Fastest Search - an Addon helping Firefox beat Google Chrome Instant and does much more!
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Please read the guide below for help with Fastest Search (v3.0+) features!

  1. Change Fastest Search Settings
    • After installation, Fastest Search places an icon on Firefox Addon Bar. If you don't see your Addon Bar, right click in a gray area between icons on your toolbar (like the gray area between Location Bar and Search Bar) and check "Addon Bar". Then follow this demo video to move icon to Firefox toolbar.
    • Left click on Fastest Search icon will bring up the main Options Panel. The clickable links at the top of the main Options Panel bring you to other panels.
    • The little blue '?' accompanying almost all options in all panels explains what each option does.
    • Please NOTE that no setting will be saved until you press the 'Save' button in the option panel you're on.
    • I apologize for the unusual Options access (using the icon), but it is actually faster this way, and there were technical and historical reasons why it was done this way.
  2. Search text on page
    • Press 'Ctrl-Shift-F' (or 'Ctrl-F' if you checked 'Use Ctrl-F to show Search Panel' in 'Keyboard Shortcuts', Ctrl-F or Ctrl-Shift-F will launch Firefox's own Find depending on this setting) to bring up the Search Panel to search. Press 'Esc' key to remove the Fastest Search scrollbar on the right (or left if you chose so) and its special red highlighting
    • Optionally, left click on Fastest Search icon, click the 'Keyboard Shortcuts' and check 'Find-as-you-type on page?' (or starting with FS3.32+, press '/' in a non-editable area of webpage). Then you can just type on page and search right away.
    • Press 'F3' or 'Ctrl-G' to search forward, 'F2' or 'Shift-F3','Ctrl-Shift-G' to search backward. F4 flashes current match. F1 highlights all matches again if you accidentally clicked on the page and lost highlight. The current match is shown as dark pink on Fastest Search scrollbar and flashes once on page to tell you it's the current match.
    • Click on Fastest Search scrollbar/match marking scrolls page to the clicked position/match.
    • In the Match # div that shows "1 of 6 Match", now if you left click on it, it does what F3 does - go to next match. If you right click on it, you can enter the exact number of match you want to go to.
    • Press 'Ctrl-Alt-T' to popup an option where you can restrict text search to links only, lists in tables only, divs of a certain CSS class only... Just follow the example at the popup or learn to use XPath to restrict it!
  3. Search the web
    • Just type away in Firefox urlbar and the top valid search result from your history/bookmarks (customizable in FF Option panel) will be loaded as you type. If no valid result is found, a Google search is launched and result page is instantly loaded. Fastest Search allow you to use a non-Google engine for the Instant search (in Instant Settings panel), better than Google Chrome.
    • The Instant search feature can be turned off for urlbar, individual engine or all engines (see below).
    • To search any search engine from urlbar or searchbar, just type something like ';g tabletools2' and watch autocomplete/keyword suggestions pops up as you type, and the top search result from any selected search engine(s) is loaded as you type. The ';' at start tells Fastest Search it's a shortcut search, 'g' is shortcut for Google (you can change this shortcut in Engine Panel), and 'tabletools2' is the keyword here. So ';g tabletools2' searches Google for my tabletools2 extension.
    • The ';' at start is optional in urlbar/searchbar.
    • Type ';g,yt Charlie Liu piano' in any textbox/textarea on any page/FindBar and suggestions also pops up, but top result won't instantly load. Press 'enter' key to finish search instead. This example search would search both Google and Youtube about a young piano prodigy who happens to be my older son.
    • Type ';Finance GOOG' searches all 'Finance' category engines on Google stock.
    • Type ';g' or ';Maps' without any keyword, then press 'return' key, then Google or all Maps category engines will be launched in current tab or more new tabs if needed.
    • Ctrl + ';' would focus inside the first textbox on page, very useful if you're on a search result page and want to search again. Press Ctrl + ';' again would loop to the next textbox on the page.
    • Easily add a search engine you like: just right click inside the query box of the engine and choose 'Create Fastest Search' to add it. IF you don't see 'Create Fastest Search', just type 'TESTKEY' in the query textbox and search for it. Once result page is fully displayed, click on 'Fastest Search' icon on AddonBar, then select 'Add Engine for Current Page'. Use the Test query box to check if 'GET' or 'POST' option works for your engine!
