Put the focus on URLs in Firefox's address bar - gHacks Tech News

Put the focus on URLs in Firefox's address bar

Most web browsers display suggestions when you start to type in the browser's address bar. These suggestions are matches found in the browsing history, bookmarks, open tabs, and also online results.

Some browsers display them in the order URL and then title, while others began to put the focus on the title and not the URL.

While that may make it easier for some users to identify what a page is about, it leaves the door open for all kinds of issues.

Since titles are not restricted in any way, nothing is keeping sites from using titles that don't describe the content they are offering. In worst case, sites may be using titles that fake popular sites to get you to visit them.

Firefox and Safari are known for this, while Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome prioritize URLs before titles when you type in the address bar.

It is unclear why Mozilla or Apple display suggestions in this way, but likely because the companies believe that this makes it easier for users.

If you ask me, it is making it harder to make sure that you will land on the site you want to land on. Not only do you have to read the title, the URL is displayed in a smaller font size as well.

How Firefox displays suggestions

The following three screenshots show how Firefox displays suggestions. The first screenshot how it is done in Firefox Stable currently, the second how it will be soon, if Mozilla does not change its mind.

firefox 48 url titles
Firefox 48 Stable
firefox title before url
Firefox Nightly new layout

Put the focus on URLs in Firefox's address bar

The following screenshot shows how address bar suggestions look like after adding some CSS magic to Firefox. Note that the width of the browser window and the length of the title determine the space URL information is displayed in.

firefox urls before titles
Firefox modified URL before Title

There are two options that you have to make the change. The first is the easier one, but it requires that you install the Stylish add-on for Firefox first.

Once done visit the Userstyles website and click to install the Firefox Autocomplete Prioritize URL script.

Firefox will display URLs before titles from that moment on. Apart from that, it makes sure that both URLs and titles use the same font size.

The second option that you have is to apply the changes of the script to the userChrome.css file directly. The advantage of this method is that you don't need to install Stylish for it.

  1. Load about:support in Firefox.
  2. Click on the Show Folder button on the page. This opens the Firefox profile folder on the hard drive.
  3. Open the chrome folder. If it is not there, create it.
  4. Open the userchrome.css file in the chrome folder. Again, if it does not exist, create it.
  5. Visit https://userstyles.org/styles/131235/firefox-autocomplete-prioritize-url and click on the "show css" link on the page.
  6. Copy all information to the userchrome.css file. Note: make sure the first line @namespace url(http://www.mozilla.org/keymaster/gatekeeper/there.is.only.xul); exists only once at the top.
  7. Restart Firefox.

Now You: Do you prefer titles or URLs?

Summary
Put the focus on URLs in Firefox's address bar
Article Name
Put the focus on URLs in Firefox's address bar
Description
Find out how to change the display of suggestions in Mozilla Firefox's address bar so that URLs are displayed before titles are.
Author
Publisher
Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. hani said on August 10, 2016 at 12:24 pm
    Reply

    Hi,

    What about if you fill in the search bar for example firefox.beta.51?
    does it still give you an error page? because firefox does not accept (.) dots in the addresbar, unless it follows with a .com and so on.

    What it should, it should show google search or any other preferred search that you have setup. Chrome, safari are doing it good. I don’t use edge/internet explorer, so I can’t say about those browsers.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 10, 2016 at 12:32 pm
      Reply

      Simply append a ? in front, and Firefox accepts it.

      1. Tom Hawack said on August 10, 2016 at 4:25 pm
        Reply

        I ignored that. Good to know. Up to now I’d quote such searches in the urlbar. ? is far better.

    2. ronaldo said on July 31, 2017 at 5:26 am
      Reply

      NO NO NO – you are all wrong!
      There is some menu with a two-choice radio buttons that allows you to “put focus in address bar” or “put focus in search bar” BUT, I can’t find it. I actually changed it this afternoon and it worked fine for a few hours. Now the damn thing is back to the search bar and I can’t find the choice box with the two choices.

      That’s what people want for help!! Where is that damn box so I can put the focus back to the address box????

  2. Jed said on August 10, 2016 at 1:11 pm
    Reply

    I’ve got the latest style of urlbar in the latest stable Firefox somehow, I’m on Firefox 48.0.

    1. Xi said on August 11, 2016 at 7:30 am
      Reply

      Yes, the new style is enabled in FF 48.0 and later.

      @Martin: Pls change the first image to reflect 47.0.1 and not 48.0 stable.

      The comments are mainly supporting URLs should be first. However. it isn’t user friendly. Here are the reasons:
      1. When locating something, it is the title which gathers results and not the URL. For example, if trying to locate Trojan targeting POS Terminal article from Dr.Web stored in bookmarks months/years earlier, we won’t find it easily. Since the url is “https://news.drweb.com/show/?i=10127”
      2. Some might include phrases or code names or words in Title/Description to highlight or identify links from bookmarked items, it’ll be a trouble locating. Also, the future of address bar image would confuse much more if the Title or url is much shortened in drop-down.

  3. Anon said on August 10, 2016 at 2:16 pm
    Reply

    Applying the CSS in userChrome.css doesn’t work.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 10, 2016 at 3:01 pm
      Reply

      Worked fine when I tested it. Are you using Classic Theme Restorer or another add-on that might interfere with the display?

