Mozilla plans to change how search providers are added to Firefox
Firefox users who run a recent Nightly version of the web browser may have stumbled upon a puzzling change that Mozilla implemented recently in the development version.
Firefox users who attempt to install a search provider from Mycroft Project, Mozilla AMO, or any other site that supports it, will notice that this is not possible anymore in the most recent Nightly version.
All you had to do previously was click on a search provider to get the "Add Search Engine" prompt to add it to the list of supported search engines.
Selection of a search provider link on a site like Mycroft Project does nothing anymore in Firefox Nightly (currently Firefox 65).
The sites use the method AddSearchProvider() for the functionality; the method is deprecated and support for it will be removed from Firefox.
Mozilla made the change in Firefox Nightly 65 already which is why users of Nightly can't add search providers anymore using sites and services that make use of the method. The organization did so to collect regressions and plans to disable the functionality in Firefox 66 Stable for all users.
Mozilla explains on the Firefox Site Compatibility blog:
The IE-derived window.external object will remain, but the AddSearchProvider and IsSearchProviderInstalled methods on it will be no-op, simply returning undefined, according to the latest HTML spec. This change has also been made to Firefox 65 Nightly.
While AddSearchProvider could be used to add an OpenSearch plug-in to the browser, IsSearchProviderInstalled was always returning 0 on Firefox.
The change does not impact Firefox's auto-discovery capabilities; the browser picks up open search engines automatically (provided that they use a specific format) so that users may use these in Firefox or make them the default.
Firefox users may also add any search engine that is picked up by Firefox using the search field in the browser.
A bug on [email protected] highlights the controversial nature of the removal in Firefox. The deprecation breaks Firefox extensions such as Add Custom Search Engine that make use of the feature, sites like MyCroft Project, and also search engines that are available on AMO (Addons Mozilla Org).
The critical nature of the change could lead to a postponing to resolve some of the side-effects of disabling the functionality in the Firefox browser.
Now you: how do you add search engines to Firefox?
Hurray! Another useful function which Firefox had and Chrome didnâ€™t is now being removed, rendering Firefoxâ€™s search capability worse than Chromeâ€™s. In Chrome you can at least edit the search engineâ€™s URL and parameters; in the brave new Firefox you will no longer be able to add the customised Mycroft search engines and will be solely dependent on the browserâ€™s built-in discovery algorithm, with no interface for editing or customising the entries. Pathetic!
A DUMB user is someone who keeps complaining, types a lot of BS words with zero userful information and refuse to learn. His so-called “useful function” is some garbage non-dumb users never used.
If you want more flexible and manageable enhancement, this:
Thank you for your condescending tone; I hope you’re not in a client-facing job. You could have said exactly the same thing without name-calling.
ShintoPlasm : +1
And as often, the only arguments of people defending greed-motivated Mozilla regressions are gratuitous insults, falsehoods, and telling people that they just need to learn how to live with software worse than before.
BTW turning the address bar into a search box by default, and removing the actual search box, was a nice excuse to allow the spyware function of sending every single letter typed in the address bar to the search engine. To protect their privacy, people should disable address bar search suggestions in the options, set keyword.enabled to false in about:config, and enable the independent search box in the options to use it for search.
This option is available in the “search options menu” without going into about:config.
@gwacks. It does not take intelligence to call others dumb because they are questioning a change. Pragmatic you may be but this does not make others “dumb”. There is also a fundamental difference between criticism and “complaining” that you, with your high and mighty intelligence, is singularly unable to comprehend. That, is a lack compassion, care and empathy. All of which could be considered “dumb” in the simplistic manner you have abused the term.
Adding a bookmark keyword search is NOT the same as adding a search provider. Any idiot can see that. Oh wait, you cannot. Search providers have been an enumerable aspect of Firefox for many years. Some extensions use this to allow a selected phrase to be pushed to a distinct search provider via a sub menu in the main content context menu. This is not possible with bookmark keyword search.
