Add custom search engines to Firefox

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 22, 2019
Updated • Feb 22, 2019
Firefox, Firefox add-ons

Add custom search engine is a free extension for the Firefox web browser to add any search engine to the Firefox web browser.

Firefox users have quite a few options when it comes to adding search providers to the web browser: add them on Mozilla AMO, run searches on sites to have them added, use the search bar to add Open Search search engines, or use the Mycroft Project website to do so.

Mozilla changed recently how search providers are added to Firefox. The initial version broke important functionality, e.g. the option to add search engines from AMO or MyCroft. These issues have been fixed for the most part.

Add custom search engine

add custom search firefox

Add Custom Search Engine is a browser extension that adds an option to Firefox to add any Internet search engine to the browser using it.

Just click on the icon that the extension adds to the Firefox toolbar to open the "add custom search engine" dialog.

The basic version requires just two parameters: a name for the search engine and the search URL. You need to replace the search term with the placeholder %s. The best way to go about it is to run a search for TEST on the search engine, copy the URL, and replace TEST with %s, e.g. with

The extension may pick up the favicon automatically but you may specify it if it does not or if you would like to use a different icon. Browse options to pick a local icon are provided as well.

Note: The search engine data is uploaded to temporarily due to a limitation with Firefox WebExtensions before the search engine is added to Firefox.

The search engine is added to the list of supported search engines by Firefox. You can make it the default search engine, add a keyword to it, or run searches using Firefox's one-off search functionality, or by using the search field if you make use of it.

Add Custom Search Engine supports advanced operators that you may enable on the configuration screen. These add the following options:

  • Use Post query parameters.
  • Add a suggest Url so that Firefox may use it to display suggestions using that functionality.
  • Change the input encoding.
  • Add a description.

Search engines that you add to Firefox remain available even after you remove the extension. You control all search engines by loading the about:preferences#search in the browser. There you may change the default search engine, enable or disable suggestions, add keywords to search engines, or remove search engines again.

Closing Words

Add Custom Search Engine is a handy extension for Firefox users who have issues adding certain search engines to the browser and users who want more control over the process.

Now You: Which method do you use to add custom search engines to Firefox?

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Author Rating
2.5 based on 7 votes
Software Name
Add custom search engine
Software Category
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  1. ColorWorks said on January 26, 2021 at 11:29 pm

    I have been trying for a few days to add a search engine to the search bar in Firefox. I’ve read all of their instructions on how to do it. And I just kept getting sent to add-ons.

    This is one of the sites I was trying to add on and I did have the add-on in my windows 8 and used the site a lot from the search bar too. So I was wanting to do that again.

    Reading your instructions I ran a search on the site and lo and behold the plus sign was in the search bar and it was added just like that!

    I have bookmarked this page.
    Thank you for such great instructions.

  2. atmosferis said on August 1, 2020 at 11:07 am

    Swift Selection Search adds a context menu entry to run searches? to the right-click menu by default in Firefox. You may hide the option, or hide the popup and use only the context menu search option if you prefer that.

  3. v1adimir said on July 19, 2019 at 9:50 pm

    Software insanity strikes again, apparently (& amazingly!) I do *not* have an option to add a custom search engine (just done a clean reinstall, of the OS and everything). Just baffled, never seen this b4; and trying to figure out what about:config setting may be responsible. WOW

  4. greg said on February 23, 2019 at 12:39 am

    Or you can just use Google Chrome, a browser that has custom search engine creation templates built in so you can create whatever your choosing is. Firefox used to offer this capability but took it away. Another reason why I left Firefox for Chrome.

    1. Jason said on February 23, 2019 at 4:07 pm

      Or you can just get the Xfce desktop in Linux, which allows you to make custom actions (not just for search but for other functions) right on the desktop without need of browser intervention.

      But the point is that it’s good to have options.

      1. tratata said on February 24, 2019 at 11:50 am

        Tree Style Tab lets me see 30+ tabs at the same time. Virtual desktops switch not only one application but whole bunch of them. In the case I would have to deal with application pinning to pin them to all desktops. I mean Simple Tab Group more simple alternative.

