yubnub: Forget the Extension, There’s a Better Way

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Ok, I officially retract my recommendation from a month ago; yubnub don’t need no stinkin’ Firefox extension. To Jonathan‘s credit, a sizable community of applications has in fact grown up around yubnub here, but for my money the simplest solution is one first recommended to me in the comments on my original post by Danno. After a bit of time retraining myself (old habits die hard), I’m now highly enjoying turning the web into one big command line.

For example, I’m headed over to NewsGator’s offices here in Denver this afternoon. To find exactly where they are, I merely type “yn gm 518 17th St, Denver, CO” then hit enter, at which point I’m automatically redirected to the Google Maps of their address here. Or maybe, as one of the folks on my blogroll did recently, I want to know more about Sun’s Tim Bray: this time I type “yn wp Tim Bray,” at which point I’m directed here. Or maybe, it’s got nothing to do with work and I want to find out what all the fuss is about and order the new Harry Potter book – “yn am Harry Potter” takes me here.

To deconstruct the simple commands, it works like this. The “yn” bit tells Firefox to trigger a bookmark via keyword (I’ll show you how to do this in a second), the next bit specifies the target datasource (gm is for Google Maps, am is for Amazon, wp is for Wikipedia, and so on), and whatever follows is piped to that data source as your query.

Disintermediating the home page of such sites is far more rewarding than you might think; the 10 or 20 seconds you save by skipping directly to the content you’re looking for, bypassing the home page of the respective sites, is not an insignificant chunk of time when 8 seconds is about what will people can be expected to wait for page loads.

The best part of all of this is that using the service really couldn’t be simpler. Here’s how you the simplest way to use it, in Firefox:

  1. Drag this link (YubNub) onto your links toolbar (or press Control-D) to bookmark it.
  2. Find the bookmark you just made and right-click it. In the window that pops up, enter yn in the “Keyword:” field.”
  3. You’re done. Seriously, that’s it. Where you’d normally enter a URL, type in yn wp Firefox and hit enter, and you should be taken to the Wikipedia page on Firefox.

Bear in mind, too, that I’ve only listed a few of the commands that yubnub has available – the full list is here (here are the 50 most used). Even better, the commands are extensible. If you’re feeling really brave, you can create your own commands here.

Hope you enjoy playing with it; any questions, post them here and I’ll do what I can to help.


  1. Hooray for YubNub!!

    Stephen – I’m grateful for your lucid explanations.

  2. hooray for YubNub indeed, and no worries at all Jonathan. i'm always happy to talk up useful new services.

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