I can only configure Duckduckgo and Qwant for the search in the FF omnibar with my preferences (&kae……). I don’t know how to do it with Startpage and SearchX because the syntax is not the same and the preferences url disappears in the results.
@pat: Startpage has to be done with an extension from AMO. Don’t worry, an extension is not actually added to Firefox.
thx, Klaas Vaak
But if no extension is added to FF, how can i keep my settings/bookmarklet of startpage.
I mean theme, language etc.
I can do it with DDG & qwant.
https ://duckduckgo .com/?q=%s&kae=…………etc………
https ://www.qwant .com/?q=%s&r=……………..etc………
@pat: go into the settings – 3 hor. bars top right corner – adjust your settings, scroll down to bottom and there are 2 options given to save those settings.
I don’t figure how to do this. I installed 2 startpage extensions, they are in the search engines preferences of FF but nothing to tweak then?
@pat: the tweaking needs to be done on a webpage that shows search results obtained with Startpage. For example, open a new tab, search for London with Startpage. That will give you a list of results, with in the top left corner showing the Sp log, and in the top right corner the 3 hor. lines you can click on for tweaking. I am not aware of any other way to tweak Sp.
Ok thank you Klaas Vaak, got it!
It looks like https://www.startpage .com/do/search?lui=francais&language=francais&cat=web&query=%s (I’ve replace query result with %s).
Because before, after searching via startpage webpage, the result url was always https://www.startpage .com/do/search
They can’t do things harder! ;(
@pat: Startpage are evaluating users’ comments about their new page lay-out. May be you could tell Sp’s Liz McIntyre about the difficult bit you mention: https://www.ghacks.net/2018/10/25/preview-of-the-new-startpage-com/
AFAIK, the only drawback of bookmark keywork searching is that it cannot process the POST request searching(won’t expose your search terms to the address bar this way which is funny). For example, DuckDuckGo HTML(You can get it from https://duckduckgo.com/opensearch_html.xml) and searx.me. Foutunatly almost all of these engines have their GET alternatives, or you can just simply modified their URLs to something like https://searx.me/?q=%s, then it works:
the *Some extensions* @pd mentioned above are a serise addons named “Context Search” or “Select and Search” which Marthin had already introduced before. Either they utilize the Firefox’s built-in search plugins(seldom) or users’ custom search(usually) or bookmarks with keyowrds(how could it be impossilbe? See the github link above) or all of them, they perform the same work — just searching. Maybe some idiots really cann’t see that. Although my English sucks, we’d better not take IGNORANT AS POWER, otherwise the EvilCorps would laughing their asses off.
I only agree with your disabling search suggestions, your other tweaks just make your software worse and meaningless(Of course I use the great ghack’s user.js with some customs). The reply to the left BS words, see:
You could add any search engine by using a mozlz4-edit addon https://addons.mozilla.org/addon/mozlz4-edit/
Note: If you use Windows’ systems then you must allow Explorer to show you hidden files and folders to open “search.json.mozlz4” file of your profile.
If you don’t know what Firefox profile is then use Google to find out that.
Type about:support to list the currently used profile folder. Or click Help>Troubleshooting Information
So… I use Waterfox, and I’ve decided to give Firefox Quantum a try. I started customizing it, adding extensions and all, but then I figured out that I can’t add a customized Startpage search. The built-in “Add “example.com”” functionality doesn’t work because the settings don’t persist, Add to Search Bar add-on hasn’t been ported to WebEx, and I can’t figure out how to use sites like https://ready.to/search/en/ (the front / back of search term?).
…And now, these news. Great.
I believe that already happens in Chrome.
That’s not entirely true. In Chrome you can’t use OpenSearch plugins like Mycroft, but there is a pretty good UI for adding and editing custom search engines. In Firefox you can’t directly edit any custom search engines inside the browser itself, even those which were added in the Mozilla-approved way. So essentially Firefox users are now going to be far more limited than their Chrome counterparts – no freedom to add any search engine through third-party sources (only the browser’s autodetect routine will provide this), and no ability to edit/customise these search engines.
