Firefox's Search Box future unclear

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 9, 2017
Updated • Jun 10, 2017

Mozilla plans to ship Firefox's new interface Photon, out with Firefox 57, without a search box for new users of the web browser.

Mozilla notes however that the search box won't be removed entirely in Firefox 57. It remains visible for existing Firefox installations where it is displayed on, and remains also an option in the customize menu so that users who want to use it can add it to the main Firefox toolbar.

Update:  Some commenters have pointed out that the newsletter does not indicate that Mozilla consider to remove the search box entirely from Firefox. I re-read the article, and have to admit that this is the most likely explanation.

Mozilla's reasoning for the change is summed up in the latest Photon Engineering Newsletter #5.

The location bar now can do everything the search box can, and more. So at this point the search box is a vestigial leftover from how browsers worked 10+ years ago, and we’d like to remove it to reclaim precious UI space. Today, no other major browser ships with both a location field and search box.

firefox search box

Lets take a closer look at the claim. It is true that neither Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, or Microsoft Internet Explorer ship with a search bar. In fact, all three of the browsers don't support an extra search box.

Other browsers for Windows, Vivaldi or Opera for instance, ship with search box functionality, but it is turned off by default. Some stats on how many users of these browsers (in percent) activate the search box would be useful in this regard.

It should not really matter however what other browser developers do or don't do. That's where the second part of the argument comes into play.

Mozilla wants to "reclaim precious UI space" by removing it. This is understandable, as the UI is used not only by core navigation buttons and the address bar, but also by a growing number of icons that are either placed by extensions there, or by the Firefox browser natively.

If you check out the screenshot above, you will notice that the icons on the address bar take up more space than the search bar, and about the same space as the address bar.

Three of the icons have been added by extensions, the remaining icons are default buttons of the Firefox browser.

Firefox offers better controls than Google Chrome when it comes to toolbar buttons. Google Chrome users may move the buttons to the menu only for instance, while Firefox users may remove them entirely from the browser UI.

The future of the search box in Future

Mozilla runs user studies right now to understand better how users of the browser search, and to make sure that Firefox's location bar matches the search needs of the user population. The organization launched on-off search functionality recently for instance in Firefox's address bar for searching using non-default search engines.

The organization does note however that it discusses internally what to do when it comes to the search bar for existing users.

Photon won’t be removing the search box entirely, you’ll still be able to add it back through Customize Mode if you so desire. (Please put down your pitchforks and torches. Thank you.) We’re still discussing what to do for existing users…

The last sentence may make Firefox users nervous who use the search bar, because, what is there to discuss? Mozilla states that it won't remove the Search Box entirely when Firefox 57 comes along, so that new users may add it to the browser, and existing users will continue to have access to it.

While it could mean disabling the Search Box by default for existing users of the browser as well, it could also mean considering to remove it entirely from Firefox at once point.

The latter seems more likely, especially if the user tests come to the conclusion that the functionality provided by the location bar replicates the core functionality of the separate address bar.

The next paragraph can be interpreted in that way as well.

There’s a trade-off between proving a fresh, clean, and modern experience as part of the upgrade to Photon (especially for users who haven’t been using the search box), and removing a UI element that some people have come to expect and use.

Closing Words

I have to admit that I don't use the search box in Firefox as I run all my searches through the location bar (using keywords for the most part if I need to run a search using search engines that are not the default).

I'm pretty sure that there will an an outcry by users who use the Search Box if Mozilla decides to remove it entirely. There is the question whether that is worth it, or if it would make more sense to keep the option if the cost of maintaining it is not unreasonably high.

Firefox's Search Box future unclear
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Firefox's Search Box future unclear
Mozilla plans to ship Firefox's new interface Photon, out with Firefox 57, without a search box for new users of the web browser.
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  1. Earl said on June 12, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    Back when I still used Firefox, the search box on the New Tab page worked an awful lot like the search bar (not box) in question. As much as Mozilla pushed the “AwesomeBar”, I only used it for URLs and “searching” (filtering, actually) history. TBH, though, I’d go to Google (or Bing or wherever) to do web searches.

    So, is this Photon as in “light” or as in “torpedo” (Star Trek)?

    1. Tom Hawack said on June 12, 2017 at 6:54 pm

      True, but as far as I remember (I’ve abandoned Firefox’s New Tab to replace it by my own), it was rather cumbersome to modify the default search engine in use with it.

      >”So, is this Photon as in “light” or as in “torpedo” (Star Trek)?”
      I’d say it’s mainly to sound nice!

  2. q. said on June 11, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    Two years ago Martin wrote a piece on this very issue and the FF road map for its future. At the time I commented:

    “…Classic Theme Restore has allowed search management post-Australis. What will happen, vis-a-vis choice, if/when navigation and search are merged?

    And what the hell is driving the ferocious dynamic propelling FF devs to destroy its foundations and turn it into a consumerist toy? Perhaps we would all be better served if a simplified interface were developed, a la VLC, maintaining the fundamentals and development of the last 10+ years, but still providing newcomers easy entrance and a path to a learning curve. After all, the thing that drew us all to evangelize for FF was security with configurability. FF allowed us to run like we were wearing broken-in running shoes. The current iterations are like trying to sprint in ski boots.”

    What we are experiencing is not an apocalyptic collapse, but a protracted anguished slide into mediocrity and inadequacy.

  3. q. said on June 11, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    The “development” team will not rest until Firefox, as we have known, loved and proselytized it, is absolutely, assiduously, completely, comprehensively, definitively, entirely, exhaustively, fastidiously, fully, fundamentally, incalculably, methodically, outright, painstakingly, roundly, scrupulously, thoroughly, totally, unconditionally, unequivocally, unremittingly, utterly, wholly and to the hilt with a vengeance dead.

    1. A different Martin said on June 11, 2017 at 3:06 pm

      Okay, so the Firefox development team is the Terminator, but is Skynet Mozilla? Or is it really Google?

