Mozilla to improve Firefox's search interface in Firefox 43

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 22, 2015

Mozilla began testing a redesigned search interface for its Firefox web browser back in 2014. The big change was the addition of search engine icons in the interface that allowed you to quickly switch to another installed search engine without leaving the interface.

While you could so something similar before, for instance by assigning keywords to search engines to search on them from the address bar directly, it made the option more prominent in the browser and improved it for touch devices as well.

The organization implemented a similar search interface on Firefox's new tab page.

Firefox users who disliked the change could set to false on the about:config page to undo it. This preference however will be removed in future versions of Firefox which leaves add-ons to restore the original search interface once that happens.

Mozilla plans to improve the dedicated search field in Firefox 43 by adding right-click context menu options to listed search engines.

firefox 43 search improvements

When you right-click one of the search engines in Firefox 43 and later, you get the following two options:

  • Search in new tab.
  • Set as default search engine.

The first option loads the search results in a new tab in Firefox instead of the current tab. Options to do that were available previously as well, as you could hold down Ctrl before clicking to launch searches in a new tab from the search field.

Another option is to set the preference to true if you want searches to always open in a new tab in Firefox.

The second option allows you to quickly change the default search provider in Firefox. You had to click on "change search settings" previously to change the search provider.

Doing so opens the Search preferences in Firefox where you can set a new default provider, enable or disable search suggestions, and perform other search related configurations.

Closing Words

The change to the search interface is not a major one but it may improve the handling of it for some users who make use of it.

Especially the option to change the default search provider quickly can be useful as it is not only used in Firefox's search field but also in the browser's address bar. (via Sören Hentzschel)

Mozilla to improve Firefox's search interface in Firefox 43
Article Name
Mozilla to improve Firefox's search interface in Firefox 43
Mozilla plans to improve the dedicated search field of Firefox in version 43 by adding two right-click context menu options to search engines displayed by it.

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  1. S said on January 28, 2016 at 9:00 am

    Mozilla, it appears, is adopting the Google dictatorship mentality – change for change sake, forcing idiotic ‘new’ crap that nobody wants and nobody asked for and then not allowing end users the ability to get rid of their new crap and go back to what worked just fine before they started meddling with things.


    Time to look for a new browser that has nothing to do with bloody Google OR Mozilla.

  2. KAS said on January 18, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    I HATE the new search. I do security and had my search a custom way to search against security sites such as ones that list caught spammers IP’s to block on forums and check scam site hosting. I can’t do it with the new search. Luckily I found which showed me how to get my search back the way I like it.

  3. Guhl said on December 20, 2015 at 1:29 am

    what a piece of s**t
    now I have to click 5 times to get my results just cause of some retarded overpaid manager thinks this is any good. Yeah its just a few clicks more, but if you have to do that 15 times each hour… thanks, thanks but NO.

    Please fire that idiot that approved this useless thing. Cant you see the angry ppl all over the net?
    Lets see opera…

  4. justafinn said on December 19, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    This is an utter failure. I want to go back to 42 or will switch to Chrome unless this massive design flaw is repaired.

  5. Ngar said on December 19, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    I hate this new searchbar – I want the old version back

    Why to the hell you always change things WITHOUT the option to disable the new feature

    I guess I need a other browser, every update something annoying is happened and I need to search for a fix or addon to disable these fucking new “feature”

    1. S said on January 28, 2016 at 9:04 am

      You and me both, Ngar. Mozilla is getting too big for it’s britches, just like Google did, and now they think it’s cool to force pointless changes on users. As I said below, they’ve adopted the Google dictatorship mentality,.

      Well, users can turn their backs on Mozilla just like many of us did with Google.

      They should think about that – if arrogance hasn’t completely taken over their senses.

  6. Djax said on December 18, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    I dislike that browser. search. showOneOffButtons = false doesn’t work anymore.

    I don’t like the search matrix, because it is harder to recognise a little icon than the icon + the label.

    It is even harding when you have search engines that have the same icon (, )

    The list vision is easier to use with a mouse.

    Please restore the list vision

  7. tinman said on December 18, 2015 at 1:07 am

    I have a great idea, why not make it customisable, have a setting so you can get rid of the drop down box. Surprised no one has thought of this before. Such a simple and innovative solution.

  8. Momber said on December 17, 2015 at 2:29 am

    Someone needs to fire the idiots a Mozilla. All of them.
    I’m rolling back to v42 and I’ll be looking for a different browser.
    I’m so furious.

  9. Tim said on December 16, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    This new search bar gives me the impression it is designed for a touch-interface, because it does a terrible job at what it’s supposed to do with a mouse! The distance i have to move my cursor has been increased and i need to mouse-over in order to identify what language search i am using!! Are you an internationally minded company, Mozilla?! Because you’re probably making many people furious with this crap for now reason.