What I mean is in Chrome search engines are automaticaly added to the browser. When you check, you have a lot of search engines added.
I don’t understand all Mozilla’s technical explanations, all I see is that one more user’s freedom to set Firefox with Firefox built-in options is removed. So we’ll have to do it with a work-around.
I’ll continue to edit manually Firefox’s search engines’ database, search.json.mozlz4, with a Firefox dedicated extension : ‘mozlz4-edit’ at https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/mozlz4-edit/
I don’t understand Mozilla’s strategy and meanwhile many suffer of its tactics. Does the company even have a strategy or is it improvising day day day? This is becoming too much.
Okay, so we have an add-on to edit mozlz4. Great. But the interface is so cumbersome and un-intuitive, and you cannot possibly expect a moderately savvy user to be able to use it! In contrast, Chrome has an agreeable UI which is simple to use, built into the browser itself.
@ShintoPlasm, I was answering for myself to ” how do you add search engines to Firefox?”. Otherwise, I entirely agree with you as suggested by the rest of my comment above. Of course I consider this decision as nonsense not to mention that it worsens a search engine management under Firefox Quantum which is already less flexible then it was prior to 57 Quantum. One can also think of Mozilla Thunderbird where the search engine management is close to zero : is that what Mozilla has in mind for future versions of Firefox?
I’d just like to insist on this : there are at least two major, critical points in a browser which concentrate the anxieties of their developers because they are the entry points of tracking and tied to subventions : homepage/newtab and search engines : these two are essential for developers to analyze and even conduct users’ behavior. What do we notice? These two are slowly but surely being more and more controlled. OK, Mozilla sacrificed the homepage, it’s now possible to choose it right from the options. Why not for the newtab page? Because all the new features, ex system add-ons only, are built for it.
IMO the idea is that Mozilla is concentrating on four points :
1- Speed. People love speed, makes the browser sexy more than 1/10 of a second improves productivity. By the way, is everyone always searching for productivity, always, everywhere, “productivity” master-mord of theis hysterical planetary race, on all browsers, her-now-fast-just-do-it?
2- Security. Say it quickly. Slightly enhanced security maybe, far from what dedicated extensions come up to. Security for the masses, with what “masses” may mean to developers.
3- Privacy. That’s the big joke. Joke, not lie. Not a lie because there are settings, a joke because fundamental privacy settings are available, a joke because fundamental settings which should be accessible in the browser’s options need to be accesses in the about:config, a joke because privacy settings have as default value what is not the best for the user : have a look at the dozens — dozens — of settings reconfigured by a tool such as Ghacks-user.js to advantage the user and not the web.
4- Data tracking, tied to (3). data tracking with newtab, imposed by the browser with all the cavalry of latest Firefox “features”, a railway of search engines slowly narrowing to lesser tracks.
To summarize : every junction point which has the potential of letting the user impose choices other than those of the Mozilla dogma is controlled. That’s all there is to it.
@Tom Hawack: “a joke because fundamental settings which should be accessible in the browserâ€™s options need to be accesses in the about:config”
I could not agree more.
Firefox’ abuse of about:config by hiding important settings in there (and not documenting what settings are available and what they do) crossed an important threshold for me a while back. Now, in my view, if they’re in about:config (or user.js, or any other such file), the settings may as well not exist.
Had there been a track record of the “add search engine” being abused by sites or malware, silently adding unwanted search provider entries via scripted operations? If not (and I honestly don’t recall whether or not this has happened), it’s hard for me to understand the reasoning behind this change.
I don’t think there’s much evidence that this has been exploited in the past, but it’s a similar argument – which I also disagree with – that Opera’s developers (where you’re not allowed to change the default search engine outside of a predefined selection) have been making for years.
