Turning off search in the URL bar of browsers
#353 Henry, Monday, 28 August 2017 10:38 AM (Category: General)
(Tags: search browser firefox chrome)

I have old habits formed from long ago. I have strong likes and dislikes. I often feel out of step with modern computing and modern development and modern web practices.

Many years ago, the Firefox browser changed their URL bar to be both a place to type in a URL and a place where you could type in search terms. It irritated me a little, but I coped. I still have the search bar to the right of the URL bar. I type URLs in the URL bar and most of the time they autocomplete. I type search terms in the URL bar and they search. Lately, it's been bugging me that when I type some terms in the URL bar, the autocomplete doesn't work and it searches on it, and I end up with a Google page of search results. If it happens once in a while, I ignore. But lately, it started happening far more frequently. It started happening enough to trigger my "how can I turn this off" reflex.

Then I remembered that Chrome has a similar issue. They have a URL bar and it's a search bar and URL bar combined, and I have even more problems with this. I was backtracking frequently. And then there's the privacy issue. Sometimes I just want to go to a URL and not let Google know about it. Using Chrome, that's probably futile anyway.

So on the weekend I got triggered enough to do something about it. I searched for ways of turning it off. Yes, I used Google search to find out how to turn off search in the URL bar.

For Firefox, these are the steps.

  1. Bring up about:config
  2. Search on keyword.enabled
  3. Toggle that to False.
  4. Then use the URL bar for URLs and the search bar for search terms.

Chrome is more difficult. You only have one bar to serve both URLs and search. I ended up adding a new search engine, and then making it the default.

  1. Click on the three vertical dots at top right "Customize and control Chrome".
  2. Then choose Settings.
  3. Choose Manage search engines.
  4. To the right, below the default search engines, click on ADD.
  5. Add a new search engine, with Null for both Search engine and Keyword, and http://%s in the URL.
  6. Scroll down to the bottom, and click on the three vertical dots to the right of that entry, and then select Make default.

So now the URL bar is only for URLs. If I want to search, I have the home button turned on, and google.com set as my home page. I click on the home button, then search in there.

So that eases my irritation.