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Mac OS X Hacks by Rael Dornfest, Kevin Hemenway

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Searching the Internet from Your Desktop

Thanks to a collection of freeware and shareware apps and a few clever hacks, you can weave Internet search into the fabric of your Mac computing experience.

Searching the Web — with Google in particular — has become such a part of our daily online lives that Google is now regarded as a verb and even the uber-literary New Yorker gets webby with Google-related cartoons. You’re being Googled while on the phone with someone who can’t quite remember who you are or why they asked you to ring them. Without Google close at hand, you’re a day late and a dollar short.

Too bad web searching’s so closely tied to the browser. For that matter, even choice of search engine is most often hardcoded into the browser and can’t be pried loose without a modicum of hackery. Wouldn’t it do wonders to be able to search from any application for the highlighted text right under your mouse pointer?

Thanks to a collection of freeware and shareware apps and a few clever hacks, all this and more is within reach. All of these solutions construct an appropriate query URL, much as you’d see in your browser’s address bar after submitting a search directly (e.g., http://www.google.com/search?q=hacks).

Searchling

Michael Thole’s Searchling (http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~mthole/searchling/) (open source donateware) embeds search functionality right into your menu bar for access from anywhere at any time (see Figure 8-1). Click the G — that’s G as in Google — menu bar icon, ...

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