      1. q. said on June 11, 2017 at 10:28 pm

        Neither an enslaving institutional death regime nor undefeatable indefatigable cyborg killing agent. Just a cluster of clueless clowns stepping on their own dicks.

    2. Tom Hawack said on June 11, 2017 at 12:45 pm

      I love it when I’m not the only way to make it long!
      Contemplating the style sometimes may enable forgetting the story, as the rhythm the melody, as the colors the painting. I lack superlatives, I’m done!

  4. TianlanSha said on June 11, 2017 at 8:58 am

    I dont understand why they would keep the search box but switch the righ click context menus back/forward text labels with those horrid distracting and aesthetically unappealing icons. Its like they’re saying “we know whats best for you” but they they get all jittery when users complai about the possible removal of the search box and decide to leave it as an option for now. I dint wanna be editing CSS files just to get the old context menu back.

  5. Clairvaux said on June 11, 2017 at 2:46 am

    On a slightly unrelated note, speaking about search, here is a search engine I like :

    It has a very welcome serious, scientific-looking interface, contrary to many ; and it’s privacy-oriented. It’s a meta-engine, in fact. It aggregates results from others. You don’t need to hunt options in hidden places, like you have to do in Google. They are right under your nose.

  6. A different Martin said on June 11, 2017 at 2:09 am

    I like having an independent search bar. Sometimes I hang on to a search-bar string for a little while and go back and edit it or change the search provider. I do use some quick “keyword” searches from the location bar, but increasingly often they don’t work. (Try Google Translate or Bing Videos, for example. If you can get those to work, tell me how you did it.) But generally, I search from the search bar. Ctrl-l takes me to the location bar and Ctrl-k takes me to the search bar. I have the Searchbar Autosizer extension installed, so if the search bar string is taking up too much toolbar space and I no longer need it, I hit Ctrl-k (or if I’m in Gmail ctrl-l and then ctrl-k) and then Delete. Easy peasy.

    Addendum: Searchbar Autosizer doesn’t seem to work in Firefox anymore. It does work in Pale Moon.

    Note: In both Pale Moon and Firefox, I’ve moved most of my toolbar buttons to the menu bar, so there’s a lot more space for the search bar to “rob” before it starts becoming a problem. But I’m guessing that when Classic Theme Restorer goes away, that will no longer be possible in Firefox.

  7. Clairvaux said on June 11, 2017 at 1:00 am

    Re: Firefox for smart people, vs. Chrome for the unwashed masses.

    There’s actually a very advanced user out there, an IT professional with many years of practice under his belt, who believes the best browser for super-duper hackers is… Internet Explorer. Provided you configure it properly.

  8. wybo said on June 10, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    I only use the searchbox. I also find it handy because I use several search engines. I enter the search word(s) and then the plus symbol to pick from the drop down menu which SE I want.
    Don’t laugh but I even didn’t know their was another way of searching. Oh dear.

  9. kstev99 said on June 10, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    Firefox is abandoning its users and becoming more of a Chrome clone with every release. The fact that 90% of current addons will not work with future versions and now this. I have switched to Waterfox and Classic Theme Restorer. The search bar may not be useful to many, but I use it quite regularly and the direction that Mozilla is steering this browser is quite disturbing.

    The ONE thing that made Firefox stand above the others, CUSTOMIZATION, is becoming a thing of the past and I’m afraid it will soon meet the same fate as Netscape which I used years ago

  10. Third Eye said on June 10, 2017 at 1:32 pm


  11. Lee said on June 10, 2017 at 10:54 am

    (cent)(cent) never used it never needed it always removed it

  12. Anonymous said on June 10, 2017 at 8:47 am

    More like “Firefox’s future unclear”

  13. beemeup4 said on June 10, 2017 at 7:58 am

    Pale Moon will always have a search box next to the address bar. Users can move it or remove it if they so choose, because valuing user choice is the Pale Moon way and no other browser to date takes this philosophy as seriously as Pale Moon.

  14. Gerard said on June 10, 2017 at 4:36 am

    Please calm down. It’s a search box not a Vespa.

  15. David said on June 10, 2017 at 3:27 am

    I always use the search box, and never use the location bar for searching (though I do have a couple quicksearch keywords for dictionary and thesaurus searching).

    I dispute the claim that the location bar search is just as good as the search bar. In particular, the location bar does not bring up suggestions for alternate providers, and not necessarily even suggestions for the main provider. It’s more difficult to get to the one-off searches (requires a confusing usage of ctrl-arrows, instead of just tabbing). You can’t change the default search provider. It loses the recent search value (so you can’t re-search on small modifications). And the most convenient thing that it *does* add — search through history and bookmarks — fails completely the vast majority of the time.

    Now, I don’t use the search bar as extensively as I used to. There was a period where I made extensive use of all of its advanced capabilities, but I’m no longer doing the work that required that. That said, I will not ever give up my search bar. It has too much real, superior use over the location bar search.

  16. DangerAgain said on June 10, 2017 at 1:52 am

    i cant say iv’e used the Search Box in Years, so i wouldnt miss it if it dissapears

  17. Clairvaux said on June 10, 2017 at 12:27 am

    How do you select your search engine if you want to search from the address bar ? Right now, I have 10 search engines in my search box, and I also have the very convenient “Add”. Of course, that box is way too small, since it competes for space with the address bar.

    1. Tom Hawack said on June 10, 2017 at 12:53 am

      Search performed from the address bar wil provide the list of the user’s installed search engines at the very bottom of the awesome bar pop-up (drop-down list) as you can see on this screenshot :

      Unfortunately, two issues compared to the traditional Search Box,
      1- You cannot change your default search engine from that drop-down list,
      2- You won’t have the current site’s search availability (when applicable) such as ‘Add “”‘

      These two points are handled by the add-on I mentioned in my very first post up up above, ‘Omnibar Lite’ available at, which adds the current search engine in the very address bar, this button being as well a drop-down menu with all the user’s search engines, the choice to change to another of them with a click, and the site’s search engine if applicable, as you can see on this second screenshot:

      If it weren’t for this add-on I guess I’d miss in a certain way the traditional Search Box, and this is why I believe this ‘Omnibar Lite’ add-on’s functionality should be included in whatever version of Firefox which would have decided to remove the Search Box and consider only the Address Bar for searching.

