Minor mode for defining and querying search engines through Emacs.
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MELPA Melpa Stable Status License: GPL v3

engine-mode is a global minor mode for Emacs. It enables you to easily define search engines, bind them to keybindings, and query them from the comfort of your editor.


For example, suppose we want to be able to easily search GitHub:

(defengine github

This defines an interactive function engine/search-github. When executed it will take the selected region (or prompt for input, if no region is selected) and search GitHub for it, displaying the results in your default browser.

The defengine macro can also take an optional key combination, prefixed with engine/keymap-prefix (which defaults to "C-x /"):

(defengine duckduckgo
  :keybinding "d")

C-x / d is now bound to the new function engine/search-duckduckgo! Nifty.

If you'd like to see a video on the whys and wherefores of this mode, check out the talk @hrs gave at EmacsNYC.


engine-mode is available on MELPA.

You can also install it like any other elisp file by adding it to your load path and globally enabling it:

(require 'engine-mode)
(engine-mode t)

Changing your default browser

engine-mode uses the engine/browser-function variable to determine which browser it should use to open the URL it constructs. To change the default browser, redefine engine/browser-function. For example, to always use Emacs' built-in eww browser:

(setq engine/browser-function 'eww-browse-url)

engine/browser-function defaults to browse-url-browser-function, which Emacs uses globally to open links.

The implementation of the browse-url-browser-function variable contains a comprehensive list of possible browser functions. You can get to that by hitting C-h v browser-url-browser-function <RETURN> and following the link to browse-url.el.

Changing your browser on a per-engine basis

To only change the browser for a single engine, use the :browser keyword argument when you define the engine. For example, to use eww only for your GitHub search results, try:

(defengine github
  :browser 'eww-browse-url)

As mentioned about, see the implementation of the browse-url-browser-function for a definitive list of browsers.

Changing the keymap prefix

The default keymap prefix for engine-mode is C-x /. If you'd like to bind the keymap to an additional prefix (say, C-c s), you totally can:

(engine/set-keymap-prefix (kbd "C-c s"))

Custom docstrings

defengine assigns each engine a reasonable default docstring, but you can override that on a case-by-case basis with the :docstring keyword argument:

(defengine ctan
  :docstring "Search the Comprehensive TeX Archive Network (ctan.org)")

Modifying the search term before sending it

An engine might want to transform a search term in some way before it interpolates the term into the URL. Maybe the term should have a different encoding, or be capitalized differently, or, uh, be passed through ROT13. Whatever the reason, you can apply a custom transformation to a search term by passing a function to defengine through the :term-transformation-hook keyword argument.

For example, to UPCASE all of your DuckDuckGo searches:

(defengine duckduckgo
  :term-transformation-hook 'upcase)

Or, to ensure that all your queries are encoded as latin-1:

(defengine diec2
  :term-transformation-hook (lambda (term) (encode-coding-string term latin-1))
  :keybinding "c")

Importing keyword searches from other browsers

Since many browsers save keyword searches using the same format as engine-mode (that is, by using %s in a url to indicate a search term), it's not too hard to import them into Emacs.

@sshaw has written a script to import from Chrome on OS X. Thanks for that!

Engine examples

(defengine amazon

(defengine duckduckgo
  :keybinding "d")

(defengine github

(defengine google
  :keybinding "g")

(defengine google-images

(defengine google-maps
  :docstring "Mappin' it up.")

(defengine project-gutenberg

(defengine rfcs

(defengine stack-overflow

(defengine twitter

(defengine wikipedia
  :keybinding "w"
  :docstring "Searchin' the wikis.")

(defengine wiktionary

(defengine wolfram-alpha

(defengine youtube