I'm trying to find out what the "Quick Website Search" checkbox does technically. My guess is that it prefetches data or somehow sends my search terms to siri or another apple online processing engine, but I'm unable to locate specific documentation or files on the system that control/cache these search results.

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The help page is vague about how this works in practice and I'd like to understand the mechanism a bit more finely grained than "lets Safari record information" and instead know where that information is stored and what "searches within a website" actually means in practice.

An answer for Safari on 10.10.2 would be ideal and a practical example of how it searches within apple.stackexchange.com (which is shown in my Manage Websites list of sites that are enabled).

1 Answer 1


If you develop a website you can add a file called an OpenSearch specification that identifies the site as having searchable content.

You can see the apple.stackexchange.com OpenSearch specification here. The important bit is the following line that tells browsers the format for submitting search queries to the site.

<Url type="text/html" method="get" template="https://apple.stackexchange.com/search?q={searchTerms}"/>

The first time you visit a site with an OpenSearch specification Safari adds it to that list you can find under "Manage Websites". So if you start typing into the search bar something like "apple chrome hanging", Safari will see that you have apple.stackexchange.com in your list of quick searches and offer Search apple.stackexchange.com for "chrome hanging".

Example of Quick Website Search

Nothing to do with Siri or Apple's servers. It all happens on your own machine. It's just a way to submit searches directly to other websites instead of having to open the particular site, click in their search field and type your query there.

You can find Safari's store of Quick Website Search information in /Users/YOURUSERNAME/Library/Safari/SearchDescriptions.plist.

  • 1
    This is awesome information! I'll dig into that plist and sniff some packets to reinforce the message you are sending. Look for a check mark within 24 hours - big thanks for so fast and so excellent an answer. Now that I'm looking, my search drop down has "meta.apple.stackexchange.com" and not the main site. Down the rabbit hole I go...
    – bmike
    Mar 25, 2015 at 19:28
  • 1
    Thanks for the interesting question. And yeah, there is obviously a bit of guesswork in what sites it matches your searches up against. Funnily enough Apple don't appear to make use of an OpenSearch specification for their own website. You'd think it would be perfect for their developer site at least. Mar 25, 2015 at 19:45
  • Can users add websites to their browser's Quick-Search options, or is it dependent on the site owner to configure their site as above? I wish this worked for images.google.com.
    – 2540625
    Jul 22, 2018 at 21:56

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