      1. said on June 11, 2017 at 2:11 am

        Again, none of this discussion matters if Omnibar Lite isn’t around in the future to make up for the loss of the search box, should that happen. Then all we’re left with is the URL bar who’s history can disappear the next time you hit CTRL+Shift+Del and clear out your history & temp files.

      2. Tom Hawack said on June 10, 2017 at 5:22 pm

        @Clairvaux, well I guess we’ve all experienced this publication delay on the account the post was edited after having been validated. Maybe should the servers send the email notification once the 10minutes’ delay offered to the user to edit/remove his comment is over. There is also the fact that any new user email will postpone the publication.

        Anyway, glad you may now have an operational ground to compare the Search Box to Search performed from the address bar. With the add-on I mentioned, ‘Omnibar Lite’ (no, no royalties!) searching from the address bar becomes as obvious as from the Search Box.

      3. Clairvaux said on June 10, 2017 at 5:00 pm

        @ Tom

        Nice… now it works. As a matter of fact, I think it used to work at some point in the past, without me doing anything for it. So that pref might have been changed by some update.

        I also experience sometimes the strange feeling of receiving comments in the mail which have not yet been published, and yes, my understanding is the subscribing system fires off an alert before the grace period for editing has ended. You might even receive comments that would be ultimately canceled by their authors — if this is the case, maybe Martin would like to give it a look. If someone has second thoughts because he wrote something wrong or maybe offensive, it would be better if it were not broadcast by mail either.

      4. Tom Hawack said on June 10, 2017 at 2:06 pm


        I forgot to mention that in order to have the search engines appear at the bottom of the awesome bar drop-down list, browser.urlbar.oneOffSearches must be set to true (default is ‘false’) :

        // enable one-off awesome bar searches
        user_pref(“browser.urlbar.oneOffSearches”, true); // Default=false

        Why is Default=false, surprisingly? It’s false on Firefox 52.1.2 ESR anyway, not sure about FF53+
        I guess the search performed from the address bar is not considered yet as achieved by Mozilla …

        Also, the ‘Classic Theme Restorer’ well-known add-on can adjust the Awesome Bar’s layout, from the add-on’s section : Location Bar -> Autocomplete popup

        Hope that helps

        NOTE : your comments are notified to me by email subscription but are published here with a delay most likely because you edit your comments, and when comments are edited they go through a checking, which postpones their publication …

      5. Clairvaux said on June 10, 2017 at 1:36 pm

        Thanks, Tom. I don’t get the choice of search engines at the bottom of my address bar, the way it is shown in your screenshot : do you need to do something to activate that ?

        Also, you need one more add-on to replicate fully the search bar functionality in the location bar. I prefer the philosophy where everything is well thought-out and included in the software as is. That’s why I used and loved Maxthon for many years, before jumping to Opera (now Opera classic), then Firefox.

        At that time, Maxthon provided, out of the box, incredibly clever features that weren’t available in Firefox unless you slapped a bunch of add-ons on it. I think that some of those features are still not available in other browsers, and possibly even with add-ons.

        Of course, customisation is nice, and very much needed. I just believe it shouldn’t be an excuse for the lack of basic functionality in the core program. Two good examples of this are the fact that bookmarks and folder bookmarks are not alphabetically sorted by default in Firefox, and you can’t even do it recursively : sorting the top folder will not sort the subfolders, you need to manually sort by hand a thousand folders if you have that many — which is my case ; also, searching bookmarks won’t search into folders names, which almost negates the whole point of using folders. This is inexcusable.

        It’s possible that you may correct this by piling up several add-ons on Firefox — and I’m not even sure of that. In fact, I think it does not completely cure the problem. And anyway, it makes for a clunky heap of software, difficult to learn and maintain, whereas the aim of the game should be to provide something elegant and self-contained, with which you can interact naturally.

      6. said on June 10, 2017 at 9:29 am

        > ‘Omnibar Lite’ available at, which adds the current search engine in the very address bar, this button being as well a drop-down menu with all the user’s search engines, the choice to change to another of them with a click, and the site’s search engine if applicable, as you can see on this second screenshot:

        Thing is we don’t know if Omnibar-lite will be a WebExtension in the future, do we?.

        If not, then this only a temporary stop-gap unless that happens.

  18. mikef90000 said on June 10, 2017 at 12:10 am

    I’ll speak for the slower typists out there. I use the search bar because I don’t care to accidently invoke search when I mistype a URL.
    I have no objection if they KEEP it a user selectable option. What I don’t like is the Mozilla trend of removing something useful ‘to reduce maintenance’.

  19. Anonymous said on June 9, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    No one mentions suggestions? (privacy problem)

  20. Rasche said on June 9, 2017 at 9:30 pm

    There have been times where Mozilla was willing to think out of the box, being creative, taking risks. This what makes a leader a leader.

    “Today, no other major browser ships with both a location field and search box.”

    Well, today they are a follower, going full mainstream only, spitting on user choice and options and customization as a whole to be a perfect match for the rookie users. Mozilla lacks vision and creativity today as they are only running behind Google Chrome with the goal to take over it’s user base :D

    I could laugh if it would actually not be that sad. Well, luckily i have uninstalled Firefox already when the first signs of where their journey would lead them towards have been starting to become visible.

    On my machines there is no place for lame copy-cats!

  21. All Things Firefox said on June 9, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    I use the search bar with the set to true. This is quicker than opening a new tab and searching from there.

  22. Installer said on June 9, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes but I think it’s simply ludicrous to consider this a problem.

    1. Tom Hawack said on June 9, 2017 at 7:21 pm

      I agree !! Every time Mozilla changes Firefox, a lot of the posts turn into Mozilla bashing. Get a life folks. A browser is just a means to find Web content. The world isn’t going to end !!!

