Ever since the "New Search" was introduced, it was apparent that it would eventually supplant the "Old Search" completely. That time hasn't come yet, but it may be approaching. To their credit, Ancestry has been improving the "New Search" user interface and the search algorithm.
I looked at "New Search" again today, and found some interesting things, including the Hot Keys (introduced in October 2008 - see Anne Mitchell's Ancestry.com blog post here). Let me walk you through some screens.
In "New Search," when I click the "Search" button on the top of the Ancestry home page, this screen appears:
The Search box has entries for Name, Birth, Death and Collections. The user can check the "Exact" boxes for each criterion. On the left side of the screen is a list of the major collections. I like all of that (I really like Search boxes and links that make my path to a desired database easier).
For this demonstration, I want to search Census Records for Isaac Seaver, born in 1823. I clicked on the Census and Voter Lists link and this web page appeared (two screens shown):
I can input my target person in the search box - I entered Last Name = "Seaver." I clicked the "Search" box and the Search results came up (two screens):
I want to narrow my search to a specific person - Isaac Seaver born in MA in 1823. I could click on one or more of the items in the "Refine Search" box on the left side of the screen near the top of the page. That involves a click for each item, and entry of the revised search parameters.
n = New Search
I used this Search box to change my search parameters - I chose First name = "Isa*" and Last name = "Seav*" and added a Birth Year = "1823" with a +/- 2 year range. I clicked the "Exact" box for all three parameters. The capability to select "Exact" for any of the search parameters was added last year also. I love the flexibility of it - no other database provider has this flexibility as far as I can tell.
I selected the 1900 US Census from the list, and there were two matches. I could run my mouse over the "View Record" link for each one and see the "Preview" for that record (shown below):
Instead, I could have typed the Hot Key = "p" (without the quotes) and seen the Preview of the first record. I tried to find a way to see the Preview of the second record using "p" but it didn't work for me. I tried to use the Hot Key = ">" (meaning Shift and >) to highlight and to see the preview of the next record and that didn't work. What did work was typing the "." key - the lower case of the > symbol. Likewise, the "," key moves the highlight and the preview to the previous record (rather than Shift and <).
The Hot Keys work well, and should be very useful for all researchers using the "New Search." Now that I've figured them out, I will use them extensively, since I love Search boxes and have not liked the "Refine Search" process on "New Search."