When it comes to custom search engines on Chrome, I don't joke, I don't play, I don't mess around. It is a Very Serious Topic™ that comes up countless times in our internal Android Police discussions, more often than not when I figure out yet another useful engine that can shave off precious seconds from our daily workflows. That's usually followed by a ten-minute chat about how clever that latest trick is and how I should write a book about custom search engines. Well, short of writing a long book then trying to find a publisher, here is a guide with all the tips, tricks, and smart ideas I've amassed over the last decade.
Back in February, a new version of Chrome changed the way that users activate a custom search engine in the Omnibox: instead of indicating the engine and beginning your search string with a tap of the space bar, you had to press tab instead. Long story short, everybody hated it, so Google reverted the change and tried something else. Well, the tab-to-search functionality is back ... but don't worry, it's buried deep in Chrome's Flags menu.
Chrome 88 brought some quality of life improvements like better password protection and tab search, but more and more people are noticing an unfortunate regression on the desktop version. For ages, it's been possible to add custom search engines (under chrome://settings/searchEngines), which you can invoke with custom keywords followed by hitting the space bar or tab. You could set up "acom" or "tw" for searching Amazon or Twitter right from your address bar, for example. But now, reports are popping up left and right that the space bar shortcut isn't working anymore. People are forced to use tab, making them relearn a years-old habit.