    • Left click on Fastest Search icon on Firefox's Addon Bar brings up the Options panel and choose 'Manage Search Engines', you can see all current engines, choose 'Edit' to change their shortcuts and/or turn off instant feature for any engine or use Batch Update to reset ranking all engines, change autocomplete/keyword suggest provider, remove any engine, import engines from your searchbar (thus you can import InstantFox, Add to SearchBar added engines), export/import engines to share/backup.
    • Each engine can have many categories. For example, you can set Amazon's category to 'Shopping,Book' and Amazon would now be included when you search for either Shopping or Book category. This allows you to slice and dice your engine collection for all kinds of specific searches.
    • By default, search result for searches in urlbar and SearchBar are loaded in current tab. You can change this to open search result in new tab by choosing 'Search opens new tab?' in Miscellanous Setting panel. Setting 'Textbox default to preview' in Options panel will instead launch a one-tab or multi-tab preview panel for search results instead of loading result in current tab or new tab. This preview panel ALWAYS opens on your main monitor, therefore you could browse on secondary monitor (if available) while previewing on primary monitor. It's very efficient and cool!
    • Preview panel size can be adjusted in Options panel
    • Tabs in Preview panel can be copied to Firefox by double clicking on the tab.
    • Fastest Search adds another search box at bottom of Google web/video/news/shopping pages for your convenience. This can be turned off in Miscellenous Settings panel.
    • Fastest Search can take back the up/down arrow keys hijacked by if you choose so in Miscellenous Settings panel.
    • Search for businesses near home easily using syntax like ';gm pizza near ;h ' (if you set 'h' to be home address in 'My Map Locations' available in Options panel)
    • Get local weather fast - Left click Fastest Search icon to open Options panel, click on 'Search Engines', choose either AccuWeather or Weather and edit the zip code from 08540 to whatever zip code you're in. Then in ANY textbox, type their shortcuts shows you your local weather. Like ';aw' + 'return' key shows local weather on AccuWeather. ';wt' + 'return' key gets local weather on
    • For those who do not like Google Instant feature, you could turn off Instant in URL bar by clicking Fastest Search icon, then at the top 'Instant Settings', and uncheck 'Instant URL Bar'. Turn off individual engine by edit the engine through Engines panel or choose one of 3 settings in 'Instant Settings' to allow Instant on all engines, no engines, or per-engine setting. You can even adjust how fast the Instant loading fires based on your typing speed! If you still want to turn Instant off, rest assured even then Fastest Search has many more features to help you search/surf/save/copy faster!
    • Fastest Search will override the infamous Firefox "switch to tab" when Instant is not disabled.
    • Search Engines panel also show how many times an engine was used in 'Usage' column. The 'Rank' column determines the ranking of an engine and can be changed by clicking 'Edit' for the engine. Ranking is used for best guessed engine as explained below.
    • BTW you can use 'c' for calculator, like ';c 3+5' will get you result 3+5=8 from Google calculator.
    • Now lastly, how are the best engines guessed? The selected text are first tested against patterns of 5 categories: Maps, Dictionary, Finance, Translation, Shopping. If the pattern matches, the best engine (the one with the highest 'Usage Rank') is chosen. You can demote/promote a search engine by modifying the 'Usage Rank' of an engine through editing. If none of the 5 categories look like a reasonable match, 'General' category will be assigned to the selected text, and the very best engine for all the none-'Maps/Dictionary/Finance/Translation' categories will be chosen. By default, this would be Google unless you change 'Usage Rank'. Unfortunately, this cannot be more specific, because when you select 'Bach Prelude', it's hard to guess if you want to search Wikepedia or Youtube or both. After all, if Fastest Search guessed wrong, you can always edit and change the engine to the one(s) you like!
  4. Select text and search web right away
    • When you select text, a small popup (the Smart Searchbox, or SSB) containing a textbox and 7 icons (default is 7 but unlimited number of engines or engine categories are supported in the Smart Searchbox panel in the main Options panel). Press 'return' key or click on icon to search right away.
    • Right click on an icon to preview search result
    • Clicking on a category icon (red dotted border) will launch all engines in that category as tabs in Firefox (left click) or Preview Panel (right click).
    • If you choose 'Select search default to preview' in Options panel (left click on Fastest Search icon), then the behavior above will reverse - right click to launch result in new tab but left click or 'enter' key launches preview.