      1. Tom Hawack said on June 11, 2017 at 11:14 am

        @Appster, I read your posts and observe your exasperation concerning the development of Firefox in the perspective of its infamous version 57 announced for next November 2017.

        Generally speaking, I believe it is essential to distinguish exasperation, revolt from so-called bashing. I believe you’re revolted, like many of us are, and I don’t consider your comments as bashing. Bashing is, IMO, a systematic undocumented series of kicks. A critic is illustrated by arguments, a constructive critic includes moreover counter-propositions, and, finally, I don’t agree with the idea that a critic, if not constructive, should not be expressed : sometimes solutions just don’t appear to exist, or at least in our perception of the problematic. Also, beware of a political correction which would mistake critic with bashing : if you explain it is NOT bashing (so, please, do always explain).

        Once this distinction acknowledged, I’ll repeat that the Firefox development route is a true problematic (and as such recovered by true “bashers”), that I share my exasperation with those who express it more clearly than I, but that I wish not to take the risk of being blind by excessive revolt :

        First, because of life itself which only is entitled to we wrapped with passion when a browser, a computer, whatever their importance in today’s world, should remain considered for what they are, no more and no less;

        Secondly because I wait and see and meanwhile my philosophy is “carpe diem” (enjoy the moment). I’ve switched to Firefox 52 ESR, sure I have, I’m aware of realities but at the same time I prefer to proceed calmly rather than to shift now to what I may shift to tomorrow.

        Thirdly because I’m not sure that any other browser on the market would fit better my needs than Firefox, should it be Firefox 57! : listen, if we, each one of us independently of the quest for a universal truth, if I compare what browsers offer (all of them) to what I wish they provide, I remain, maybe not blocked but at least in a strong doubt attitude when it comes to considering an alternative to Firefox, even coming 57!

        So, yes I agree on the fact that Firefox is on the wrong road to heaven, I believe that other browsers may be on the right road but to hell, and I wish to remain in a certain observation attitude,for the time being a Firefox user free of its developments in the perspective of FF57 (hence Firefox 52 ESR). I’ll say my word as always but I’m very committed to the idea of a certain restraint, also because I believe there is a global curve of the Internet, of the networks as of the tools (applications, software) and that Firefox is driving as others. Some will argue that the specificity of Mozilla could have, should have entitled the company to drive differently. I agree it should have but I’m not sure it could have.

      2. Appster said on June 11, 2017 at 9:52 am

        @lehnerus2000: Tom Hawack pretty much wants to discuss these changes in a neutral and somehow enlightened, matter-of-fact way. What would be the result, however? The conclusion essentially remains the same, with or without sugar-coating things. As for myself I refuse to discuss these losers in a manner they just don’t deserve anymore.

      3. lehnerus2000 said on June 11, 2017 at 3:48 am

        “I agree !! Every time Mozilla changes Firefox, a lot of the posts turn into Mozilla bashing. Get a life folks. A browser is just a means to find Web content. The world isn’t going to end !!!”

        So you’re saying that Mozilla should be lauded for their stupidity, instead of berated?

      4. Appster said on June 11, 2017 at 12:15 am

        @Tom Hawack: Well, it’s no overreaction. I need add-ons like Tree Style Tab because actual work needs to get done over here. It makes sense to arrange tabs according to their context, especially in scientific areas. I won’t use Firefox without a fully functional Tree Style Tab. Same goes for Tab Mix Plus and CTR.

        Also, it’s a question of principles. Mozilla has ruined Firefox, so users shouldn’t reward them by continuing to use a product which offers zero advantages over the competitor. The only way you can punish someone who offers you a free product is by choosing to not make use of it at all.

        Furthermore I find it quite astonishing what some people here are willing to accept. Sure, we can’t realistically do anything about it, but still we don’t need to call the pile of shit on our head a nice hat, do we? Sorry for this somewhat rude language, but sadly enough that’s the way it is with some people posting here.

        As you can see I’m totally fed up with Mozilla by now. Their product is neither faster nor will it be more customizable than Chrome once version 57 hits. Basically useless, so to speak. I will continue to use it until version 56 and will enjoy it while it lasts, but after that I will jump ship to either Pale Moon or Waterfox or Vivaldi (possibly all three).

      5. Tom Hawack said on June 10, 2017 at 12:01 am

        @ Appster, I’m not sure of whether TJ or I should answer, but considering I approved his comment I’ll make the following very much mine (I wonder if TJ will approve!).

        I agree with you, as well (looks like I’m agreeing a lot today), but being lucid, if we are, means being lucid for the good as for the less good, even if, especially when the good (as we perceive it) seems to be a drop in an ocean of mistakes, as you describe them, as I and many if not most Firefox users agree. I think the very scope of this article, the possible removal of the Search Box, is a positive point, that’s how I feel it and that’s why I say so.

        But, above all, I also believe that we shouldn’t over-react on what is no more than a browser, which is why I endorsed TJ’s comment, feeling the words as fresh water in a desert. I over-react myself quite often, mainly when I like, not to mention when I love. Passion. Passion for a browser named Firefox with which we’ve spared quite a deal of time. Maybe that taking a distance by means of a recall to the real values of life is a way to better live what we fear of Firefox’s future, like in real life with a person you believe is bound to leave you, or you, her.

        That’s the philosopher! But, yeah, fundamentally, I can only agree with you. Meanwhile, that is until the day — if that day arises — of a separation with Firefox because it will have chosen to run after the lights of Broadway rather than follow the countryside’s morning colors, meanwhile why not enjoy what remains, still, of the Firefox we knew, and applause when we appreciate one of its last smiles?

