Saving Time with Browser Keyword Shortcuts
Every day developers pass around different IDs.
Hey, could you review PR #4126?
She’s working on ticket 71741203.
Someone is complaining about order 83611, could you take a look?
It looks like the bug was introduced by commit bc411c.
Post 217 has a typo in the title.
Could you delete product MED3129?
In each of these circumstances you have to navigate to a page associated with the pull request, ticket, order, commit, post, or product in question.
Depending on which, you have to go to different website, perform a series of clicks, maybe do a bit of typing, wait for multiple pages to load, and possibly some scrolling or searching for the record you’re looking for.
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to skip all that and jump straight to the place you want to go?
Enter Browser Shortcuts
A simple yet often-overlooked solution to this problem is browser shortcuts. They’re like a bookmark, but with a variable argument.
In Chrome, we do this by adding the keyword to a custom search engine. It’s as simple as going to
chrome://settings/searchEngines and clicking the “Add” button. Then you give the new search a name, pick your keyword, and fill in the URL.
For instance, if you want to be able to type
pr 4126 to jump to pull request #4126 in your GitHub repository, you’d specify
pr as your keyword and
https://github.com/RyanGittins/my-repository/pull/%s as your URL.
In Firefox, this is actually a feature of bookmarks themselves. Just create a new bookmark and give it a name, location, and keyword.
Of course, you don’t have to limit your shortcuts to just development-related sites. Adding a shortcut to
https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/%s allows me to simply type
syn groovy and instantly see a list of synonyms for the word “groovy.”
If you often find yourself searching Gmail for old emails, you can wire up
https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#search/%s and be typing
gmail electric bill in no time!
This will work with any URL which varies by a single contiguous chunk—that is to say, by exactly one variable.
All in all, these browser shortcuts take just seconds to set up and will save you time every day. In a single workday I use these dozens, if not hundreds of times. Each of those times saves several seconds and oftentimes multiple pageloads. Each of those steps you can skip is a little more time and attention you can spend where you need it.
You’re only limited by your creativity, so please—send me a Tweet and let me know how you use these keyword shortcuts to speed up your daily life!