        Also Simple Tab Group can open a new tab group when you open a new window. It means that when you accidentally close a window with tab stack (group) then Simple Tab Group will save that group and you can reopen it. In case of Xfce virtual desktop you just lose the group and spend a lot of time to reopen all tabs. Especially if you have 5 groups with 30+ tabs in each.

    2. tratata said on February 23, 2019 at 10:49 am

      Chrome doesn’t have tree style tab and Simple Tab Groups. I use them to work with big quantity of information. I need them yo switch between tabs, compare information and learn. So it’s impossible to go from Firefox to another browser. If Chrome had such features I would not bother even about Google telemetry.

  5. Rush said on February 22, 2019 at 6:16 pm

    As for me, I would never allow mozilla to suggest any search engine, if it came to that…then I would bookmark my preferred search engine webpage ie..,…(the only two that I use)

    but, maybe as a last resort: but definitely not google or bing…etc

    1. supergirl said on February 23, 2019 at 2:37 am

      I also bookmark my 2 search engines. is my homepage & Startpage with my prefs selected is on my toolbar.

      I tried setting them up in FFx preferences but I could never select either as the default.

      I gave it up Years ago….

      1. 99 said on February 23, 2019 at 11:11 am
      2. Firefox user said on May 31, 2019 at 6:28 pm

        Thank you!

  6. TelV said on February 22, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    I use an addon called “Add To Search Bar”:

    Not sure if it’s available an a WebExt, but I use Waterfox most of the time and it works with that.

  7. Tom Hawack said on February 22, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    I’ve used at one time a similar to ‘Add custom search engine’ Firefox extension, ‘Search Engines Helper’ before switching to ‘mozlz4-edit’ which allows to add search engines to Firefox as well as to edit existing ones.

    Of course Firefox itself for arranging/deleting a search engine.

    The advantage of ‘Add custom search engine’ and ‘Search Engines Helper’ over ‘mozlz4-edit’ is that they include advanced options as to where to land if your search query is empty (sometimes it may differ).

    Mozilla’s removal of the adding a search engine feature is incomprehensible, being obliged to use a dedicated extension is relevant of one of those Firefox aberrations, perhaps related to the fact the company wishes users to stick with the built-in search engines, some of which and certainly the default one contractually beneficial for Mozilla; if so, not really what I call a fair deal.

    1. tratata said on February 22, 2019 at 3:17 pm

      I think it is obvious fact. (: They want to receive more money from their search engine partners. I would say it is Mozilla’s hypocrisy.

  8. Paul(us) said on February 22, 2019 at 1:33 pm

    Thanks for this article this one makes me again evaluate the program I use to add context search web extensions right now, which I really like and enjoy immensely.

    More info on:

    Maybe I am going to use them both next to each outer.

  9. Anonymous said on February 22, 2019 at 12:57 pm

    “Due to a technical limitation with Firefox WebExtensions, all data entered when creating you custom search engine is uploaded to stores this data temporarily. You can read their privacy policy and terms of service here:” – ridiculous!

    1. Ron said on February 22, 2019 at 10:55 pm

      What, webextensions have technical limitations? I thought they were better than XUL (legacy) technology. (Sarcasm_). Good thing I’ve been using Pale Moon.

  10. Anonymous said on February 22, 2019 at 12:21 pm

    Been using this extension for a while. A real life saver)))
    Still I struggle finding Suggest URL.
    Is there some step-by-step guide/instructions on how to find it (some examples would be good)

    1. tratata said on February 22, 2019 at 3:13 pm

      I remind you that the extension uses “window.external.AddSearchProvider” function. This function will be removed since Firefox 66. It means that all such extensions will stop working since Firefox 66.

      1. Anonymous said on February 22, 2019 at 3:27 pm

        Strange, it works fine for me in latest Nightly.
        Also at some point in extension update notes there were some mentionings regarding fixes/workarounds for FF66.

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