Firefox 62: Google added to Top Sites
The next stable version of the web browser Firefox, Firefox 62, comes with a number of search related changes on the browser's default New Tab page and Home page.
Users of the browser may notice that Google Search has been added to the list of Top Sites on these pages. I don't know whether this will happen only for new Firefox installations or profiles, or whether the new Google icon will also be added to user modified Top Sites.
On Firefox Nightly, Google Search was added to the existing list of top sites. Google Search became the default Firefox search provider in 2017 for most regions after Mozilla decided to end the contract that it had with Yahoo.
The Google Search icon was placed at the very top of the listing as the first pinned item.
New search icons in Firefox 62
Firefox displays a search symbol on the icon to indicate that the particular icon is for search. Additionally, the Amazon icon was brought back from the dead and placed right next to the Google icon in Top Sites. Amazon is one of the default search engines that Firefox includes.
Firefox users can unpin or dismiss the icons by moving the mouse cursor over them, selecting the menu icon that is displayed on hover, and selecting the unpin or dismiss option from the context menu.
What happens when you click on the icon? Is the search bar activated automatically so that searches can be run from it right away without additional clicks? No, that is not the case.
Mozilla added new keywords for each of the built-in search providers. Firefox displays @keyword in the address bar so that users can type the search term to run searches right away.
The keywords are available globally so that you may run searches typingÂ @google orÂ @amazon in the address bar followed by the desired search term. Existing keywords are untouched and work just like before.
Firefox users can add other default search engines to the Top Sites listing as well. All that it takes is to hover the mouse over the Top Sites section on the New Tab page and select the menu that is displayed at the top right.
There you may select "add search engine" to do so. Firefox displays all default search engines and you may add any to the Top Sites listing by clicking on it. You can use the same menu to hide specific search engines from Top Sites.
Note that you can use the new keywords automatically even if you don't add the search engines to the Top Sites.
- @google -- Google search.
- @bing -- Bing search.
- @amazon -- Amazon search.
- @duckduckgo -- DuckDuckGo search.
- @twitter -- Twitter search.
- @wikipedia -- Wikipedia search.
The new feature is only available for default search engines and not for any other search engine that you have added manually to the browser.
Tip: You can add keywords to any search engine that you add to Firefox to run searches from Firefox's address bar using those keywords.
The addition of search engine icons adds another search option to Firefox's New Tab page. Firefox users can use the integrated search field on the New Tab page, the address bar, or the search bar if it is visible for searches already.
I don't know why Mozilla felt the need to add yet another search option to the New Tab page of the Firefox browser. The focus on Google Search and Amazon provides a possible explanation: Google is the main revenue source for Mozilla; the more searches Firefox users make on Google Search the better for the next negotiations.
Amazon is simpler to explain as Mozilla is an Amazon affiliate partner; means, Mozilla is paid whenever Firefox users buy things on Amazon after having clicked on the Amazon link in Firefox.
Now You: Good addition or not? What is your opinion on the change? (via SÃ¶ren Hentzschel)
It’s obviously only about revenue. Firefox user count is dropping every week. The next step for Firefox is monetarization on all levels. This will increase the estrangement of the old user base, while new users are missing since the masses are guided to Chrome. Result: Downward spiral.
Does Mozilla care about those users that use custom search engines? Not any more.
While the public knows only about the 2016 revenue, Mozilla already knows their 2019 revenue, because the contracts are being worked out right now.
We only know that Mozilla stopped publishing reliable usage data. From last year’s data we know that they had about 80-90 Million users max a year ago, losing around 10 million per year, but since Mozilla blocked the API we will no longer be able to know how many people are using Firefox.
From the available data I give Mozilla 2 more years max until their problems will be discussed more publicly in the media.
> Firefox user count is dropping every week.
This is a big lie, Firefox user count is stabled, see the Wikipedia stats.
Browser usage stats have always had a huge margin of error, and they still do today. Relying on them to bolster any argument is ill-advised.
Why? As a transparent company, Mozilla should publish how many users they really have. As long as they aren’t willing to be transparent, we have to work with the available data.
