Mozilla improves single-word searches and local queries in Firefox 33

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 2, 2014

When you enter queries into Firefox's address bar, you will receive results depending on what you have entered. If you enter an url for instance, Firefox attempts to load the address in the current tab.

Things are not as clear when you type in a single-word query, queries with periods or arithmetic expressions. If you take a query with a period for example, Firefox attempts to load it as if it were a url, even if it is not.

The query 8675309 returns an unable to connect error message and the query 867-5309 a search results page after some time.

I have helped myself until now by adding ? to the beginning of queries to force Firefox to search for the query using the default search engine.

This works excellent for queries with periods such as .net which results in a server not found error message if you don't prepend the question mark.

All this changes with the release of Firefox 33. Mozilla has improved how single-word and local query searches are handed in the browser.

Firefox Aurora and Nightly users can test the functionality right now while Beta and Stable users have to wait until their channel hits version 33.

firefox local queries

When you type 8675309 or 867-5309, or any other similar query, Firefox will run a search immediately without any delays.  The browser will however displays a prompt asking you if you meant to go to a locally hosted resource accessible under that name.

You can select Yes, take me to "query" to go there, or "not thanks" to remain on the search results page. The browser remembers the selection and will act automatically accordingly from that moment on.

For single-word searches, results are displayed a lot quicker than before as well.

According to Mozilla, Firefox users will see search results for these type of queries on average 5 seconds quicker than before.

Whitelist sites

Sites can be whitelisted so that they are always loaded directly when entered. Localhost is whitelisted automatically, while all other sites can be added in the following way:

  1. Type about:config in the browser's address bar.
  2. Confirm you will be careful if the prompt appears.
  3. Right-click there and select New > Boolean to create a new preference.
  4. Name it browser.fixup.domainwhitelist.WORD
  5. WORD in this case is the query that you want whitelisted.
  6. Set the preference to true and search will be skipped automatically when you enter that word into the browser's address bar.


Two cases are not resolved yet and need to be addressed. Queries will still fail if they end with a period. Mozilla will fix that issue soon [bug 1042519].

Queries with periods in the middle will also fail. Mozilla is not working on it right now, but the bug can be tracked as well [bug 494092].

Closing Words

If you compare the search results display delay in Firefox 33 to previous versions, you will notice that results pages are displayed quicker than before.

In addition to that, users will encounter less "server not found" or "unable to connect" error messages after entering queries into the address bar.

Mozilla improves single-word searches and local queries in Firefox 33
Article Name
Mozilla improves single-word searches and local queries in Firefox 33
Firefox's support for single-word searches and local queries has been improved in Firefox 33 by Mozilla. This article highlights the differences.

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  1. TheAslan said on August 3, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    I hate this feature!! How to disable it? I hate when I’m typing something and it starts to search immediately, I want to finish my sentence god damn it.

    PS: Thank god I can disable address bar search feature completely.

  2. fokka said on August 3, 2014 at 2:41 am

    hallelujah! i’ll just dust off my nightly again, until stable hits 33…

  3. Dave said on August 3, 2014 at 12:10 am

    Finally! How long did that take them to fix?

    How does Mozilla’s solution compare to my Urlbar Search Fix extension?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 3, 2014 at 9:10 am

      I have not tried it, but from what it seems, it makes it redundant.

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