    • To change engine, just type the engine you want (no need to move mouse inside the textbox in the popup first)
    • You can also type multiple engines like 'g,y' or ONE category like 'Maps' etc. in the textbox. Preview/search will be done on those engines at once.
    • As you enter the engine, the icon for the last entered engine will have its icon displayed in the popup icon area. Category would have Fastest Search's icon shown after entered. If the icon is blank, it means you entered a non-existent engine shortcut or category name.
    • Press 'ctrl' key to hide popup, press 'shift' key to bring it up again.
    • Normally SSB is dismissed after a preset amount of time (default is 5 seconds, change it in Smart Searchbox panel in main Options panel), but if you hold the 'Shift' key, SSB won't be auto-dismissed (after you release Shift, SSB will auto-dismiss after the normal dismissal time).
    • Press 'tab' key to bring the engine and selected text to Firefox searchbar to modify the text before searching.
    • By default SSB does not pop up when you select text inside an editable area (like textarea, email compose area etc). But SSB can now popup even when you select text inside an editable area/input, IF you hold Shift+Alt keys at the time of selection.
    • Optionally you can choose a different popup location relative to mouse using 'Select popup offset' in Options panel.
    • Get driving directions/auto complete location: Choose 'My Map Locations' in Options panel, enter the shortcut(s) and location(s) as instructed. Next time if you see an address on page, just select it, a popup with engine 'gm' (Google Map) should show up (if not, just type 'gm'). Now type ';', the popup textbox will have a thick red border now (indicating it's in directions mode), and then type 'h' (assuming you use it as the shortcut for home address) and press 'return' key, you would get driving direction from home to the selected address. If you type '2h' instead of 'h', it will give you directions from selected address to home instead.
    • In Options panel, if you set 'Hide popup after .. seconds' to 0, then the popup won't show up at all. Pressing 'shift' key still brings it up.
    • You can also change the popup position relative to mouse in Options panel.
    • If you selected a plain text URL, Fastest Search will launch the URL in new tab by default. You can disable it in Miscellanous Settings panel.
  5. Drag-and-Drop Links and Images to open/save
    • Fastest Search enables right click and drag links to 4 zones (UpperRight, UpperLeft, LowerRight, LowerLeft) to open links in tabs on left/right in fore/background.
    • Right click and drag images saves the image automatically into one of 4 directories.
    • 'Force find image' option saves background images and lifts the block websites place on right clicking on image (respect the copyright & save only the incorrect blocks, like Flickr actually blocks many images whose copyright owners granted copy rights).
    • Press 'Shift' key while drag and drop to change save location, 'Alt' key changes file name, 'Ctrl+Alt' key force find image, all on the fly!
    • Fastest Search icon on Addon bar will flash if image is saved.
    • You can also use 'Manage Save Locations' link in Options panel to put in path for each zone (if you put in a path in the first zone listed but not the other 3 zones, the rest 3 zones will automatically use the path for the 1st zone).
    • BTW Drag-n-drop image NEVER overwrites images. If a same-named image was found in the directory, a unique number will be attached to new image name so that it doesn't overwrite old image.
    • Fastest Search icon on Addon bar will flash if image is saved.
    • Drag-n-drop saving images can be disabled in Options. Drag-n-drop links to open them cannot be disabled.
  6. Auto Copy/MiddleClick to Paste:
    • When text on a webpage is selected, the plain text is copied onto clipboard by default.
    • Selected text inside text input box, textarea and HTML editor iframes is NOT auto-copied.
    • Fastest Search icon will flash if text is copied to clipboard.
    • Click middle mouse button to paste text on clipboard.
    • Optionally, one could enable 'Smart Copy & Paste' in Options, which will allow copying URL of current tab when you press ctrl-c on a page without selecting anything first. But if you press ctrl-c in a textbox without selecting text in the box, the entire text box content will be copied to clipboard. And if you paste with ctrl-v or middle button click (if you enabled it in Options) while the mouse focus is NOT inside a place you can input text, the text on clipboard will be pasted to URL bar and go if text is a valid URL, otherwise it is pasted into the first textbox on page if available, otherwise into the searchbar.
  7. Other options in Options panel:
    • Just read the explanations by clicking on the blue '?' mark next to the option!