Foreign Exchange: Using Google.com

Like many Internet searchers, I am a fan of Google. As non-US based researchers will know, Google often tries to localize the search to your international flavor. So if you look for Google, it typically will end with the country code top level domain (ccTLD) of your country: Google.ca, for example. But when you execute a search against that index, you are not necessarily pulling from the main index, and so results may differ from what you see on a Google.com search. Here are two ways that you can change the default search in your Firefox Web browser from Google.ca to Google.com.

I use the OpenSearchFox plug-in (apparently discontinued) to customize additional search tools for the Firefox search box.  You will need to install an Open Search plug-in to make this first method work, like Dr. Evil’s Add to Search Bar.

By default, Firefox will search Google.  Click on the drop down for the search box, to “Manage Search Engines“.  Remove the entry for Google.  Then browse over to Google.com, right-click in the search box, and then add Google back to your search engines.  It will remember that it is a .com search and not a .ca (in my case) search.

A second method I’ve used is to download the Google Toolbar.  I don’t like the toolbar – it’s rather gaudy and full of things I don’t use, but you can force it to search Google.com.  Then you can customize it to replace the Firefox search bar, so that all searches are executed against Google.com.

Want to compare search results between Google.com and another location?  The different sites are listed on the Language Tools page at Google, along with different languages (including Elmer Fudd and the Swedish Chef).

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