If the absolute user count for ADI is not 100% reliable, the percentage loss certainly is. The caveats of ADI are explained in the article, so I don’t see why anyone would dismiss it completely, except if there is an ideological reason to defend Mozilla.
@user17843: “As a transparent company, Mozilla should publish how many users they really have”
Mozilla has no way of knowing how many users they really have (although they can probably come up with a better estimate than anybody else). There is no reasonably accurate way of determining that number.
@John: They took away the ADI data after Andreas Gal used it to demonstrate the state of Firefox. Mozilla is only transparent when it suits them, I fully expect them to close down the Extension Statistics in a similar way.
@user17843: “They took away the ADI data”
Which doesn’t address my point at all. Again, Mozilla has no way of determining with accuracy how many Firefox users there are.
You can’t be serious! The number of MAU is the most critical number for a browser company and you can be sure every browser maker knows how many MAU they have.
Mozilla knows too.
Relative percentage development of ADI data is pretty reliable, but no one at Mozilla wants to hear that because Andreas Gal used it to expose how everything is going downhill.
You know what else is pretty reliable? The fact that about 25% of people are using ad blockers.
From this alone you can extrapolate the number of users, because the Addon statistics are open and there are 20 Million Adblock users max on the Mozilla platform overall, which means there are 80 million MAU max.
In the last comment I confused Daily Active Users (80 million) with Monthly Active Users.
Would be interesting to know the latter, but there’s currently no way of knowing.
Just for the record: In 2010 Mozilla knew exactly how many users they had:
I just found proof that Mozilla knows their Monthly Active Users in a deleted blog post by Mozilla Engineer Asa Dotzler from 2010:
He writes: “I’m charting active monthly users and I believe that’s what Google is charting.”
I just checked the Wikipedia stats and I all see is Firefox numbers going down.
It’s nearly stable for 2018 https://analytics.wikimedia.org/dashboards/browsers/#all-sites-by-browser/browser-family-timeseries
I want to like it, but I still can’t. Still slow and not on par with Blink. Struggles to load Reddit, YouTube and other websites I visit on a daily basis. You could say that Google made it hard for browsers not powered by Blink to have trouble loading Google-owned websites, but Reddit has nothing to do with Google and it still loads like crap on Firefox.
YouTube, I’ll believe no problem. Since the last YouTube redesign, Google is using an outdated version of a webstandard, which coincidentally only Chrome hasn’t yet thrown out support for, and so they unfortunately have to download a polyfill on other browsers, which of course makes it load a lot slower.
Reddit, I can’t test, because it’s down right now (and has been for a few hours already), but that sounds a lot more like it should be fixable by doing the standard maintenance steps.
Try typing “about:profiles” into the URL bar and creating a new profile there, and launch it. This will be like a factory-reset Firefox, except that you can just as easily go back to your current configuration, by launching the default profile again.
If it’s faster in this new profile, you might want to consider migrating to this new profile or using the automated Firefox Refresh from within your old profile: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/refresh-firefox-reset-add-ons-and-settings
“Good addition or not?” Certainly not!
I can understand that Mozilla needs sources of revenue, but this is not a good addition at all. If this will happen for existing Firefox installations or profiles, it will be goodbye Firefox as far as I am concerned. I have my own set of search engines, without Google. Also, I don’t want to have anything to do with their fellow data harvesters Amazon, Twitter, etc.
No offense to mozilla but chrome already had this since like 2004 i think? You type, say, imdb on the address bar then hit TAB button. It automatically searches your query on imdb. Im using firefox for privacy and all that jazz but little and useful things like this get here VERY LATE. :(
Chrome wasn’t even a thing in 2004.
I created a read-only empty file called “features” under “/Mozilla Firefox/browser/” so the installer is unable to extract the system addons, so one issue is solved. But, I copied my profile folder to a portable NIghtly and it still has those @ keywords. There is no way to disable those? It’s irritating to say the least.
More Mozilla will lose users more Mozilla will need money. It’s mathematical, rich habits are like drug, hard to lose them.