    If the goal of Mozilla is to cherish this new technology (touch-interface), please bring out a separate product called “Firefox touch something” and give me back my previous search bar. Rest in piece: totally fine, decade-approved and convenient piece of UI.

    It’s a BROWSER, not a freaking lifestyle!! Make it work, make it simple. It doesn’t have to look nice!! And stop being idiots!!

  10. Stan Williams said on December 16, 2015 at 8:09 am

    I have different versions of DuckDuckGo filtered on region/language. The same goes for Google. returns different results for a given search than so you need to use the country/language specific version to get country specific searches. The new search UI makes it difficult to see which of the six or so DuckDuckGo or Google icons is the one I want to use at a give moment. You have to hover over the icon to see which one it is. Brilliant! With the old search I can give one icon the title Google DE and another Google SE and easily see which one is which. Even without resorting to alphabetical sorting.

    Is it too much to ask for Mozilla (and all other tech companies for that matter) to consider that their users might just speak and use more than one language in their daily life? It beggars belief that tech companies STILL do not understand multilingual regions or behaviours!

    Yes, Classic Theme Restorer has restored the old search box behaviour for Firefox 43 (for now) but why should we bother any more when Mozilla seen to be hell bent on making life difficult for us?

  11. Nils Hart said on December 15, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    Why did you ruin the search feature again!? I liked the old style with the drop down icon with the name. i.e. The classic list of search engines in a column by alphabetical order. What am I supposed to remember what every icon means? At least give us the option when in your arrogance you want to force things upon us. Plus I liked it how you could select a search engine and keep using it until you selected another.

  12. xhafan said on December 15, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    Use ‘Classic theme restorer’ add-on v 1.4.4, go to options, General UI (1), check ‘old search (experimental)’

  13. derloopkat said on November 17, 2015 at 9:24 pm

    I hate one click features and they come back again in every new FF version. All I want is the classic list of search engines in a column by alphabetical order, not these icons in a grid, because some web site have no icon.

  14. Pants said on September 26, 2015 at 12:13 am

    “Mozilla to limit Firefox’s search interface in Firefox 43” – FTFY

  15. Fena said on September 23, 2015 at 4:15 am

    Sorry but I agree firefox is more and more bloated and instead of being a leader now let’s copy others. A shame really. Back when it was called netscape it was the best aol killed it now they kill themselves. Writers here say use something else.. like what; ie never, opera used to be good no longer, chrome is a joke and all the other wannabees also just copy each other. Young-ones here love tiles, I hate tiles. Young-ones love the f word the c word I do not but it’s a new generation. I like clean, fast, private with NO social media and no history. That’s just me. Comments are IMHO

  16. Anonymous said on September 22, 2015 at 11:00 pm

    I agree.

    You might be interested in the “Focus Keyboard” add-on which takes focus to the location bar as soon as you start typing, obviating the need for typing ‘alt-D’ first.

  17. Jeff said on September 22, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    My search method has always been to set up keyword searches and just search directly from the address bar.

    e.g. to search Wikipedia, I type ‘alt-D (to jump to the address bar), then ‘wp [search term]’, to search the Oxford dictionary, I type ‘d [search term]’, etc. Seems a lot easier than fiddling with that search box.

    1. AnotherBill said on September 22, 2015 at 11:04 pm

      I agree, I use keywords for a lot of special site searches.

      BTW, you might be interested in the “Focus Keyboard” add-on. It switches focus to the location bar as soon as you start typing, obviating the need to type ‘alt-D’ first. You just have to make sure that the cursor is not within a text box when you start typing.

  18. not_black said on September 22, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    >This preference however will be removed in future versions of Firefox which leaves add-ons to restore the original search interface once that happens.

    Just fucking great. Fucking cuckzilla is ruining their browser version after version.

    1. strath said on December 19, 2015 at 8:42 pm

      thank you. agree entirely.

    2. asides said on November 4, 2015 at 8:07 pm

      Yup, this is a total cockup. The “one click” buttons interface wastes room, requires extra clicks to do the same thing as before and gives you less information.

      You have to waste time hovering over buttons till a text popup appears to figure out what they are if you use custom searches from multiple sites. You should never need to use a hidden right mouse button click in order to set the default search engine, it should simply use the last search engine you used. You shouldn’t have to enter text, then navigate through an interface before you get to search some site other than the default for a small subset of searches…

      It’s just a horrible piece of GUI, it’s slightly prettier than the old search bar, but becoming way over-designed in an attempt to try to fit back in the same functionality as the basic and simple thing that it replaces. A GUI element that’s 99% hack (no matter how much time has been invested in it’s development) should trigger warning bells about poor workflow elegance.

      1. randy said on December 18, 2015 at 8:40 am

        Agreed, I hate the “one click” junk. Mozilla, stop forcing UI changes onto me!

    3. DonGateley said on September 22, 2015 at 10:33 pm

      @not_black: Go away.

