IntelliWebSearch for medical translators

I’m a great fan of IntelliWebSearch, a time-saving method for performing Internet terminology searches. Basically, it’s a series of keyboard-based macros that lets you click a word in any Windows application and go straight to a website that you’ve defined in your search settings using a short-cut. It was created by Michael Farrell, an Italian-English translator.

In medical translation it’s very useful for searching for drugs, diseases and terminology on sites such as the UK eMC, Medscape, EDQM Standard Terms or the EMA itself.

IntelliWebSearch is freeware, but you can pay a registration fee (the exact amount is up to you) to support this useful program. 

Once you’ve downloaded the application you’ll need to customise it for your own use. It comes with a lot of search settings already, so just pick the ones that are relevant to your speciality and languages, and add them to a group (you can set up five groups in all, each containing ten resources). You can use a wizard to define your own searches and if you get stuck, there’s a clear help section.

IntelliWebSearch settings

The ten searches in my default group* are:

  1. Google
  2. EMA medicine search (European Medicines Agency)
  3. EDQM Standard Terms
  4. Collins ES>EN
  5. DRAE (RAE Spanish monolingual dictionary)
  6. OUP (Oxford Dictionaries Pro)
  7. EMC (UK electronic Medicines Compendium)
  8. PubMed
  9. Medscape emedicine
  10. search
* Since writing this post I’ve added these three search settings to my default group:

Other resources that I keep in a second  group include:

  • RxList
  • Dicciomed (Diccionario médico, histórico y etimológico)
  • IATE (my search takes me straight to ES>EN, health domain, unlike the IATE widget)
  • Diccionario de Términos Médicos (RANM)

IntelliWebSearch comes with some of these search strings straight out of the box. I customised the others and added some of them to the shared database of users’ settings, where you can copy them from.

Here’s an example of how fast a search is with IntelliWebSearch. Suppose you’re translating a Summary of Product Characteristics.  You’re not sure how to translate the pharmaceutical form “comprimido bucodispersable”. In two steps:

  • Highlight the term and click Ctrl+Alt+B. IntelliWebSearch is called up with the term in the search box (see screenshot above).
  • Click Alt+3 to select EDQM Standard Terms* and the page comes up in your browser. Solution: “orodispersible tablet”


It takes a little time to define the search settings and get them working but it’s definitely worth the effort. If it all seems rather overwhelming, then you may be interested in attending a three-session course that is coming up shortly at eCPD Webinars, by Mike Farrell himself. I don’t have a business interest in IntelliWebSearch or eCPD Webinars, in case you’re wondering. I’m simply a happy IWS user. Are you?

* Read my blog post about new free access to the EDQM Standard Terms database.


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13 Responses to IntelliWebSearch for medical translators

  1. Reblogged this on O tradutor and commented:
    Já conheciam?

  2. Great. Thank you for sharing.

    Carmen Ferreiro, Ph.D.
    Writer/Editor/Translator (EnSp)

  3. Thanks for this, Emma. As I believe having said sometime earlier, I have the app and it’s sitting nice and cozy on my desktop – I just have to collect my wits and dedicate it some “thinking-time” to set it up for my usual searches, which are not medical, BTW, but I am thinking in going into this field at some time or other, being a compulsive reader of the entire leaflet that comes with most medicines..:=).

    • Hope this article encourages you to set up IWS, Nélida. I agree, package leaflets make for interesting reading, as long as you don’t start worrying about getting every single side effect that’s listed!

  4. Pingback: (TOOL) – IntelliWebSearch for medical translators | Emma Goldsmith | Glossarissimo!

  5. Thanks for this explanation Emma.I’d vaguely heard of IWS, but didn’t really know how it worked. Do you know whether it works with Trados (Studio 2009)?

  6. Ulrike says:

    Incredibly helpful! I am going to learn more later today in an eCPD webinar but this is a great start.

  7. Pingback: 9th Mediterranean Editors & Translators Meeting | Signs & Symptoms of Translation

  8. Emilio says:

    I am a freelance translator working with a couple of agencies engaged in medical issues, so I find your articles truly fascinating.

    In the last part of your interesting article about this useful function you wrote: ‘It takes a little time to define the search settings and get them working but it’s definitely worth the effort.’

    Well, being 60 year old now, I have to admit I am a complete neophyte / ignorant / illiterate / obtuse / uneducated / uninformed user in regard to program settings.

    Is there any chance that you could devote a few minutes of your time to send me a couple of examples on how to customize it, using two of your best medical websites?

    Can it be in Spanish?

    Many thanks in advance,


    • Hi Emilio.
      Try using the IWS wizard to set up searches. It works for most sites. The IWS website also has a shared resources’ section. I’ve contributed a few settings for medical sites so you might like to have a look there.
      Good luck!

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