CategoriesTechnologyTips & Tricks

Quickly Searching Wikipedia

While doing genealogy research, I end up going to Wikipedia a lot to do many things from finding locations of cities in Europe to finding which county a city is in. It takes a few steps to browse to Wikipedia, then to the English version, and then try to find my entry.

Google Chrome  and Mozilla Firefox have a nice feature that allows you to add custom search engines to your browser that can be tied to a short-hand keyword. For example, in both my versions of Firefox and Chrome, I just need to type “w Poland” in my address bar and I will be taken to the “Poland” page on Wikipedia.

Here is how you set that up in both browsers:

Google Chrome

In Chrome, your first step is to click on the “wrench” icon at the top-right and select “Options.”  On the first tab, Basics, there is a section called “Search.” Inside of that section is a button named “Manage Search Engines…” Click on that button.

Once you’re inside the new settings tab, you will see a list of default search engines and then a list of “other” search engines. You will be adding Wikipedia to your “other” list. There are 3 boxes at the bottom of the “other” search engine list. One for Search Engine name, one for the browser keyword, and one to tell the browser how to search.

You can see I already have Wikipedia entered into my list along with some other sites. To add add Wikipedia’s quick search to your browser type these into the 3 boxes:

  • In the first box, enter Wikipedia
  • In the second box, enter a shorthand keyword you would like to use. I personally use “w”
  • In the last box, enter
The %s part tells Chrome to replace that with your search term. You can now close out of the “Options” tab. Now when you type something like “w Poland” into your address bar, you should see it give you an option to search Wikipedia. It even works with spaces, like “w East Germany.” Though, with this entry, you’re technically not “searching” Wikipedia. You are actually going directly to the page you’re looking for, like Poland. If you enter a term that does not have a Wikipedia page, it will ask you if you’d like to search for it.

Mozilla Firefox

Firefox’s process is, in most cases, much easier. Firefox, by default, comes with the English Wikipedia search engine installed. Though, to enable the keyword, you will need to add it. To do this, click on the drop-down arrow on Firefox’s search box and select “Manage Search Engines…”

Once you have the Search Engine window open, select the “Wikipedia (en)” entry and click “Edit Keyword…”

That opens the “Edit Keyword” window. Inside of that text box, type in your preferred keyword, such as “w”

Hit “Ok” and close the windows. Now when you type “w Poland” or “w Milwaukee, Wisconsin” into your address bar, you should be taken to the correct Wikipedia page.

If you don’t currenty use either of these browsers, download them and give them a try.

Published by Brian Zalewski

I started genealogy research about mid-1999. My grandfather had passed away in April of that year. Since then I’ve done a lot of research not only for myself, but for friends and other relatives. In 2006, I married the love of my life, Darcy, and welcomed the birth of our daughter, Aerissa Jean, in 2010 and our son, Xander Lee, in 2012. I can’t wait to tell them stories about all of their ancestors.