Firefox 57: Search bar off by default
Mozilla plans to remove the search bar of the Firefox web browser by default in Firefox 57. While the search bar will be off for new users, existing users won't notice any difference to the previous setup as the search bar remains visible when the browser is updated to Firefox 57.
Mozilla revealed back in June that it had plans to make changes to Firefox's search bar. It came down to reclaiming interface space by removing the search bar. What was not clear back then was whether this would come down to a complete removal of the search bar, or only a visibility change.
Firefox is the one major web browser for Windows -- from a usage share perspective -- that displays a search bar next to the address bar. Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Internet Explorer don't show or support a search bar.
In fact, the majority of Chromium-based browsers don't show a search bar either; the one exception to the rule of thumb is the Vivaldi web browser which features a separate search bar as well.
The change is part of the Photon design update of Firefox 57. Check out the following coverage of Photon here on Ghacks:
- Firefox 57: new Photon design screenshots
- Firefox 57 Photon mockups: activity stream, library, compact mode, more
- Firefox Photon: new design mockups show interface, and more
- How to disable animations in Firefox Photon
The bug 1387416 lists reason and target (Firefox 57):
Move the search bar in the customization palette for new profiles
The Photon design spec calls for a unified location and search bar. We have to make similar changes as in bug 694291 at least for the new profile case.
There are experiments underway to identify the right set of profiles to receive this experience, so the scope may change a bit soon.
The referenced bug 694291 was created six years ago. It suggests to remove the search field in the Firefox navigation bar because its placement clutters the interface and is redundant because functionality is replicated by the browser's address bar. The bug references Google Chrome and its single field (address and search) layout.
Firefox users who use the search bar right now will keep the bar when the web browser updates to Firefox 57. New Firefox users, and users who create new profiles, won't have access to a search bar by default.
It is still possible to add the search bar back to the Firefox interface, for instance by using the customize menu. Mozilla plans to add an option to the browser's search preferences as well.
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