jb… a weblog by Jonathan Buys

Contextual Search

My personal browser of choice has almost always been Omniweb. Omniweb and I went through a tough time for a while when it (she?) was crashing frequently and generally having a tough time of it. The Omni Group has once again straightened things out, and she (yea, I’ve decided Omniweb is a she) is once again fast, sleek, and powerful. There is one small item about the browser that bothers me though, and that is the lack of a search function from the browsers contextual menu that pops up when you select a word and right click on it.

Exhibit A: Omniweb Contextual Menu Omniweb Contextual Menu

Omniweb has some interesting options available, including the somewhat dubious value of cascading the “Page” menu that is available when right clicking without selecting a word. I’ve tried both the “Start Speaking” and “Inspect Element” options, neither of which do me any good in my normal browsing flow.

When Omniweb and I were not getting along I tried out both Firefox and Safari for a while. While both browsers offer a search function from the contextual menu, Firefox has made the best choice from a usability standpoint.

Exhibit B: Firefox Contextual Menu Firefox Contextual Menu

When I select “Search Answers.com For ‘perfect’”, Firefox opens a tab in the background searching Google for the word that I had selected. To me, this is clearly the best option.

Safari’s search function is complemented by a “Search in Spotlight” option that I’ve never used. I suppose its nice that its here, but still, never used. The ability to search the built in dictionary is nice, and I think I may have used that function once.

Exhibit C: Safari Contextual Menu Safari Contextual Menu

The problem I have with Safari’s search Google option is that it replaces the tab that I’m reading instead of opening up another tab. Clearly this defeats the purpose, I’m interested in the word, product, or service that I’m reading about, but I don’t want to stop reading to search Google. I want Google to be there in the background waiting for me when I’m good and ready. Firefox has this right, and I think both Safari and Omniweb could stand to adopt this feature.

mac productivity