Firefox: Search or enter address now displayed in address bar

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 17, 2013
Updated • Feb 17, 2013

When it comes to interface design it is important to name interface elements properly so that users of the program or service know what they are supposed to do. Mozilla has modified Firefox's address bar information in recent time on multiple occasions.

You may remember that Mozilla engineers made the decision to remove the favicon, the little icon identifying websites that you visit in the browser, from the address bar so that it is only displayed on the tab instead. The tab is also the only location where you get to see part of the page title, unless you look at the source code of page information.

The removal of the favicon on the other hand is not the only change. Mozilla also removed the http:// protocol from the address bar and the trailing slash. Other protocols are still displayed when you load them, https or ftp come to mind for instance, but the one that is most used is no longer displayed.

Why did they do that? It appears to improve focus of the web address, which by the way is also displayed different than before. The browser is highlighting the main domain only now while everything else is displayed in lighter colors.

If you are using the latest Nightly versions of the browser you will notice another change, one that you may consider a minor one. Mozilla changed the hint in the address bar field from "Go to a website" to "Search or enter address".

search or enter address screenshot

The core reason for the change is to let users know that they can not only use the address bar to load websites, but also to type in search terms to search on the Internet. I do not think that Mozilla is preparing to remove the separate search form from the browser anytime soon, which some may think it plans to do because of the new wording.

While it is definitely a good idea to remind Firefox users that they can search from the address bar, "address" may not be the most appropriate term if you consider Mozilla's previous changes made to the taskbar. If the company thinks that many of its users need help identifying the domain name and should not be confused with protocols and trailing slashes, then why would it use address and not website. Address is certainly the appropriate technical term but since it is technical, it may not be the best to use in this context.

Oh, and if you want to change the address bar search provider, read this how to article to find out how you can do so.


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  1. paul said on January 26, 2022 at 9:25 pm

    my eyes focus on the search and address bar area. looking up to the very top of the page is a very annoying waste of time. it is not much time but it interferes, EVERY TIME I start to type… poof it pops up to the top of the page. it throws my concentration off EVERY TIME.

  2. Ismoil said on January 18, 2020 at 1:43 am


  3. lulu beel said on May 28, 2015 at 2:05 am

    i hate that search or enter bar thing it is really anoying

  4. Plaggo said on May 30, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    Please, is there a way to remove the text “Search or enter address” in the address bar? I don’t want it to be shown, before entering an URL.

    1. Luis said on May 30, 2015 at 3:45 pm

      No, there isn’t.

  5. Caspy7 said on February 18, 2013 at 3:44 am

    What exactly makes you think Mozilla is *not* planning to merge the search and address bar given this change? I’m curious.
    In related news have you seen screenshots (or run builds) of the new Australis theme? The future UI of Firefox? It has no separate search bar.
    This rather makes me think that Mozilla just might merge the two.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on February 18, 2013 at 3:55 am

      There is no official confirmation either way. While it is certainly possible that newer versions of Firefox will use the one input field for searches and entering addresses just like Chrome does, it has not been confirmed yet that this will happen.

      And if it does, there will likely be an option to add the search bar back to the address bar. If Mozilla does that, they should consider the state of a user’s browser prior to the update that introduces the change.

  6. Kamil said on February 17, 2013 at 7:11 am

    The good thing about search box is that it has its own history:) I can remove history data from Histrory, but searchbar stay untouched until I remove history from it too separately.

    Its a good move to point out that ppl can search via Adressbar. When i sometimes read people sometimes complain why they cant search via Adressbar ;)

    1. Anonymous said on August 16, 2016 at 12:09 pm


  7. fokka said on February 17, 2013 at 6:41 am

    i don’t even know when they changed what since i’m always jumping around release channels, but i haven’t been using a seperate search-box for years so that i have a simpler ui and i’m able to see more of the url at a glance.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on February 17, 2013 at 7:10 am

      I’m also only using the address bar and not the search bar in Firefox.

  8. Ficho said on February 17, 2013 at 5:17 am

    Nothing is changed in PaleMoon.Firefox is my second browser.

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