. Capture a screenshot – Go to your browser’s address bar, type aviary.com before the http:// part of the URL and hit Enter. Aviary will immediately capture a full screenshot image of the web page that’s currently open in your browser – here’s an example.

2. Download videos – If you are like to download a YouTube video, just add deturl.com to the URL (see example) and you’ll be able to save the video in either Flash or Quicktime format. This is a pretty useful option for mobile phones that don’t support the flash player but can play Quicktime.

3. Shrink the address – There are about a million URL shortening services out there but if you want to quickly shrink the URL from the address bar itself, try this – just type bit.ly before the URL and it give you the short form on the next screen.

4. Email a web page – If you want to email a link of the current web page to a contact or to your own self, here’s a trick. Just type the mailto command in the address bar and this will compose a new message in your default email program – you can have the URL of the page in either the body of the message or in the subject line itself.

mailto:a@b.com?body=http://google.com/   (a@b.com is the email of your contact)

5. Share or bookmark a web page – If you find the above email command a bit scary, here’s something more simple. Go the address bar of your browser and type smub.it/ just before the URL as in this example. You can then share that page on any social site or even send the link to your friends via email. A perfect option for mobile phones.

6. Who owns that website – If you want to know the email address and other contact details of the owner of a site, the whois record of that site can sometimes help. To view the whois details of the current site, type whois.domaintools.com/ in the address bar (just before the http:// part) and there you have all the information – see example.

7. Send yourself notesFutz.me is a free service that lets you email text notes, hyperlinks and even images from the right the address bar of your browser.

Go to the address bar, type futzme.com/xyz followed by a space (xyz is your unique username) and anything that’s after the space will be sent to your email address. If you use Futz.me with a URL that points to an image, the image will be sent you via an email attachment or even through MMS (if you are in the US).

8. Mobile friendly web – If you are reading web pages on a mobile phone, you can easily convert the current page into a mobile friendly version by adding http://mopwn.com/ in front of the URL in your address bar as in this example. Internally, the mopwn service will simply forward your request to Google Transcoder but it’s still very handy.

Related: Browse the web faster on a slow Internet connection

9. When the default is not Google – When you type a search phrase in the address bar of your browser, the query gets executed using the default search engine which is Google in both Firefox and Google Chrome (factory settings).

Now if you are using IE with Bing or have manually changed the default to something else, here’s how you can still query Google from the address bar without changing any of the current settings. Go to the address bar and type gog.is followed by the search terms. For instance, gog.is/digital,inspiration will show Google pages for “Digital Inspiration”.

Update: If your address bar search queries are getting redirected to OpenDNS, here’s a quick fix.