Add Keyword Shortcuts to Google Translate in Firefox

The number of times a day I find my self going to Google Translate or Googling for define: <word> is really amazing, and opening the page over and over is tedious as well. Leaving the tab open is a good way, but hey it will get lost soon in the middle of all the other tabs. One good practice is to memorize and maintain it’s order in each Firefox window, say you place it in second tab. Then you could simply go Ctrl+2 and Firefox will take you to that tab, and you can do your translation. I like the faster way however, using the Keyword for search feature in Firefox bookmarks. Before going into the steps, I think it’s worthy to take a look at the main parameters of the url:|ar|test

Now to break it all into peaces, this is my URL which lands a default English to Arabic translation in an English interface, and the parts of the URL taken apart are:

- hl=en: The default interface language. You can change this to hl=ar for instance to get an Arabic version of it.

- sl=en: Default selected source or starting language to translate from in the drop down list. In my case I usually want to translate from English.

- tl=ar: Default selected terminating language in the drop down list to which the source language will get translated, Arabic in this case.

- en|ar|test: The text after the Hash (#) sign is basically the query being sent, and it corresponds accordingly to the source language (en), destination or terminating language (ar), and the text to translate (test), with the vertical bar (“|”) character separating them.

Note: sl & tl are not really so important when you create a keyword shortcut since they only represent the default selected language in the drop down list. They’re just presented here for explanation.

Now to the quick few steps:

1. Go to Organize Bookmarks in Firefox.

2. Right-Click Bookmarks Menu and select New Bookmark.

Firefox Add New Bookmark

3. Fill in the parameters as needed, using the below as example (or exactly if what you need is English to Arabic translation):

Name: Google En/Ar Translate


Make sure you change the en & ar to your desired from and to languages.

Keyword: Make it short and meaningful, like “ea” without the double quotes for English-to-Arabic.

Description: This is optional and just for your reference.

Google Translate English to Arabic Bookmark with Keyword

That’s it. By now you should be able to translate from English to Arabic (or your choice) from your Firefox Address bar like this:

Google Translate from Firefox Address Bar

For vicevers, add another Keyword bookmark. At all rates, once you have it and wanna translate a word, just do Ctrl+L to move to the address bar, write your letters, e.g. “ea Arsenal”, and Alt+Click to open the result in new tab and preserve current one.

NOTE: For Chrome users, there is a way to do just that, but last time I tried the bookmarks manager was still so amature. If you can’t find an easy way to fill in such keywords, do this stupid trick. Add it in Firefox, import it and export it to Chrome ;). Worked for my other bookmarks.

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  • maryam

    1st thing I got is how to move between my tabs ;P -don’t kill me- believe me that’s why I read your blog ;P

    I use the google translator, that’s why I added it as a gadget in my iGoogle home page! It’s fun, it even remembers my language choice, so I’ll find arabic-english and when I need to switch just click on the arrow between

  • Bashar

    maryam: LOL :). Many people don’t know, it’s pretty useful. I center Gmail as Tab 1 for quick access. You know the Ctrl+Tab switch shortcut ofcourse though right?

    You can add Google Translate to iGoogle, but you need to open the iGoogle page then every time or go to it, focus on it and do your search. This might seem awkward at the beginning, but just use it. I barely use the Search Plugins now. Read this older post for more details and examples.

    I dont know about you, but I find mouse using time waster.

  • maryam

    nope I love keyboard shortcuts, LOL, I alt+tab too

    In both case you need to open the browser, my iGoogle is my home page and translator is the top left gadget.

    Besides, I like iGoogle especially with my new Tomb Raider theme

    But I’ll try your way, just to compare the feeling ;D

  • Bashar

    maryam: It works for more than that. For all sites, Google, Google News, IMDB, Amazon, YouTube. I dont hit the search plugin box a lot.

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  • Anonymous


  • talljoanne

    Just to say a big thanks! This works in Chrome as well and is MUCH BETTER than the buggy translate extensions which don’t work.

  • Bashar

    talljoanne: yeah it is useful and works in Chrome. I disabled the translation extension :)

  • Multilingual Regulatory Compliance


    I am a regular visitor of as I am looking for Multilingual Solutions for my knowledge and always been benefited by the useful content you post on every interval and I really appreciate you for this.

    And expecting the same kind of useful information keep sharing between us in the future also.

  • Anders

    Hi! Good tip!

    I’ll add that you can also enable automatic language detection by setting source language to auto. The url then becomes|en|%s
    for translating from a detected language to English.

  • Bashar

    Anders: Yeah that is cool as well :). I didn’t know how to use it, thanks

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  • smith

    This is no longer working for FireFox 5.0

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  • Thingywhat Whatt

    Old post… Though I just recently came across it.

    A while ago, you could set “sl=auto” and translate any text (Or URL) from the autodetected language into your target language… Though Google appears to have inadvertently removed that. (Which is why I decided to search the topic, and ended up here.)

    So, here are my findings:
    With some experimentation, I found out that the mobile version of Google translate works just fine, so now I have a “gt” (Google Translate) keyword pointing to “”.

    Now things like “gt ” works as expected, and so does “gt “.