      6. Appster said on June 9, 2017 at 11:11 pm

        @Tom Hawack: The Mozilla management should really think about why the user base is now this mad at them… Mozilla used to have a vision in the past, a vision of a more private and open web. They successfully brought down the Internet Explorer monopoly by offering a slick, feature-rich, private, and customizable browser. How much of that is left? Firefox feels rather bloated nowadays, while losing more and more features at the same time. Instead of useful features like the add-on bar, tabs on bottom, small icon mode etc. useless bullshit like WebRTC, DRM (open web… yeah) and Pocket is being added. Customization is also a non-priority today. The crippling began with Australis, but in the form of CTR at least there was a fix at hand. Photon is the final blow. Almost nothing can be changed about the browser, and it’s almost a 1:1 copy of Chrome. WebExtensions are a pathetic joke. This is why neither in terms of speed nor in terms of functionality makes it sense to use Firefox today. Privacy? There are privacy-oriented Chromium variants out there as well, so not even that is an argument.

        Of course Mozilla vs Google is a David vs Goliath fight, but they shouldn’t sacrifice all what they represent just to get into the good graces of Chrome users (won’t happen anyway). They virtually gutted every reason to use Firefox, a once great browser, and thus their disgruntled users don’t cheer for them at all. Logic. The last tiny bit of credit they deserve goes to maintaining an engine other than Blink. But then again, due to Chrome’s dominance of the market no new web standard could ever be introduced without the consent of Google. So Mozilla is more of a follower rather than a leader regardless. They used to be visionary, but now they are by all means poor losers. Former Mozilla CTO Andreas Gal has something to say about the loser attitude at the Mozilla headquarters:

        “If even Eric–who heads Mozilla’s marketing team–uses Chrome every day as he mentioned in the first sentence, it’s not surprising that almost 65% of desktop users are doing the same.”

        Yeah, that’s the Mozilla of today. Deal with it and don’t blame disgruntled former users for “bashing” (= listing all the bad decisions this organization has made in the past and present) the losers.

      7. Tom Hawack said on June 9, 2017 at 9:16 pm

        @TJ, I was under the effect of automatic writing so I knew, I felt the comment wasn’t mine :)

        I’ll say it now to not have to confess it religiously : I received the comment via email notification, noticed it wasn’t published (yet), found it so precisely conform to what I believe and could have said that I imagined it would be more honest to copy/paste it than to change a word here and there!

        I was wrong (copying it, not agreeing!). I won’t do it again, promised :)

        Far more French than philosopher, but I do appreciate the compliment!

        Long live life, a great week-end to all, and sorry, Martin, for my intrusion :)

      8. T J said on June 9, 2017 at 8:49 pm


        I posted the comment above. Don’t blame Tom Hawack our favourite French philosopher :)

        NB double post. One for me and one for Tom.

    2. T J said on June 9, 2017 at 7:12 pm

      @ Installer

      I agree !! Every time Mozilla changes Firefox, a lot of the posts turn into Mozilla bashing. Get a life folks. A browser is just a means to find Web content. The world isn’t going to end if features are changed !!!

      1. said on June 10, 2017 at 9:00 am

        Seriously, @TJ not everybody is you. Leave the Search bar in there for those who want it, and hide it for those who don’t. I find the search box indefensible in my daily usage of FF, so you don’t speak for me.

      2. svim said on June 9, 2017 at 11:08 pm

        I’m not bashing Mozilla but I do find things like this to be annoying. I use the Search box frequently, several times each hour. I work in IT and part of my workflow depends on it as I instinctively rely on that as a constant. Re-adjusting muscle memory requires an active process so while you may have no interest in the feature sets of any browser, for a lot of us it’s a significant topic. Of course it’s not the end of the world but just because it’s not an issue to you that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s just a trivial issue to everyone. There are undoubtedly things in your life I could care less about, that doesn’t mean I’m telling you to ‘get a life’ or being dismissive in any way but at least I understand that everybody will have different things that are important to them.

  23. happysurf said on June 9, 2017 at 6:49 pm

    I agree with Mozilla choice, never used the search box.
    Is much better do everything with location bar.

  24. Richard said on June 9, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    Whenever I install Firefox on a new computer, which I do regularly, I customize the UI.

    I remove the Search Bar and the Pocket icon. I make some tweaks. I enable Options > General > “When you open a link in a new tab, switch to it immediately”. I also switch the default search to Google, leave Bing and DuckDuckGo, but remove the other search engines. I also install uBlock Origin Add-on.

  25. Firefox user from the days of Firebird said on June 9, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    What is next “oh we noticed that most of our users just use their bookmarks, so to save few pixels of your small 4k screen we removed the ancient address bar”
    As a user who likes to search things not just from Google, but from many other sites too (few wiki based fan sites) search box serves real purpose even if address box can do same things too.

    1. Jody Thornton said on June 10, 2017 at 2:09 pm

      It’s funny you say this. My bigger worry is that most users just use apps (instead of web sites). Perhaps phone makers and mobile OS vendors will just dispense with the classic notion of a browser altogether. This depends on how fast companies decide that websites are no longer valuable to their market strategies.

      However, enthusiast sites or special interest sites and forums may continue to exist, but even they are flocking to Facebook (so maybe not in the long run)

  26. Rick A. said on June 9, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    i use the search box once in awhile. i don’t even use the Location bar for search. i just open a new tab and search directly from that search provider. it’s just as quick. i have a search folder on my bookmark bar, i just drag the search provider bookmark from the folder to the tab bar, it opens and i start typing, it’s just as quick. And on top of that some of my search bookmarks have certain settings in the URL of that bookmark like my DuckDuckGo bookmark, i even have a cloud save DuckDuckGo bookmark. So this will not effect me. i have some of the settings URL bookmarks for Startpage and ixquick as well but don’t really use them as i don’t like the forced proxy URL search results and when i open them in a new tab. i’ve tried and searched how to open it using a normal URL but i don’t think it is possible.

  27. Tony said on June 9, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    Mozilla: “Today, no other major browser ships with both a location field and search box.”

    Mozilla used to be a leader. Now they are a follower. They are a company with a great and noble history, yet a questionable future.

    Imagine a vehicle manufacturer saying “All of our competitors make vehicles that get poor mileage, so we will do the same.”

