Tips on How to Search within a Web Page

I recently came across a great post on how bad the state of search skills is within the broad user base. This particular quote from the article not only caught my attention, it really highlighted how bad the problem is and how much improvement there is to be had with a little bit of education.

“90% of computer users do not know how to use CTRL + F (PC) or Command + F (Mac) to search through a document or Web page.”

Oh dear me! and here I am preaching about advanced Boolean expression and specialist search engines.

I guess we better get back to some of the basics.

Firstly, for 90% of you out there, DO NOT scan your document anymore and use CTRL+F (PC) or Command +F (Mac) to search and go directly to the keyword that you are looking for! Immediate productivity gain, guaranteed.

Secondly, searching for keywords within a page is such a common task (for me anyway), shaving more time through further automation adds up to significant amount of time saved in the long run. Here are a couple more tips to shave off those valuable seconds.

  • Avoid CTRL-F all together!

Within Firefox, there is a great feature whereby, searching for a keyword is automatically kicked off when you start typing. The option is under Advanced->General and is disabled by default.

Check it and you would wonder how you ever got by without it!

  • Automatically highlight searched keywords.

This one I blogged about way back in 2008 and is still one of my favourite feature of the Google toolbar.

Once you land on a new page after conducting a search through Google, Google toolbar gives you a couple of options in terms of navigating through the keywords you used during the initial search.

You can easily get to the keywords within the document (as show on the tool bar here after a search for “search poor craftsmen statistics) by clicking on the keywords themselves from the toolbar, or you can click on the yellow highlight pen icon (as demonstrated below). All the keywords will then be highlighted with different colours, allowing you to easily navigate and find the ones you are looking for.

I would have happily paid Google for the toolbar just to get this feature.

How about you, do you use CTRL-F today? Have any other tips to offer?


  1. Stephen Fennell says

    I agree, the highlight feature in the Google toolbar is absolutely invaluable. As a translator who needs to quickly find particular examples of words and phrases, I truly can’t sing its praises enough. Nevertheless, in just the last week or two it has stopped working properly. I have done Google searches for “google toolbar” + highlight + “not working” and similar phrases, but I can’t find anyone else having the same problem. Maybe it’s just my computer that is not working properly.

  2. Felix says

    Thanks for the feedback Stephen!Yes. Google toolbar can be a bit fiddly at times, have you tried re-installing it? Other things that I have found to help include disabling plugins, enabling browser history.

    In terms of searching for an answer, I would recommend that you be a bit more specific in your search string by including the environment/browser (ie Firefox?) and problem specific keywords (ie ~problem, “no highlight”)

  3. raja says

    HI there, i was wondering whether i can perform a website search (the whole page and other tabs).as for an example, i wana find a contact person in this specific website, so when i login can i get the information by just performing search option?

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