Last year I reviewed a time saving tip for Firefox (here) which lets you search for text in webpages more quickly. Using the tip I can look for text in a web page instantly when I start typing in Firefox instead of having to open the Quick Find search box first.
Firefox make this possible via an Accessibility setting in its Options. Now that I use Google Chrome more often in my day job I really miss this quick search feature – Chrome does not have an equivalent and Google have stated that they won’t include it.
Fortunately a Chrome extension called Type-Ahead-Find comes to the rescue.
Type-Ahead-Find Extension – As the name suggests, Type-ahead-find adds an accessibility feature to look for text when I start typing in Chrome – a core functionality in Firefox (and Safari).
Install Type-ahead-find from the Chrome web store here. Now, if you want to look for text in a web page, just start typing the text!
A yellow Quick Find search box automatically opens up in the top right corner showing your query text and the number of matches found on the page so far. The matching text is highlighted in the web page.
Special Quick Find For Website Links Only
A useful shortcut is that pressing the apostrophe ‘ key opens a Quick Find search box for links only (purple box instead of yellow) i.e. look for just website links within the webpage.
- You can also open a blank Quick Find text search box by pressing the / key
- Once you stop typing, the Quick Find box will not automatically close by default (you can close it manually by pressing the ESC key).
However, you can make it close automatically after a set number of seconds by doing the following: go to the chrome://extensions page and press ‘Options’ next to the Type-ahead-find extension. In the Options window, set the ‘Timeout’ to a number of seconds (after which the search box will be hidden) and press the Save button to save your changes.
You may need to restart Chrome for this change to take effect – any text match remains highlighted even after the Quick Find box has closed.
- As this is a Quick search box rather than the normal Find box there is no ‘Next’ or ‘Previous’ button – but you can still do these by pressing F3 (or Ctrl+g) to ‘Next’ or Shift+F3 (or Shift+Ctrl+g) to ‘Previous’ through the matches found in the webpage.
- If your cursor is inside a text input box (e.g. ready for you to type in your email/comment) the Quick Find box will not appear when you type – to avoid Quick Find popping up accidentally, make sure you click inside a text box first if you want to type a comment etc instead of searching. Alternatively, see the next section.
Problems With Accidental Opening
If the Quick Find box pops up when you don’t want it to (e.g. if you forget to click in a text input box first) go to chrome://extensions and click ‘Options’ next to the Type-ahead-find extension then in the Options window set “Direct search mode” to “Disabled”.
You will now have to press / (for text) or ‘ (for link) searches for the extension to start – but it’s still quicker than the default Find in Chrome.
What About The ‘Normal’ Find Box?
You can still open a ‘normal’ Find box by clicking the Chrome wrench (spanner) icon then Find – or by pressing Ctrl+f
The normal Find box has ‘Next’ and ‘Previous’ down/up arrows to make navigation easier (the keyboard shortcuts given in ‘Other Features’ above also work) but it does not close automatically after you finish typing – you have to click the x at the right of the box to close it (or press the ESC key)
The Type-ahead-find extension does for Chrome what the built in accessibility option does for Firefox – it lets me look for text when I start typing in Chrome without having to click on two things or press two keys to open the standard Find box.
I like the fact that there is an option to make the quick search box automatically disappear and the extension makes it even easier to automatically look for text, saving time – the ‘ shortcut for searching website links in a page can be useful too.
It is worth noting that the reason this feature is listed under Accessibility in Firefox is that it helps disabled people who have limited mobility or shaky hands. I know Google aim to keep Chrome as minimalist as possible but it is sad they will not include such a feature to help disabled users – even the developer of this extension notes that “although this extension tries to do the job the best it can, it cannot be as powerful and fast as a core feature“.
If you give Type-ahead-find a try, why not let us know what you think in the comments below?