    I’m not saying a search bar is a good or bad thing, I’m saying that Mozilla’s statement regarding it reveals a sick corporate mentality.

    Personally, I find the search bar useless unless combined with a powerful extension like the defunct QuickSearchBar by QuickSaver.

    1. Rasche said on June 15, 2017 at 12:59 pm

      @Jody Thornton.. Sure, Mozilla has a reason. Greed.

      You can either be non greedy and be happy even if you only have a smaller amount of expert users available

      Or you can be greedy, abandon all that users, make a 180 degree turn and go full commercial and mainstream in the hope you can actually beat the number one competitor in the same game… Simple and minimalistic.

      But… that hardly ever works out for the imposter. Opera tried the same, they had the same goal. Are they now number one? No, they are far away from that. Even more bad, they lost a lot of good reputation and loyal users.

      The thing is if you are delivering to another user base, a 180 degree turn is the worst you can do.

      It is all about greed and hunger for influence. And that is utter stupidity.

      Also, Yahoo gives only money, they have ZERO influence in the development process of Firefox. There is only one who is making the decisions for Firefox. And that one is Mozilla.

      And they make decisions for a useless and futile reason. To beat Chrome in becoming more Chrome styled than Chrome.

      Greed and infinite hunger for influence ruins booth commercial companies and also Open Source projects like Mozilla.

      One should expect that Open Source developers have a more reasonable mind instead of the company next door, but Mozilla is the perfect example that greed and stupidity/ignorance also can infect also a so-called champion of the web, like Mozilla used to be one in the past.

    2. El Goopo said on June 9, 2017 at 10:14 pm

      They’re merely “following” because they still have a dedicated search bar? What about the things they don’t follow on, like web standards and their own URL bar’s functionality? I guess it’s easier to make broad, sweeping statements that sound good when you ignore the big picture, but let’s not go nuts here. You can twist anything to sound more negative than it really is.

      1. Jody Thornton said on June 12, 2017 at 12:21 am

        @rasche says:
        This is all a decision Mozilla made on their own for the worst possible reasons one can have. Also, a joint-stock company has no reason to ask for donations. Mozilla instead has! So, if you do not know about what you are talking, please inform yourself in the first place!

        Well no need to be snarky. At the end of the day they still have stakeholders. Management figures still make a salary out of the Mozilla Corporation. Yahoo has a co-operation with them, and I’m sure there must be hidden monies that trade hands, let’s not be naive or idealistic here.

        And for reasons that may not even be known to us, it may be to their benefit to make sweeping changes. Perhaps it will be easier to maintain code, so that less financial resources need to be deployed on development. So who knows, even you might need a bit of an education to keep yourself informed. There’s got to be a reason the appears beneficial to them. They want to chew away at Google for some reason.

      2. Appster said on June 11, 2017 at 4:47 pm

        @Clairvaux: Proving that there was no respectless undertone by being overtly respectless helps a lot. Just for your information: I laughed my arse off about your pitiful attempt to provoke me. I bet you could do better still… Why not clutter it with insults so that nobody notices how few you have said about the actual topic. Of course I could retort now, but seriously it just ain’t worth it.

        By the way, you obviously failed to understand that I did neither want nor had the authority to forbid you to talk about everything which happened before browsers were invented. I was just saying that it adds nothing to the discussion, at all. It’s like talking about cave drawings when assessing a Dalí painting.

        If you like the person in question so much, why don’t you just ride into the sunset with him? I wouldn’t begrudge you even in the slightest. Having been a Moz Rep is officially part of his CV (he even cites it at his own blog), so it is by no means an insult. Perceiving it as such is reading between the lines a bit too much. I only wanted to hint at him not being as neutral as he likes to portray himself. Nothing more, nothing less.

      3. Clairvaux said on June 11, 2017 at 2:11 pm

        Ooooh, so the respectless undertone is showing, eh, Appster ? I’m so sorry Your Excellency was offended. I had not realised you were some sort of royalty here, who could pretend to be insulted just because someone said “believe it or not”.

        I also now understand that Your Highness has the privilege here of delineating exactly at what historical date the discussion has to stop. We are discussing a web browser, so of course it is verboten to talk about what happened before web browsers. How inappropriate of me.

        Could Your Lordship give me a private means of communication with Him, so I could ask for permission in advance, next time I plan to broach a subject ? Not with Your Lordship directly, of course ; that I wouldn’t dare. Maybe one of your menservants would be kind enough to provide me with his email or somesuch ?

        A commenter who built a habit, here, of trying to insult repeatedly another commenter by calling him “former Mozilla representative” possesses an internal radar so sensitive, that he can detect “respectless undertones” where there are none. In other commenters, of course. How ironic.

      4. Appster said on June 11, 2017 at 5:29 am


        > Believe or not, personal computing existed before the Internet.

        Yeah, and? We are discussing a web browser here, so this is not relevant to the discussion at all. The respectless undertone is showing as well, Clairvaux.

        > There’s a market for mass users, there’s a market for advanced users, and there’s a market for everything in-between.

        Sorry to say this, but comparing digital products like browsers to cars etc. does not make any sense. Why? Because website administrators will look at the market share of a browser (more specifically: a browser engine) before even considering to support it. If you develop an obscure browser with an obscure engine your users will see a lot of breakage when using it. Idealists claim that websites are browser-agnostic, but really they aren’t. This means in order to receive proper support you need sizable user numbers. Power user are only a very small group of people by definition, so you definitely have to target simple users as well to remain visible. Or you choose to use an engine of a browser many simple users use, sort of like Vivaldi does it with the Blink engine which normally can be found in Chrome. But doing your own thing entirely won’t work the way it does with cars. A small car manufacturer can survive even if a decision is made to use an own, self-developed engine in the car. A small browser developer can’t survive without using a mainstream engine, that’s why this comparison simply doesn’t work. You either target the simple users (or piggy-back on a browser that does) or fail.

        > Besides, the digital market is specific inasmuch advanced users, early adopters and similarly-minded individuals drive innovation, which then trickles down to the mass-market.

