Ditch The Search Box In Firefox For The Address Bar [Firefox Starter Tips]

Despite being a handy feature, the search box in Firefox is mostly unnecessary as most of its features can be accessed from the address bar. In this article, we’ll see how to remove the search box, and replicate its functionality in the address bar (also called Awesome Bar in Firefox). Before removing the search box, you should however save a list of your frequently used search engines, as detailed in a previous post.

Step 1 – Create Keywords

Before taking out the search box, we’ll use one feature to create different keywords for different search engines that you’ve got in Firefox. from the dropdown menu of the search box, select ‘Manage Search Engines…’ . You’ll able to see all your installed search engines in the new window that appears.

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Now it’s time to create the keywords. Select any search engine, click on Edit Keyword and assign a suitable keyword to it. The shorter the keyword, the better (we’ll get to the reason later). For example, the best keyword for Google will be ‘g’, that for Wikipedia will be ‘w’, and so on. Of course if there are two search engines starting with the same alphabet, you’ve got to assign a two-letter keyword to one of them. Once you’re done click OK.

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Step 2 – Remove The Search Box

There’s no more need to keep the search box. Let’s proceed to remove it from Firefox’s UI! Go to View > Toolbars > Customize, simply drag the search box into the Customize Toolbar window. I couldn’t find a good way to show this; here’s the best I’ve got :

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Hopefully you get the idea! Once you click on Done, the search box will be gone from Firefox’s chrome[1]. Hurrah! You can always bring it back by reversing what you did above.

Step 3 – Use Your Address Bar As Your Search Box

Your search box is gone, and all you’re left with the obnoxiously big address bar. Lets put it to use. To use the search box, you had to select the required search engine, click inside the box (or press Ctrl-K), and type your query. Instead of doing that, now you’ve got to enter the keyword for the required search engine followed by a whitespace and your query, in your address bar. Keeping the keywords short requires you to type lesser characters, and hence saves time. For example, if you want to search YouTube for videos of Lady Gaga, type this and hit Enter :

y lady gaga

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Of course, if you provided a different keyword for YouTube, you should use that instead. Similarly, say you want to look for the Large Hadron Collider on Wikipedia; your search query would be this :

w large hadron collider

You get the idea! The search box is no longer required, and your address bar becomes a lot more like the one in Google Chrome.


#Firefox starter tips are a series of useful, small posts that will help a new Firefox user to get the best out of the awesome open source browser.

1. Chrome refers to the user interface of any software. Every element that is present in Firefox’s user interface, together constitutes its ‘chrome’. Don’t confuse it with the other Chrome, which is actually a browser from Google. Google Chrome also has a chrome (its own user interface)! I know, it’s crazy but that’s the way it is. :)