Looking at this revenue problem from another perspective: The only available Firefox usage data is published on the Addon Statistics site (https://addons.mozilla.org)
Lets look at two of the major Addons – ABP and uBO.
ABP reflects the “informed majority” target audience.
uBO reflects the “power user minority” target audience.
ABP performance during the last 12 months: -25% (3,5 Million users in total)
uBO performance during the last 12 months: +15% (+ 650,000 users in total). But Since March even uBO has lost around 800,000 users – even power users are increasingly leaving Firefox.
So a part of the ABP loss was due to people migrating to uBO probably, but there are still almost 3 million users less. For every ABP user, how many “average” user leave Firefox?
It is known that around 25% of all desktop users have an Ad Blocker installed. Let’s say for simplicity that 2,5 million adblock users left Firefox during the last year, that gives us a round number of 10 million users less, which is in line with the known statistics from the years before.
So we are at 70 million now. (+ the unknown number of users that are not pinged by Mozilla update ping, but I guess those people are not relevant for revenue)
Mozilla is losing almost 1 million users per month.
(Firefox Exodus part 3)
Let’s assume there are three equal groups using Firefox: Those who never google (1), those who use google but only browse casually (2), and those who use a desktop browser daily and use google extensively (3).
Let’s say (1) makes up 20%, (2) makes up 50%, and (3) makes up 30% of overall users.
(1) is irrelevant for Mozilla – no revenue. (2) is almost irrelevant.
Which group will most likely convert to Chrome? Of course (3), because they are already attracted to the google ecosystem.
In this model only 25 million users bring in 80% of the revenue right now. Let’s assume form the yearly loss of 10 million, 80% are from group 3. This means within two years Mozilla will only have around 10 million high revenue users left.
Ok, this comment is all pure speculation, but we’ll see.
Just a way to place Amazon on the default new tab page by claiming that somehow, Amazon is now a bona fide search engine.
back to safari and 1blocker
Firefox is a must have browser for banking and buying online (with no extensions, of course, to ensure third-party unsecurity). Firefox works flawlessly 100% for me at serious and trusted sites, no single fail since 2010. Chrome is very useful for some important sites like Youtube, Facebook and media related sites, however I have found some important issues in some pages (i.e. dialogs are not shown, options don’t appear neither working properly, secured paying sometimes stopped, page refresh while form-filling and so forth). Firefox still rules and imho it is essential for serious and trusted sites, so I won’t ever recommend Chrome for banking or buying online. Anyway Chrome is stronger for browsing for weird sites (aka porn) and also for non-trusted or bad sites.
Good addition or not? Given Firefox’s New Tab and Home page concept I consider indifferently whatever they fit into it : I use neither and never will. I’ve crafted one page which includes a background image and a tiny script for date & time, and that one page serves the Home and New Tab. No need for more, no wish for more.
@Tom: as always, the balanced, considered, non-confrontational, non-whine view. Good, simple comment ;-))
@klaas, but meanwhile my comment didn’t bring anything to the debate. Eluding in a way a topic by simply describing our own take is maybe sometimes more relevant of laziness than of peace, in the same way tolerance may sometimes be more relevant of indifference than of brotherhood. I’m not against confrontation of ideas which is essential for progress, I’m only against confrontation of individuals on the ground of those ideas in which case the ideas themselves are likely to become less well served.
@Tom: I understand the veiled reference in your last sentence, having put the word “non-confrontational” in my comment on purpose ;-) So, I take note of your reply, knowing that I am not a perfect choir boy who always does what is required, though I’ll do my best.
I’ve been increasingly frustrated with Firefox as of late especially with sites I visit starting to not work properly with it. Of course these sites also don’t work with Chrome and Opera all the time either. Those sites do work on Vivaldi, and I am starting to use Vivaldi more each day, and also hope Brave gets it’s act together too.
Which useragent is used by default by Vivaldi browser? :3
This is the default for Vivaldi.
Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/65.0.3325.183 Safari/537.36 Vivaldi/1.96.1147.64
I wonder why that warning about Symantec TLS certificates being distrusted appears on the bottom of the screenshots in the article since Symantec sold the CA to Digicert back in 2017: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DigiCert
I know the history of the spat between Google and Symantec which dates back to 2015 with the latter company issuing an unauthorised CA for google.com which resulted in Google withdrawing trust in its Chrome browser, but I don’t see why Moz’ would want to pick up the banner now that Symantec is no longer a party to the CA business. https://blog.mozilla.org/security/2018/03/12/distrust-symantec-tls-certificates/
@TelV: “I donâ€™t see why Mozâ€™ would want to pick up the banner now that Symantec is no longer a party to the CA business”
It’s not just Google and Mozilla. The Symantec certs are being distrusted for solid reasons, not just because of some spat. The sale to CA can’t retroactively make the Symantec root cert trustworthy — that root cert is without value and must simply be disposed of and replaced.
I understand that part, but according to the Digicert Press release, quote:
“Since announcing the agreement to acquire Symantec Website Security in August of this year, DigiCert has worked to address browser requirements for Symantec-issued certificates. DigiCert plans to replace affected certificates, at no cost and without interruption to ongoing customer business, in order to ensure continued trust.”
So if Symantec’s certificates are going to be (or have been) replaced by Digicert, the issue surrounding the original controversy has effectively been eradicated I would have thought.
@TelIV: “So if Symantecâ€™s certificates are going to be (or have been) replaced by Digicert, the issue surrounding the original controversy has effectively been eradicated I would have thought.”
The revocation of Symantec certificates is an essential part of this process. Sites that use Symantec certs can get them replaced with the Digicert certs right now, at no charge. But nothing can fix the certs that Symantex already issued — they must be removed. That’s what this is about.
Yes, I see what you mean: https://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/blog/Security-Bytes/Symantecs-untrusted-certificates-How-many-are-still-in-use
Worth being read (article at techtarget), thanks
â€œ…chrome already had this since like 2004 i think?â€
Funny to hear that Google Chrome data-harvester browser had a feature since 2004, when in fact Chrome browser didnâ€™t exist until late 2008! Firefox was around back in 2004; Chrome, no.
And I donâ€™t know for how many years exactly Firefox has had the built-in search keyword functionalityâ€“Martinâ€™s own article linked to above in the “Tip” is from 2007; Iâ€™ve been using Firefox since June 2005 and remember this search functionality being there for as long as I can remember.
To automatically search IMDb in Firefox, for example, first go to IMDbâ€™s page and right-click in the search box and choose â€œAdd a Keyword for this Search….â€ Then choose your keyword, for example, â€œi,â€ â€œim,â€ â€œimdb,â€ etc., whatever you wish. Then from now on whenever you want to search IMDb simply go to the address bar and type your keyword followed by a space and then your search query.
Reading this article and especially the comments today makes me a little depressed and concerned about Firefoxâ€™s future. As much as we (often rightfully) bash some of Mozillaâ€™s decisions on here, I must say that I would greatly miss Firefox should it cease to exist. Perhaps we should be grateful that it still exists at all, as an alternative. God forbid that my browser choices would be Google or Microsoft…
@Hy: “God forbid that my browser choices would be Google or Microsoftâ€¦”
There are more browsers in the world than those produced by Mozilla, Google and Microsoft. If Firefox were to vanish (which, I agree, would be a bad thing), you still wouldn’t have to use Chrome, IE, or Edge.
@John Fenderson: â€œThere are more browsers in the world than those produced by Mozilla, Google and Microsoft. If Firefox were to vanish (which, I agree, would be a bad thing), you still wouldn’t have to use Chrome, IE, or Edge.â€
Hello Mr. Fenderson! I know there are more browsers and I knew I was oversimplifying a bit when I was writing but I wondered: if Mozilla ceased to exist, or at least ceased to put out Firefox, would derivatives like Waterfox, Cyberfox, etc., continue? I didnâ€™t think so, but I could be wrong. Iâ€™m a bit uneasy with how an essentially one-man show like Waterfox is going in the first place, and I didnâ€™t know if operations like that could continue anyway should Mozilla stop completely. Iâ€™m not indissolubly wedded to Firefox but I do have a strong preference for Mozilla-type browsers. I strongly prefer them over Chromium-based browsers such as Chrome, Vivaldi, Brave, etc..