Aaaah Money, a very sensitive subject.. but we all know how that will end: soon Firefox users will not be able to change the way MozCo has decided to add search engines, which will make impossible to replace them by clean engines not systematically calling home for revenue. Or made so difficult with a hidden pref or what else that one more time another piece of privacy will be lost. When Mozilla will be bought by Google or similar do not be surprised.
As usual Mozilla remove functionality to target their user base AKA the dumb users.
In 2014 when I switched from Opera v12 to Firefox, I honestly could not believe how badly the search engine manegement could be in Firefox. I used Fx previously, especially after v4 was released, the UI which was a complete Opera rip-off felt familiar, but never really got into too much detail until 2014.
Up to this point they did nothing to improve it. While still nothing matches Opera v12 in this regard (sadly) Chromium is a close second contender. I gave up managing search engines in Firefox, it’s just impossible to do so, I just remove everything from there and call it a day.
Really, I don’t believe it can get any worse than it already is. Not even by completely removing that poor excuse of a search engine manager alltogether.
Why does Mozilla hate their users so much?
Ugh. What’s next? Oh I know: Mozilla renames the browser to “FireFoxxx” to reflect how “eXtreme” they feel it is.
I don’t even know what Mycroft Project is. All I know is that previously, it was easy to add a search engine to Firefox. Then it got more difficult, and you had to learn a new method (which I haven’t learned yet, although I applied it once or twice). And now, it seems this method is again thrown to the dogs, we have to learn another one, at it will be even more restrictive.
Mozilla does not seem to realise that a program such as a major browser is not a toy, for them to play with and break regularly. Being the developer of Firefox carries some responsibility. One of the obligations stemming from it is backward compatibility. Not forcing people to learn things from scratch every six months. Respecting the tremendous amount of work your users have put into learning the bloody thing, and not changing their habits overnight for no good reason, with alarming frequency.
It’s been some time now I haven’t fired up Firefox. I use Vivaldi. I don’t have to worry anymore about buying some expensive extra memory, just because Mozilla couldn’t be bothered to fix its memory hogging problem which has been going on for, what ? a decade ?
Vivaldi is constantly updating its browser and adding new features, and yet, I don’t have the impression, as with Firefox, that every now and then, I have to learn everything from scratch again, because the geniuses at headquarters have devised some shiny new thing they are in love with.
When Microsoft completely changed its Office user interface, and replaced traditional drop-down menus with the ribbon, there were howls of outrage. They persist to this day, and it’s been eleven years. But you could make a case for the ribbon. It was truly revolutionary. It had huge advantages compared to the now obsolete-looking traditional menus. It was way more beautiful. Granted, many users would argue that usability was better before, and some still do. But it was worth it. I’m sure most users wouldn’t go back to the old interface now.
Mozilla, on the other hand, keeps breaking things with abandon, for no obvious reason. That’s quite reckless. Quantum was defensible. But once you decide to do Quantum, you calm down for a few years, and let people adjust to such a major change. You don’t keep changing their workflow and user environment again, and again, and again.
@Clairvaux: ++1, a sensible comment.
Excellent comment. It also explains why Google’s Chrome is so successful, and not just because of the persistent marketing. The browser looks and works pretty much exactly the same as it has for the last ten years; 99.9% of Chrome extensions work flawlessly in all versions past and future; and, lately, Google’s been adding some truly useful features (see elsewhere on gH). Mozilla, on the other hand, keeps redesigning, reinventing, breaking stuff, and spitting in their long-suffering users’ faces.
Another feature removed unnecessarily. *sigh*. This feature has been part of the browser since it was known as Phoenix. I have been watching all the recent changes and things are getting more ridiculous by the day.
It’s almost Mozilla Foundation are taking instructions from their sponsor (cough Google cough) on how to enfeeble their Firefox browser in return for fundings.
