lookup - search the internet from your terminal


Version 0.06.


  lookup [--help] [--man] [--abbrevs] [--config-file FILE] [--sites]
         [--web-browser COMMAND] [--abbrevs] SITE QUERY


  # search google for the phrase 'perl is pretty awesome'
  lookup google 'perl is pretty awesome'

  # same thing, with abbreviated SITE g (or go, or goo, or goog
  # or ... you get the idea)
  lookup g 'perl is pretty awesome'

  # ditto, but arguments to QUERY are not quoted
  lookup google perl is pretty awesome


This is a simple command line program which lets you search the internet from the terminal. It's not exactly the most original idea out there. I personally have used various programs which pretty much do the same thing, (most of these even offer better user interface): custom web search feature in Firefox, similar feature in Quicksilver and Launchy, a fairly sophisticated command line program called googlecl, and an emacs lisp library called webjump.

But this raises quiet a few problems, namely:

  • The inability to share my own custom sites defined in one program with another.

  • Some programs are tied to a specific platform, e.g. Quicksilver on OSX, Launchy on Windows, and webjump on emacs :p. See also: problem #1.

This program offers a simple solution to said problems. It uses a plain text file configuration which you can use to add your own custom sites (and aliases, but more on that later). You can also use it to interface with other programs, see the section "INTEGRATION WITH EMACS" for an example.

By default you're only able to search with google. You can search with more sites by putting the following in the file ~/.lookuprc (see "CONFIGURATION FILE").

  bing =

Assuming that's the only thing you put in the config file (to make sure that the abbreviations don't clash), you'll be able to search with bing with either one of the following commands:

  lookup bing foobar
  lookup bin foobar
  lookup bi foobar
  lookup b foobar




The site name, which can be abbreviated as long as the name remains unique.


The query string. For convenience, the arguments do not have to be quoted/protected from the shell since the rest of the arguments (after SITE) are assumed to be the query string and eventually will be joined with the space character. These two commands work exactly the same:

  lookup google 'foo bar baz'


  lookup google foo bar baz


-h, --help

Print short help message and exit.

-m, --man

Print the full documentation and exit. Make sure to read this document if you want to add your own sites or aliases.

-v, --version

Print this program version and exit.

-c, --config-file FILE

Use a different configuration file. Default location is ~/.lookuprc.

-a, --abbrevs

List all sites with their valid abbreviations and exit.

-s, --sites

List all site names with their corresponding url and exit.

-w, --web-browser COMMAND

Specify a different command to run the web browser. By default this program uses whatever command does the module Browser::Open return to open the web browser. You can use this option to specify other command to execute.

NOTE: if you're using cygwin, you currently must specify this option (see "CAVEATS, BUGS AND TODOS").

  lookup google foo -w 'cygstart'

Other example:

  lookup google foo -w 'open -a Safari'

On OSX, the above command will make this program use the application Safari (obviously it won't work on other platforms).


You can manage user-defined sites and their aliases by putting the information in the configuration file, by default located at ~/.lookuprc (although you can change it with the option --config-file).

It uses the ubiquitous INI file syntax. Sites information should be put under the heading called [sites] and aliases under the heading [alias]. Lines that are starting with the characters # or ; are ignored. Whitespace in either the key or the value is legal.


The section [sites] is where we defined our own sites. Each item contains a pair of key and value, where the key is the name of the site, and the value is the url. For example:

  metacpan     =

This add a new site called metacpan which is associated with the url The string %(query) will be replaced with the query string supplied to the option QUERY.


Aliases let us shorten the site name, where the key is the alias name and the value is an already existing site name (this program will print a warning message if you specify an alias that doesn't point to a valid site).

Continuing from the previous example, we can shorten the name metacpan into m by putting the following lines in the configuration file:

  m = metacpan

Now we can search for module called Some::Module on metacpan by invoking the command:

  lookup m Some::Module


Here's an example of configuration file, feel free to use it as a starting point.


  duckduckgo   =
  emacswiki    = %(query)
  github       =
  google lucky =
  imdb         =
  metacpan     =
  perldoc      =
  search cpan  =
  wikipedia    =
  youtube      =


  ddg   = duckduckgo
  g     = google
  lucky = google lucky
  wi    = wikipedia
  y     = youtube



See the file etc/lookup.el. Short <screencast|> demonstrating the usage of lookup within emacs.



Ahmad Syaltut <>


This software is copyright (c) 2013 by Ahmad Syaltut.

This is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as the Perl 5 programming language system itself.