So I wonder: if Firefox vanished, (1) would Mozilla-based browsers somehow be able to continue? And (2) what exactly would the non-Mozilla-based browser options be besides IE, Edge, and Chrome/Chromium derivatives?
P.S. I always enjoy reading your comments on here. Thank you for your posts!
@Hy: “(1) would Mozilla-based browsers somehow be able to continue?”
Sure, there’s no reason why they couldn’t.
“(2) what exactly would the non-Mozilla-based browser options be besides IE, Edge, and Chrome/Chromium derivatives?”
A search engine could help more than I could on this. But I know on my machines, I have a few such browsers (such as Konqueror and Boat).
I have a question about the configuration of the top site in Waterfox.
Martin explained in his post from may 17 this year how to get more rows in Firefox 57 and later released versions of Firefox.
How to do this also in the latest Waterfox 56.2.2 release this because the in Firefox built-in functionality to extend the Top Sites listing to more than three rows (12 items) is not available in Waterfox?
In Waterfox 56.2.2 you cant modify the web browser’s configuration because you cant:
Load about:config?filter=browser.newtabpage.activity-stream.topSitesRows in the Waterfox (Firefox) address bar (Not a available command).
Do you Martin or anybody else now away around this maybe with the help from a script or WebExtenson? Or do I have to wait till the Waterox 57 release?
Hopefully, anybody knows how to solve this problem.
Not sure I understand and donâ€™t use Waterfox so I canâ€™t test, but if that pref does not exist in Waterfox maybe try adding it? Go to about:config, right-click, choose â€œNew,â€ then â€œInteger.â€ Call it browser.newtabpage.activity-stream.topSitesRows, and set value to the desired number of rows and click ok.
I don’t think it will ever work in Waterfox. All telemetry and data collection going to Mozilla has been removed along with Tiles and Pocket, as far as I know,. And I doubt it will be re enabled with the next release. I suspect your only option will be to find an extension but I doubt you will. I spent a minute looking and didn’t see anything.
I personally have Pocket and Highlights disabled but I very seldom open the New Tab page in FF. I can also add up to 6 rows but have no idea if my 1920×1200 monitor size plays into that ability, I use 4.
As far as Google and Amazon being added to Top Sites I don’t care. I open the New Tab page so infrequently I finally just now noticed they were in there in FF and Nighlty. I removed Google but I do have both of them as search engines for my right-click context menu and for the search bar but then I rarely use Google search. Amazon I would have expected to see in there.
In FF and Nighlty I created new profiles when v57 was released so it looks to me existing profiles will get the new search additions in Top Sites.
This is a change that doesn’t affect me, as I disable all that nonsense anyway. I don’t care about or want any suggestions from my browser.
For such an obscure tech related blog, I’m a bit surprised that almost all vitriol gets directed towards Mozilla rather than Google. It’s always the same “Losing users” rhetoric. Please tell me Mr Insider, ‘losing millions of users a month is rather alarming claim. Unless they are trashing users data and stealing their bank funds, which would call for jumping ship; I don’t fucking believe you.
This “obscure tech related blog” is actually quite popular, and various Mozilla and add-on devs regularly read (and respond) here. We’re at the level of the Firefox sub-reddit, but doing pretty well nevertheless :)
@yogaisevil: Mozilla is losing around 10 million users per year, according to their own former Chief technology officer, Andreas Gal. What else do you need?
This is not vitriol. I’m a happy Firefox User, but people need to understand that Mozilla is in a troubled position.
At the end of 2014 Mozilla made a deal with Yahoo where Yahoo had to pay them $374 Million per year, and if Yahoo got sold, Mozilla could go out of the contract anytime while still getting these payments until 2019. (1)
Now guess what happened? Yahoo was sold in 2017, and thus Mozilla will recieve $374 Million for two more years, no matter how bad they perform.