        OK, but how can you explain the rise of Chrome then? Nothing too advanced can be done with the browser since its very inception, yet it does rule the web today. The simple users are perfectly fine if you do a little marketing and if your product is idiot-proof. Another myth – “power users who spread the word.” Nope, I think not.

      5. Clairvaux said on June 11, 2017 at 12:48 am

        @ Appster

        “There never was a time – ever since the Internet went mainstream – where there were more advanced users than simple users. It’s a myth.”

        There was a time where all users were advanced users, because it was simply impossible otherwise. Believe or not, personal computing existed before the Internet. And Internet, when it started, was bloody difficult to use, and very much an advanced users affair.

        Anyway, this does not take into account the fact that in digital technology just as in any other market, there are different client needs, and different targets. Some people drive Bentleys, and then some people drive mopeds. It’s useless getting into a fight by saying : hey, most people drive mopeds, so nobody needs Bentleys anyway.

        There’s a market for mass users, there’s a market for advanced users, and there’s a market for everything in-between.

        Besides, the digital market is specific inasmuch advanced users, early adopters and similarly-minded individuals drive innovation, which then trickles down to the mass-market.

      6. Appster said on June 11, 2017 at 12:32 am

        @Tom Hawack: It’s the users, obviously. You seem to fall for the myth of Firefox being a power user browser. In fact, Internet Explorer was just extremely bad back in the day, and everybody desperately hoped for a superior browser. Then Firefox came around, which was faster than Internet Explorer. This does NOT mean, however, that all of the users who switched to Firefox were power users. I doubt that more than 5% of the user base have ever used Firefox in a advanced way or did something special to it. Firefox’s user base primarily consisted of simple users at any given time. The people writing here at gHacks are non-representative, because this is basically a tech site. Chrome just gave those users a new opportunity to switch, as it was in turn faster/simpler than Firefox. End of story.

        So the generation conflict is only existing in your mind, but not in reality. There never was a time – ever since the Internet went mainstream – where there were more advanced users than simple users. It’s a myth.

      7. Rasche said on June 10, 2017 at 4:48 pm

        @Jody Thornton Mozilla is no joint-stock company – There was actually no reason why there would be a need for throwing out all customization features.

        This only has done to gather simple users. And to damage Chrome. Exactly what Opera did too.

        Take a look to VLC Player… Do they throw out tons of features to become a simple mainstream player? No.

        Or look at SMPlayer and tons of other Open Source programs. Look at Otter-Browser or Quzilla – The reason if development of a software is stopped is fully in the hand of the developer. if you are an Open Source company tons of others do the work for you – tons of volunteers.

        If an Open Source software company kills tons of features it is only because they become greedy and want to become mainstream.

        Also the reason why Mozilla does what they do. They could have decided to stay with geeks and enthusiasts – BECAUSE they do not have to care about share holders which own parts of the company. This is all done because of pure greed.

        And that is the worst shift an Open Source company can take.

        Mozilla was once a team full of enthusiasts and geeks. These days they only look desperately on Google Chrome and wonder how they can replace it in market share numbers. Who really was an enthusiast and geek has left the company long time ago!

        They are the best example when greedy leaders who take over destroy all what was once unique and special, in a futile attempt to fight with a giant about being the number one. And that is beyond disgusting!

        There are zero people outside who have that much control over Mozilla to demand “drop that feature now….. or else!”

        This is all a decision Mozilla made on their own for the worst possible reasons one can have. Also, a joint-stock company has no reason to ask for donations. Mozilla instead has! So, if you do not know about what you are talking, please inform yourself in the first place!

      8. Tom Hawack said on June 10, 2017 at 3:38 pm

        Reading @Jody Thornton and @Clairvaux I ask myself : who is responsible? Is it software companies lined on the aim of offering tailored applications in such a way that the user forgets his liberty because fascinated by the easiness of “ready-to-use” schemes, or is it the users who require more and more easiness — hence approve less and less intervention — in the tools dedicated to their relationship with the Web?

        Be the users followers or initiators I wonder as well if there is a trending difference between the older and younger generations when it comes to the very notion of liberty, when it seems to me that the leading quest among the teen-agers is far less liberty, even dignity (i.e. the “cheat-sheets”) than to have it all, now, flawlessly, ready to be swallowed. If so, given the future is that of the younger ones, I fear what tomorrows on the Web may possibly be : a world of sheep conducted by robots. I hope to mistake.

        The topic is interesting.

      9. Clairvaux said on June 10, 2017 at 1:53 pm

        @Jody Thornton

        “Now the most sizeable audience wants an easy to use browser that can be used with mobile-first, and then synced to all of their other devices.”

        Very true, but precisely : the combination of those two trends threatens what has been the basis of personal computing for decades : user empowerment. Tailoring most software and websites to the tiny screen of a smartphone, then putting everything into the cloud, takes away much needed functionality, and endangers privacy.

        Instead of being intelligent individuals maximising the power of their tools for their own needs, users turn into zombies clicking away reflexively on a digital extension of themselves, which is used by corporations to ensnare and enslave their wrongly-called “customers”.

        This is cause for concern, and we very much have the right — indeed, the duty, in my opinion — to protest against that, and try to revert the trend.

      10. Jody Thornton said on June 10, 2017 at 1:14 pm


        But these decisions only look like bad decisions to us enthusiasts. Most of the market that you want to penetrate, just doesn’t care. They don’t think of Mozilla as a leader (and never saw Mozilla as a leader the way you claim they once were); they think of Google as a leader. And if you’re a shareholder on the Mozilla board, you want the company to go after the best bet for an audience, so that you can get a more sizable return.

        Everyone says Mozilla abandoned their audience. No they didn’t – the audience just shifted. It used to be the most sizable audience wanted to be rescued from IE 6. Now the most sizeable audience wants an easy to use browser that can be used with mobile-first, and then synced to all of their other devices.

      11. Tony said on June 10, 2017 at 9:39 am

        Point taken, but you are choosing to completely ignoring the overall context. The hypocrisy!

