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ContextSearch adds a ton of search options to Firefox

ContextSearch web-ext is a browser extension for the Firefox web browser that improves Firefox’s contextual search functionality in several ways. The extension started out as a replacement for the legacy add-on Context Search but has evolved to a powerful feature-rich extension.

Firefox supports several search options by default: users can search from the address bar or the search box, or right-click on any text selection to run a search for the selection on the default search engine.

Since you can add pretty much any search engine to Firefox and use keyword-based searches, it is already set up for a good search experience.

Some Firefox users want a deeper experience and ContextSearch web-ext delivers that. It is not the first contextual search add-on for the Firefox web browser but the majority of classic search add-ons are no longer compatible. We reviewed Swift Selection in 2018 which offers a similar experience.


context search firefox

ContextSearch requires permissions to run on all sites that you open in the web browser and access to all tabs which is in line with the provided functionality. The extension adds an icon to the main Firefox toolbar that you may interact with; the main way to interact with it, however, is to select text on any website — with a few notable exceptions such as internal Firefox pages — and either use the right-click context menu or specific actions to display the search menu.

You can select the Context Search option from the right-click menu or hold the right-click button down just a tad longer to display the search menu directly. The extension displays a list of default search engines that you may select one from. Other options provided by the menu include locking the search interface, useful to run searches on multiple engines or to copy the selection to the Clipboard.

You may notice that added custom search engines are not included by default because of WebExtensions limitations that are currently in place. You can still add custom search engines that you use in Firefox but need to point the extension to the search.json.mozlz4 file of the Firefox profile folder to do so.

You may add search engines manually as well but need to provide the search URL and other information such as the form path or search method to do so.

Search engines can be ordered in any way, you can hide some that you don’t need or create folders if you plan to add a lot of search engines to the extension’s search database. You may run searches on all search engines inside a folder when you use certain modifier keys.

firefox search

Another useful feature is the ability to add bookmarklets as well. You can execute the bookmarklet on the selection in Firefox then.

Context Search offers lots of flexibility when it comes to using the extension while you use the browser.  The two main options are to use the right-click context menu for searches or the what the extension author calls quick menu.

The context menu option is straightforward but you may use modifier keys to launch searches in a new window or background tab by holding down the Shift-key or the Ctrl-key.

The Quick Menu on the other hand is opened by default when you hold the right mouse button. You can change the mouse action or add hotkeys or a single key, or have it opened automatically on text selection.

Actions support different modifiers as well: a left-click opens the search in a new tab and a right-click on the current tab. You get actions to open searches in a new window and background tab as well, and separate options to deal with folders.

You find appearance related options in the settings as well to change the menu and icon size, position of the menu, and the number of columns and rows that it supports.

Closing Words

Context Search web-ext is a powerful search extension for the Firefox web browser. It may take some time to get it set up correctly as you may need to add custom search engines to it and modify the default behavior.

It makes context-related searches faster and better in the Firefox browser provided that you want to run them using different engines regularly.

Now You: Do you use a search extension in your browser of choice?

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