Even if google pays them only $50 Million, Yahoo has to pay the difference between $50 million and $374 Million.
We should ask, why did Yahoo pay Mozilla $100 Million (!) more than Google at that time? Why was the contract fixed for 4 years, even though Mozilla was known to lose market share? Why did they include that Mozilla basically wins the lottery when Yahoo gets sold? Why was the contract perfectly aligned with the interests of Google?
No one in their right mind would do that, except when your name is Marissa Mayer, you have close personal ties with Google and Mozilla, you know that your own company is going to be sold and you plan to step down as CEO anyway.
For Mozilla apparently this free money until 2019 is an incentive to do basically nothing.
Mozilla only has expenses of around 200 Million max per year. It looks like they are saving up for a grim future already. By now they have around $600 Million in reserves. But they don’t really know what to do with it.
If you’d ask me, the contract with Yahoo was the forst thing that could have happened to Mozilla.
@user17843: “This is not vitriol. Iâ€™m a happy Firefox User”
You certainly don’t seem like a happy Firefox user! You seem like someone who is predisposed to believe the worst possible interpretation of everything Mozilla does, including assuming nefarious intent.
I’ve not been happy with Mozilla’s behavior around Firefox, personally, but I do try to be fair and as objective as possible.
Mozilla loves to expose its users to PRISM surveillance program.
Hi, Google is bad of course, evil. Solutions:
Blank New Tab: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/blank-new-tab/?src=search
If you are using Firefox 61 or later, you don’t need this add-on. Instead, open the Firefox Preferences/Options page, click the “Home” section at the side, and change the “New tabs” option to “Blank Page”.
Sadly Firefox is still missing the really nice search completion UI from Google Chrome: when you use a keyword and press space or tab, the UI visibly shows you are using a keyword.
So for example if you use amazon in Google Chrome it will show “Search amazon” as you enter the search term. In Firefox the keyword / custom search mostly work if you set up the bookmark properly.. but you have zero feedback when typing in the URL bar.
Iâ€™m not familiar with the search completion UI from Google Chrome but somehow Iâ€™ve been able to live with zero feedback when typing in the URL bar.
So Iâ€™m reading on here folks talking about searching on Chrome and I donâ€™t allow Chrome on my machine so I look in Vivaldi, which I rarely use, and I see in the settings now a setting to search using POST, and to make search â€œPrivate,â€ whatever that means. So I check the boxes and try a search from the address bar and it seems POST worksâ€“I can not see my search terms in the URL.
So my question is this: I was always able to do this in Firefox, and still can in Cyberfox. But since FF 57 Quantum, I can no longer find a way to search using my default search engine (Startpage) from the address bar and NOT see my search terms in the URL. Anyone know why this stopped working in Firefox, and more importantly, how to restore it?
Hi Hy. I consult with Startpage.com and saw your message, so I checked with the Support Team.
When you use the Startpage.com extension in Firefox, the search query will be visible when searching from the address bar. I’m told that since SP doesn’t leak URLs to the clicked pages, this is only an issue if you store this in your own history.
Feel free to email the Support Team Directly if you have additional questions: [email protected]
Dear Ms. McIntyre:
Thanks very much for your post and for looking into that! As I mentioned, Firefox did not previously show the search terms in the URL, and Cyberfox, etc., still do not. Only in this new Firefox (57+) do I notice this behavior. This is a privacy issue in that having search terms shown in the URL makes them visible to oneâ€™s ISP, etc..
Thanks for the suggestion to contact the Support Teamâ€“I just may do that. Thanks again!
Yahoo is now using systematically Google’s recaptcha for login :((
As a result with Firefox 61 I can’t have access to my Flickr account anymore, like many people:
Please can you make an article about that and trying to give us a solution for this problem, thanks.
I don’t get this yet for my account. Maybe because I’m switched to the German sign in page?
Many many sites are now using Google’s recaptcha. I simply don’t want to waste my time clicking again and again trying to resolve them during hours. Because of this I guess I will not be able to use the internet soon. I hate Google in a way that nobody can imagine.