But it is. Their explainations every time they do some stupid changes are becoming more and more like what the Chrome dev team would give. Mozilla makes hundreds of millions of *$$* from the default search engine setup(i.e. Yahoo, EvilCorp). No matter what your ideal is, or whether you are operating a charity or some f*cking non-profit orgs, you need money to do things and achieve your goal. That’s the truth of capitalism. Some people just can’t face this bloody fact or selectively disregard it then blame all these mistakes on Firefox, on Mozilla instead, never even think about using their brains to find out another better alternatives which always exist even though they are so obvious and simple. That’s why these people suck, they’re not only dumb but also blind with eyes open. I don’t have any respect for these dumb suckers as firefox users. May the EvilCorp always LOVE and productize them.
I also agree that Mozilla should gradually get rid of the shadow of the EvilCorp, increse their income diversity, find new relatively “clean” income points for example like business which create values by protecting users’ privacy and respect their data usage. They have been trying though it sounds impractical:
There is an extension called Add Custom Search Engine
It allows adding a custom search engine. Also it works fine on latest Nightly
Already a dedicated extension on AMO : ‘Add Search Engine from Mycroft Project’ at https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/add-search-engine-from-mycroft/
“Firefox 65 removed the non-standard feature that Mycroft Project relies on, preventing it from installing search engines. This extension provides a workaround to install search engines from it”
I haven’t tested it, running FF63 here.
The addon is working fine in Nightly.
I personally don’t care one way or the other about installing custom search engines but I can see its usefulness, for some people. I just don’t need any custom search engines in the search bar. Everything I need to install can be done using OpenSearch in FF Nightly. And, I don’t care if a search engine is using GET or POST. Referers, headers and redirects are very limited in my FF based installs and I don’t use the DNS service from my ISP otherwise I don’t see using GET as being a problem. What am I missing that I should be concerned about?
If I had to guess, I would say that 98% of my searches are done from the context menu. After setting the preferences in Startpage and DuckDuckGo I added them to my Searches bookmark folder (right-click the search input box â€” â€œAdd a Keyword for this Searchâ€) so they can be used as custom search engines from the address bar (with the keyword) or from the context menu:
For those not familiar with the process, I can search from the address bar with my installed search engines (16). Or when using a keyword I can use one of my (24) bookmarked search engines.
I’m just not feeling it… being deprived of any search engines. :)
@Tom Harwick, I’ve seen that one before and it specifically address the Mycroft search engines as opposed to others on this page (like mozlz4) that look ridiculous and un-intuitive.
Since I use Mycroft a lot, that may be the way to go for now.
@scorpiogreen, indeed â€˜Add Search Engine from Mycroft Projectâ€™ specifically addresses the Mycroft search engines. Not all sites are handled by Mycroft and one may wish to craft his own search engines, with parameters, other favicon etc…
The ‘mozlz4-edit’ Firefox extension may seem at first daunting but in fact it’s rather easy to use. With it you can edit not only Firefox’s search engine database (search.json.mozlz4) but as well that of Thunderbird, as well :
“There’re .lz4 ( .jsonlz4, .jsonlz4-xxxx, .baklz4 etc) files inside a Firefox’s profile folder but actually they’re mozlz4 files. You can try to open and edit these files.”
Add, remove (hide, rather) and edit search engines becomes a breeze, you just have to be careful when editing and of course always backup the file before.
Thanks for your response, @Tom Harwick.
The only thing I’m concerned about is the specific Mycroft search engines. There are hundreds of them there and they are so simple to use it’s ridiculous. I use the search bar to make searches, not the address (url) bar. This looks like the first step towards getting rid of it.
First it’s xml phase out
Then it’s forced updates
Now it’s Mycroft deletion.
I’m willing to put up with only so much BS before I make a switch to another browser. If they take away things like this then there’s really no point in sticking around with FF anymore.
Another day another stupid move.
The hope is that whilst all of this is transpiring a talented group of rebels are quietly developing the browser of browsers to fill in the void that is becoming larger and larger by the day.
“Now you: how do you add search engines to Firefox?”
