Keyboarding your way through Google searches

The other day I wrote about how I am trying to use the internal trackpad on my MacBook Pro instead of plugging in an external mouse. Since I switched to Mac from Windows I’ve become quite a heavy keyboard user, mainly because I feel that I am able to multi-task much better, especially when using the combination of LaunchBar and Spaces.

Where this breaks down is when I need to do a quick search in Google. I can quickly get to the search box by hitting Command-K in Firefox or Command-L, Tab in Safari (Command-Option-F in Safari is hard to pull off for me). I enter in my keywords and BAM, I’ve got my search results. But it breaks down once I need to navigate through the results – I pretty much have to grab the mouse.

The reason is that the only keyboard way to navigate through a Google search result is to hit the Tab key like you’re playing whack a mole in an arcade. This is because the tab key stops on every link on the page and there are far too many that are not search related.

Then Brian mentioned in the comments to the post that Google is running a keyboard experiment for Google search. Anyone can join the experiment, which adds a greater than (>) symbol to the left of the search results and allows you to use the J and K keys to navigate through the results. You can hit O (or Enter) to open the link or / to go back to the search box.

You can see what it looks like by clicking on this link: David Alison

I was really impressed with the way it sped up my Google search navigation; I didn’t have to move to the track pad or grab the mouse when on the Mac Pro, it had minimal impact on the presentation of the page and if I wanted to mouse around it still works as normal.

You can join the experiment yourself and it will add the behavior to the web browser you join the experiment with. If you run two browsers like I do (Safari + Firefox) you will need to join it on each. I’ve been happily joining the experiment on every machine I use.

Thanks for the great tip Brian!