      1. Anon said on August 10, 2016 at 6:08 pm
        Reply

        I’m not using any addons that alter the UI (other than e.g. adding their own buttons).

        I was surprised by this article, because I had already tried applying it through userChrome.css and it didn’t work. I tried again with same result. Maybe I’ll test with a fresh profile later today.

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on August 10, 2016 at 6:22 pm
        Reply

        Can only say that it worked in my case. I only tried it in Nightly though and not Firefox stable.

  4. Khidreal said on August 10, 2016 at 4:11 pm
    Reply

    it’s not viable you just take a bit of care, you read the title as it’s supposed and than you read the link? I always do that, being firefox, chrome, Opera, or others. usually if the link comes first than the title I know what page I will land by reading the link, but if the title comes first and link after, I read the title and than the link. I don’t have a specific answer to why I read the link, I supposed it’s because I only work with links (eg: if I want to come to ghacks I write ghacks.net, facebook > facebook.com, etc), so I don’t search facebook on google or the address bar than I look for a suggestion that says “welcome to facebook”, all my browsers automatically autocomplete with .net or .com or other, and I always know if it’s the right site or not because I know the website’s full link.

    I think it’s silly to don’t look at the address if you ask me, there are sooo many sites out there that you search “buy sony vegas” and you go to a site titled “buy sony vegas here” and than inside the page it says “related software to “buy sony vegas” “, ofc, this is just an example.

    I think neither mozilla neither apple have to make changing the address bar suggestions a priority, I mean, users only have to change their habits, that’s all.

  5. Tom Hawack said on August 10, 2016 at 4:21 pm
    Reply

    Because I’ve set my Firefox search behavior to bookmarks only :

    // url bar default search behavior History and Bookmarks (0) – History (1) – Bookmarks (2)
    user_pref(“browser.urlbar.default.behavior”, 2);

    I prefer to have the title displayed first. I always shorten my bookmarks titles so having them displayed at the end bothers me when, short and first viewed, remind me immediately the site.

    Concerning the title some sites give to their pages I’d like to emphasize on the absurdity of mistaking a description with a title. How often do we not encounter, as the page’s title, what it is related to, what it performs, before the actual name of the site. Absurd.

    A site’s name (main page) is SiteName => that page should be named Sitename (with possibly a very short description) and not 80 characters of desciption – Sitename

    A site’s following pages concern a given subdivision? Call that page SiteName – Subdivision (with possibly a short description).

    This absurdity is a pain and validates the idea of prioritizing the url over the title in the browser’s urlbar. But since I limit my urlbar search to my own bookmarks the argument doesn’t apply here.

  6. pd said on August 11, 2016 at 5:22 am
    Reply

    I wanted to like the new style which for me appeared with version 48. It’s good to have the full width available and aligning the title aside the URL makes the list shorter in height and thus easier to manage/read.

    However you’re absolutely right, URL should be first.

    Thanks for finding and publicizing this fix so quickly and helpfully. My blood pressure thanks you as well :)

  7. Xi said on August 11, 2016 at 7:33 am
    Reply

    Why is my comments missing just after posting? I just posted “#comment-3954305” However, it is not even shown for editing. In Firefox 48-what is new thread too, I posted a comment and it is not visible.

    If I try to re-post, it shows already posted similar content, duplicate comment error.

  8. Chris said on August 11, 2016 at 12:09 pm
    Reply

    I like the emphasis on titles. URLs are often gibberish – they are not made for human consumption after all.

    In fact, the awesomebar has been one of my favourite features ever since it came out: for many websites that I visit often, I don’t even bother with bookmarks – I just type a few letters in the bar, and the website I want to visit is generally the top suggestion.
    With Chrome, the results are not as good (perhaps they can be tweaked, I haven’t looked at it).

  9. Xi. said on August 11, 2016 at 1:02 pm
    Reply

    Yes, the new style is enabled in FF 48.0 and later.

    Martin: Pls change the first image to reflect 47.0.1 and not 48.0 stable.

    The comments are mainly supporting URLs should be first. However. it isn’t user friendly. Here are the reasons:
    1. When locating something, it is the title which gathers results and not the URL. For example, if trying to locate Trojan targeting POS Terminal article from Dr.Web stored in bookmarks months/years earlier, we won’t find it easily. Since the url is “news.drweb.com/show/?i=10127”
    2. Some might include phrases or code names or words in Title/Description to highlight or identify links from bookmarked items, it’ll be a trouble locating. Also, the future of address bar image would confuse much more if the Title or url is much shortened in drop-down.

  10. Seseorang said on August 13, 2016 at 11:07 am
    Reply

    Well, I disabled the online suggestions in my Firefox, so it really didn’t affect me, So, I prefer title first. For easy crawling of my history and bookmark.

  11. Jeremy Halliwell said on August 13, 2016 at 11:53 am
    Reply

    Another option is to use this extension, which I’ve used ever since the not-so-awesome bar was introduced to keep the urlbar as it was in FF3:

    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-GB/firefox/addon/old-location-bar/

  12. Ben said on August 16, 2016 at 6:27 pm
    Reply

    This is exactly what I was looking for!
    Already had Stylish installed, took me 2 clicks to make sense out of my address bar again!

    Perfect! Thank you!!

  13. Ray said on August 29, 2016 at 10:55 pm
    Reply

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