        Mozilla used to be a leader with Firefox (and Thunderbird and Seamonkey), but has been shifting more and more into following many of the (bad) decisions made by Google and Microsoft for their browsers.

        Like a customizable browser? Firefox was your best choice. When version 57 is released, Mozilla is planning on removing most the best customization features… just like how it is in Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Edge.

  28. Ben said on June 9, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    > The location bar now can do everything the search box can
    No it cannot.
    I use the search bar for temporary notes for example. I’ve never used it for searching though, as it’s a lot easier just using like
    g abc -> google
    b abc -> bing
    a abc -> amazon
    e abc -> ebay

  29. kalmly said on June 9, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    Sigh. I ALWAYS use the search box. I do NOT want to see it go away. Booooo.

    1. said on June 10, 2017 at 8:52 am

      I use it a lot, too.

      It sounds like for now, it could be an option that will be disabled and hidden by default. I’ve no problem with that as long as I can get to it later.

      I use the Search box all the time with custom search engines from the Mycroft project and have done so for years. Especially since I purge the browser history every so often, so those URL search results I used before are now gone.

    2. Caspy7 said on June 9, 2017 at 3:04 pm

      The uncertainty in this article is invented.
      The cited post makes it clear that the search box will continue to be available.

      1. Appster said on June 10, 2017 at 11:53 pm

        > Of course it’s possible that the search bar will be removed at some point in the future, nobody knows the future, but that’s not the topic of the cited article.

        And how is one supposed to bring it back (should it be removed) when there are nigh zero customization options left?

        > Maybe you could also write an article about the new customization possibilities and not only about (not) removed features…

        LOL, what customization possibilities? Changing the color of a button from orange to blue? There are no meaningful customization options left in Firefox 57, at least nothing like what you can do with Tab Mix Plus, Classic Theme Restorer, Tree Style Tab… So, what should Martin write about?

      2. Sören Hentzschel said on June 9, 2017 at 11:18 pm

        I agree with Caspy7, in my opinion the cited article is very clear. And there is a reason why this newsletter is called “Photon Engineering Newsletter” and not “Maybe sometime in the future newsletter”, it’s about Firefox 57 and Photon. Of cource it’s possible that the search bar will be removed at some point in the future, nobody knows the future, but that’s not the topic of the cited article.

        > The last sentence may make Firefox users nervous who use the search bar, because, what is there to discuss?

        That’s very clear in the article. Dolske says it’s to discuss whether the search bar should be enabled or disabled by default for existing users in Firefox 57. Nothing more than that was said. And of course that is something to discuss because there are good reasons to enable and good reasons to disable the search bar by default for existing users.

        I don’t unterstand how the sentence “We’re still discussing what to do for existing users […] as part of the upgrade to Photon” can be interpreted differently.

        Maybe you could also write an article about the new customization possibilites and not only about (not) removed features…

      3. Martin Brinkmann said on June 10, 2017 at 7:19 am

        Sören, I read the newsletter again, and have to admit that one can interpret what has been said in the way that you and Caspy describe it. Having read it again, I do believe now that this is the most likely intention of the author.

        I will add a paragraph to the article to highlight this point of view.

      4. Martin Brinkmann said on June 9, 2017 at 3:08 pm

        I don’t think that the article is clear on that. Yes, it will be there as an option when Photon launches, but the cited paragraphs can be interpreted that Mozilla at least considers pulling it completely.

  30. User1 said on June 9, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    There is no point for the search box unless you use an addon that separates awesomebar search from it. I mostly use awesomebar for googling, but have a lot of other search engines that I use from the search bar. It also makes searching same thing from different places quick.

  31. Mo said on June 9, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    I haven’t been using the search box for years now, I just setup keyword for each search engines I have, and do it all through the URL box.

    1. Jody Thornton said on June 10, 2017 at 1:05 pm

      Same here on Pale Moon. I tried OmniBar on it to allow search suggestions to appear in the Location Bar, but it’s intermittent on Pale Moon. But to me, the search box is just wasted real estate (and it ages the appearance of the browser too)

      1. Appster said on June 11, 2017 at 9:31 am

        @Tom Hawack: The current version of Pale Moon – Pale Moon 27 – is based on Gecko 38, same which Firefox 38 ESR utilized in the past. Only the interface of Firefox 28 was ported over to the newer platform code. Please inform yourself before claiming otherwise.

      2. Tom Hawack said on June 10, 2017 at 1:27 pm

        I guess you are referring to the ‘Omnibar Lite’ add-on and not to the original ‘Omnibar’ add-on, even if the latter, known to not work on Firefox 49+, shouldn’t be a problem with the ‘Pale Moon’ browser.

        If you are using the original ‘Omnibar’ add-on and not the ‘Omnibar Lite’ then maybe that could nevertheless explain the issues you encounter.

        Last possibility : ‘Omnibar Lite’ requires Firefox 45 and later so, with ‘Pale Moon’ based on Firefox “20-something” as far as I remember, that could be the reason.

    2. Ray said on June 9, 2017 at 8:13 pm


    3. Tom Hawack said on June 9, 2017 at 4:41 pm

      Same here. But I have added the ‘Omnibar Lite’ add-on which “[…]adds default search engine icon to the location bar with an ability to change it quickly.”, which brings a touch of easiness to the ‘Search from the urlbar” concept.

      The Search Box is history as far as I’m concerned so, for once, I won’t have to complain about Mozilla’s modifications. It’s so easy when you agree. But the point is : beyond myself is a new feature or the removal of an old one pertinent, legitimate, smart so to say?

      1. David Goofmaster said on August 12, 2017 at 8:36 am

        I too deleted the Search Box years ago.
        My Home Page is a webpage I designed with all my “Favorites” including DuckDuckGo as one of the 1st Favorite Links. When I need to do a Search {frequently} I click on the Home Page Icon to bring up my favorites. I can access DuckDuckGo without Firefox needing to know my Search Preferences.

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