April 22, 2007 9:01 PM PDT

Start-up adds shortcuts to Web browsing

A San Francisco start-up on Monday is expected to begin offering its users a new way to do Web browsing: customizable keyword shortcuts.

Created by a company called OpenDNS, the idea is to allow people to create keywords that point to favorite Web sites. Gadget buffs could link that word to CNET News.com sister site Crave, for example, so they would be taken there merely by typing "gadgets" into their browser's address bar.

"OpenDNS shortcuts are designed to make the address bar usable again," said David Ulevitch, the company's chief executive. The service requires creating a free account and configuring a computer to use OpenDNS.

OpenDNS works by replacing the current domain name servers that computers use to translate addresses like CNET.com into numeric addresses like The company says it offers faster browsing, automatic correction of domain name typos like .cmo for .com, and blocking of phishing sites. OpenDNS makes money through a Yahoo partnership that serves ads on pages that appear if Web addresses are mistyped.

The idea of keywords redirecting to Web sites isn't exactly new. RealNames tried to make a business out of it through a partnership with Microsoft, but it closed shop in 2002, after burning through tens of millions of dollars.

In addition, it's already possible to add keywords to browsers. Firefox comes standard with the dict keyword (try it by typing something like "dict news" into the address bar). Some Web sites even offer lists of keyword-Web site matches you can download.

The free OpenBook add-on offers far greater keyword flexibility for Firefox users, and the Opera Web browser has a similar feature.

Internet power users, in other words, already have plenty of options for keywords that point to Web sites. An advantage of OpenDNS, however, is that it can be configured for many computers at once, so a network administrator for a company or university can set up useful keywords like "hr" for human resources that will work across the entire network.

Another advantage to OpenDNS's service is that, because it's part of the domain name system, it's able to work on browsers like Internet Explorer that may not have add-ons available. In addition, Ulevitch added in a telephone conversation, OpenDNS shortcuts can work on mobile devices like a Treo that can be configured to use his company's domain name servers.

(Editor's note: OpenDNS is funded in part by Minor Ventures, a venture capital firm founded by Halsey Minor, who founded News.com parent company CNET Networks.)

See more CNET content tagged:
domain name server, address bar, shortcut, domain name, Web browser


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Why not just use Bookmarks? or Favorites?
Why not just use Bookmarks? or Favorites?
Posted by 2137457053 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
or use a commandline?
Yubnub or Sugarcodes.com already using shortcuts.
Posted by MaxDay (1 comment )
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Not the Same
With bookmarks/favorites, you have to navigate a growing list of such items and click on the one you want. With OpenDNS' service, you just type a word in the address bar. With FF, that means typing Ctrl-L, typing the keyword, and pressing Enter. With IE, that means typing Alt-D, typing the keyword, and pressing Enter.

BTW, I use OpenDNS for my systems at home. It works better than my ISP's DNS servers.
Posted by c|net Reader (856 comments )
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Bookmarks aren't the same
Bookmarks aren't at all the same.

Here are a few reasons:

1) This works on multiple computers and browsers, without having to synchronize any bookmarks files.

2) This lets you do advanced things like "cnet <word>" which would let you search CNET.

3) Remembering even a long list of quick words that shortcut you where you want to go is often much easier than looking through a list of hundreds of saved bookmarks.

Helpful? I think so.
Posted by David_Ulevitch (8 comments )
Link Flag
Horrible Idea!
I'm agahst that CNET is promoting this idea as something good.

First and foremost, this isn't anything new, duh hello it's called a HOST LIST, I can make any keyword I want on a given machine = any web site I want.

But in normal thinking, substituting or redirecting is considered a browser attack by most malware detection/prevention programs, because, DUH it is an attack of sorts.

Many viruses infect your system such that if you try to say go to www.symantec.com or www.mcafee.com etc etc you get sent to some other site.

You are advocating the mass adoption voluntarily of a system that undermines the Internet wide DNS system, without which, the internet could never have acheived the level of mass penetration and adoption that it has.

It causes me to wonder what kind of cross marketing agreement OpenDNS might have with CNET NEWS if not directly, through one of the other tenuous partnerships with major conglomerats.


Take the RED pill
because there IS a war on for your mind.
Posted by Revolutn (18 comments )
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