Things you may not have noticed about Yahoo! Search Assist

One of the awesome things about getting to work on Yahoo! Search Assist is that I got to toss a few extra little features in there just for myself. I haven’t seen these mentioned in the press or blog coverage, possibly because nobody’s noticed them yet.

Quick access to the search box

On, the cursor is automatically placed in the search box when the page is loaded, but on the search result page, we don’t automatically give focus to the search box because that would prevent you from scrolling using the keyboard.

So, what if you want to edit your query without moving your hand all the way from the keyboard to the mouse to click on the search box? Well, now it’s easy: after the page loads, just press tab. Voila, cursor in search box, ready to edit, no mouse necessary.

Quick access to the Search Assist tray

By default, Search Assist isn’t displayed unless you appear to be having difficulty deciding what to search for. It does this by analyzing your typing speed and noticing when you pause longer than usual. Sometimes, though, you want to see suggestions right away without waiting. You can use the mouse to click on the little arrow beneath the search box, but that requires more pesky hand movement. Luckily, there’s another option.

When the cursor is in the search box, you can simply press the down arrow on your keyboard to expand the tray. If you decide you don’t want the tray after all, hit the escape key to close it again. As has been mentioned elsewhere, you can also use the arrow keys to select suggestions and concepts.

Mouse wheel scrolling

If you’re a mouse person and aren’t fond of having to click the tiny arrows to scroll the lists of suggestions and concepts, just move your cursor over the list you want to scroll and use the mouse wheel. When the cursor isn’t over a suggestion list, the mouse wheel causes the entire page to scroll, but when the cursor is over a list, the mouse wheel only scrolls that list.

A little something extra

I can’t take credit for this one, but it’s one of my favorite new features nonetheless: Yahoo! Search goes up to 11. Google only goes to 10. You do the math.