Firefox 12 Inline Autocomplete Feature
When you type in characters into the Firefox address bar you will notice that a suggestion box appears right below it. This suggestion box lists sites that you have visited in the past or bookmarked so that you can access those sites faster with just a click or the down cursor. Add-ons like Enter Select make this feature more comfortable by loading the first appearing result with the enter key.
A recent feature addition to Firefox 12 is causing some controversy among users. Firefox 12 is currently available in the Nightly channel before it moves on to the Aurora, Beta and then Stable channel. This means that the majority of Firefox users will experience the new feature - if not altered - in about 13 weeks.
Firefox 12 introduces the inline autocomplete feature in the browser which displays the first matching root url in the address bar. Firefox users can then use the enter key to automatically load the website in the browser.
The two core problems here are that Firefox is not displaying the most popular url in the address bar, and that it only looks at the root url and not page title for a match. As you can see on the screenshot above, entering the characters wi does not autocomplete to en.wikipedia.org or another appropriate hit, but to wisestartupblog, a site that I read an article once on.
One could now say that it does not really change the existing functionality, as it is still possible to select suggested results from the list with the mouse or cursor keys. The change is visual on the other hand and may irritate users who are not used to seeing entries being auto-completed. The issue that weights far more heavily is how results are selected. Instead of displaying a site that the user likely wants to visit, the first matching site is displayed. And while this may sometimes be the site the user wants to visit, it often may not be that site especially since there is no popularity check involved.
Firefox users who do not want the feature can turn it off, here is how it is done:
- Enter about:config in the address bar and hit enter to load the Firefox advanced configuration menu.
- First time users see a warning page before they can actually access the configuration.
- Filter for the term browser.urlbar.autoFill
- A double-click sets it to false, which will turn the feature off.
You can repeat the process to turn the auto fill in the address bar on again. (thanks SÃ¶ren for the tip)Advertisement