I always add mycroft first, then I add the other dozen-plus engines I need, most of which I use multiple times daily. I must say after reading this that I’m confused now. Does this mean that there will no longer be any other ways to add/use the search engines found on mycroft? For example, my default search engine is the oddly-named â€œStartpage + DuckDuckGo Suggest (HTTPS, POST)â€ found here: hxxps://mycroftproject.com/search-engines.html?name=Startpage+%2B+DuckDuckGo+Suggest+%28HTTPS%2C+POST%29
It has DDG in the nameâ€“I have no idea whyâ€“but it is Startpage, and itâ€™s been the only Startpage engine Iâ€™ve found to do POST searches in FF Quantumâ€“every other â€œStartpageâ€ engine Iâ€™ve added from anywhere else always showed the search terms in the URL.
So does anyone know if there will be any other ways to add search engines like those found on mycroft, like the special Startpage one above, and others? Thanks.
They’re going to remove the Search Bar, their intentions have been known for a long time, in typical Mozilla fashion, to accomplish this without a user **** storm, just like with Extensions and Themes, they’re killing it softly, bit by bit.
IMO Mycroft is an integral part of the so called ‘Community’. The last good quys to get screwed?
If and when this happens, I’m done, it’s a deal breaker.
(And notice that this was ‘leaked’ on Thanksgiving, one of the the quietest news days here in the US, AFAICT a quick news search reveals it’s been covered nowhere but here)
I’ve never used the Search bar. In fact, the first thing I always do when creating a new profile is to remove it and then to use the location bar to search with. The same set of search engines will appear underneath the results, but I usually remove those too via prefs: browser.urlbar.oneOffSearches and set it to false.
To add more search engines I use “Add to search bar” which is dead simple to use i.e. right click in any search field and click “Add to search bar”. To be able to choose which engine to search with, install Context Search as well. That gives you the option to search using any search engine from the context menu. Here’s a pix: http://imgbox.com/ECQk4e7J
@TelV: “the first thing I always do when creating a new profile is to remove it and then to use the location bar to search with.”
It’s always interesting to hear how other people configure their browser. Personally, I really hate the one-bar-to-do-everything concept and do my best to disable everything about it. I don’t want it to try to interpret what I type there (and especially I don’t want anything there to be interpreted as a search request). I just want it to treat anything there as a URL.
That said, I do disable the search bar as well! I don’t see the benefit of involving my browser in my searches.
The definitive solution? thereisonlyxul.org
Just when you think you’ve seen the last shocking change to FF along comes another. If you focus out at the timeline of changes its easy to spot the trend here, away from user choice/control and more toward the elimination of your control and invasion of your privacy for $. It’s not going to change unless users and especially DEVELOPERS choose a different browser. There are alternatives, go support them.
“how do you add search engines to Firefox?”
I don’t. I’m old-school: I don’t use either the URL box or the search box to do searches. Instead, I actually browse to the search engine I want to use and search from there, so what engines are or are not configured in the browser is not something that affects me.
For me, that is a clunky way of doing it. Why use google (or searx.me) to take me to that particular website, and then use that website’s clunky search box when I can do that directly from Firefox’s own search box using a specific Mycroft search engine?
The way you do it is added steps that waste time when I can directly get my specified results from Firefox’s searchbox. I therefore avoid using google (or searx.me or whatever main search engine) altogether. I also avoid having to use a bookmark to open that webpage and do it from there.
More insidious shenanigans from Moz Co.
It`s like the frog in the pan of water scenario – heat it slowly and it wont try to jump out.
@ John Fenderson
â€œhow do you add search engines to Firefox?â€ = = I donâ€™t. Iâ€™m old-school
I have searx.me as my home page & my cookieless prefs for startpage bookmarked on the toolbar.
just one click & im searching…simple & low stress.
I regard ANYTHING typed into the location/search barto be privacy compromised…
so as little info there as possible.
Mozilla also plans to disable setting OpenSearch as default.
I noticed that I’m currently on version 65 and the “add search” addon still works, so I take it they backed down then? If so, it would be nice with an update to this article.