    4. Jeff said on September 22, 2015 at 5:19 pm

      “[Mozilla] is ruining their browser version after version.”

      You can count on seeing this comment every time there’s a Firefox article on here.

      I just wonder why people with such a strong dislike of Firefox don’t simply use a different browser and move on.

      1. Nebulus said on September 23, 2015 at 12:56 pm

        @Jeff: Not everyone that dislikes the direction that Mozilla is going hates using their browser, so there is no reason to switch to another one. Even more, I’d say that a lot of what you might perceive as “haters” actually like Firefox, but they are afraid that the browser they like will change into something bad or unusable. And if that happens it would mean that the only choice that remains is between browsers you don’t like…

      2. Caspy7 said on September 23, 2015 at 1:48 am

        > Palemoon is a great option for Windows

        Um, no. Palemoon is an old fork that’s getting worse with age.
        Some forks are smart, they just flip switches here and there, make some easy changes, and mostly build from Mozilla’s source. But Palemoon has diverged so far from Firefox’s codebase that they can’t keep up with changes. They are on an old version of Gecko (which they changed its name) and are likely missing fixes for security vulnerabilities.
        Beyond it’s potential for becoming a walking security vulnerability, there was a comparison that bgr did of the different browsers. Of the various benchmarks tested Palemoon came in last place (or outright failed) for all of them except one.

      3. fokka said on September 22, 2015 at 8:07 pm

        @robert regarding “social bloat”: disable it, hide it or simply don’t use it. it doesn’t make firefox a worse browser and you don’t have to use it.

      4. LimboSlam said on September 22, 2015 at 7:13 pm

        What I don’t get is how some users complain about Firefox not being what it used to be, but then someone else offers up a solution (anther browser alternative), they get all bent out of shape and start defending their browser (Firefox) they just got done insulting or complaining about!??

        What a bunch of hypercritices!!

        P.S. @Robert, there is a Linux version available here: and why don’t you just use a different PDF reader that is compatible with Pale Moon, like PDFxChange or something.

      5. Robert said on September 22, 2015 at 6:57 pm

        Seriously considering it again. Palemoon is a great option for Windows but but the Adobe Acrobat extension was not compatible with it so I went back to Firefox. Firefox is full of social bloat now. Also I am wondering if their is a Palemoon fork in Linux I can migrate to.

    5. Sören Hentzschel said on September 22, 2015 at 1:20 pm

      That is not the news. It was always clear that the old search bar will be removed at some point. Mozilla replaced the old search bar in Firefox 34 for the en-US version, in Firefox 36 for all locales. Firefox 42 still has the old search bar. It’s a long time for a temporary option. But that’s not the topic of this article. Topic of this article are improvements of the new search bar. It’s always the same: Mozilla does something and immediately someone thinks it’s cool to start the next shitstorm, even if the news are improvements. It seems to be cool to be against Mozilla. But one thing: it’s not possible to take someone seriously with such a offending language.

      1. rabby said on December 21, 2015 at 9:11 pm

        this so called improvement,will set you back
        And before you grasp it they improve it again.
        Why not make a contest,who is faster with good and ímproved.

      2. E. said on December 18, 2015 at 5:31 pm

        It’s not an improvement. That’s why I kept the old search bar, because it was more efficient (less clicks for same results).

        And it’s completely possible to take someone seriously who uses “offending language.” How immature do you have to be to actually care about that

      3. Mystique said on September 22, 2015 at 6:49 pm

        It all a matter of opinion really and weather or not the entire new search engine by design is an improvement on the old is debatable. Firefox has always catered to such a diverse range of people and now as they progress they are try to pigeon hole everyone neatly into this one size fits all bracket which simply does not work.
        I have no doubt that as time goes by and as sure as Mozilla stays on this path there will be a entire wrath of complaints, simply stating that others should move onto lesser browsers (yes, lesser!) is not the answer nor is making Firefox an overly simplistic lesser browser.

        We all have our opinions on the matter and as spirited as we get about it perhaps dropping the F bomb is not the way to go about it.
        At some point I will personally have to give the new search engine style another try as to try to keep an open mind on the situation.

      4. Nebulus said on September 22, 2015 at 3:47 pm

        The change that Mozilla proposed to the search interface is OK, IMO. And I am also aware that they probably want to get rid of the old code and that is the reason they want to remove the option to revert to the old style search. But the thing is that Mozilla is behaving like this a lot lately, and it is hard not to see this last change as a new reduction in user’s choice and as a continuation of their over-simplification of the browser…

  19. David said on September 22, 2015 at 10:32 am

    I like the one-off buttons. Those and the animated download button are the most positive UI changes Mozilla has made recently.

    1. ed said on December 14, 2015 at 2:15 am

      Will Mozilla ever fix the bookmark search?

      The search finds bookmarks, but can’t find folders. This is a real issue for users who have large bookmark files like me. At last check, 23 meg and growing.

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