Search from the address bar

If you type words into the address bar of Mozilla Firefox, and the words do not look like a valid URL, then the words will be passed to the default search engine (Google in the case of Firefox) as search terms. For example, a string such as ‘whodat.dere’ will be parsed as a domain name to be resolved, but ‘whodat dere’ or just ‘whodat’ will be passed to the search engine.

I generally use the privacy-respecting search engine at How can that be made the default search engine so that words accidentally typed into the address bar do not get sent to Google? Easy! In the address bar, enter about:config and confirm that you understand what you are doing. Search for the preference name (i.e., the entry) called keyword.URL. Double-click on the preference name. When Firefox asks you to enter a string, type and then click OK. It also makes sense to change the entry called to Startpage but, so far as I can tell, that is a purely cosmetic change.

The default search engine can be set to anything else you want. For example:





3 comments on “Search from the address bar

  1. Andi says:

    A million thanks for this easy explanation – was bothered by this but did not know how to change it.

    Is there a way to transport search settings (E.g. Use anonymous picture search, do not filter video and results)?

    e.g. this link:

    Thanks again,

  2. Josh says:

    @Andi: Yes, keep your URL as is and add “&query=” to the end of it without quotations and without a space. Like so:

  3. mrd says:

    Nice. I notice that that also preserves the “use POST vs GET” setting, so that the search requests have less likelihood of being stored on intermediate servers.

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