Firefox may soon display the search term instead of the Search Engine's address

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 23, 2022

Firefox Nightly users may have noticed a change regarding searches made in the development browser. When users type search terms in Firefox's address bar, Firefox displays the typed in search term instead of the web address of the search engine.

firefox no url but search term

The change applies to the default search engine of the browser only and only if searches are started from the browser's address bar. The visit of a search engine and the entering of search terms on the search engine's page shows the correct address in the address bar of the browser.

Mozilla has been working on persistent search terms in the Firefox address bar for a while. The change of the default behavior in Firefox Nightly was made to get "early feedback" on the implementation.

The feature is turned on by default in Firefox Nightly, but there is a new Search related setting to restore the classic behavior.

Restore the classic search experience in Firefox

firefox show search url

Here is a step-by-step guide to restore the classic search behavior in Firefox:

  1. Load about:preferences#search in the Firefox address bar.
  2. Locate the Search Bar group of settings at the top.
  3. Remove the checkmark from "Show search terms instead of URL on default search engine results page".

Firefox should display the URL of the default search engine again when searches are run from the browser's address bar.

Firefox users may also set the preference browser.urlbar.showSearchTerms.enabled to FALSE on about:config; this turns off the displaying of search terms in the browser's address bar as well.

It is unclear if the change will be implemented in Firefox Stable, considering that Mozilla is trying to get feedback with the enabling in Firefox Nightly.

Closing Words

Why is Mozilla considering the change? The meta bug does not tell and the linked Mozilla Hub page is not accessible publicly. I do not see any gain in the change, especially since the search term is displayed on the search engine's website prominently. The display of the search term instead of the address of the search engine has at least two negative aspects: users can't verify the address anymore using the address bar, as it is no longer displayed. Additionally, it is no longer possible to copy the address or edit it.

Now You: what is your take on this development?

Firefox may soon display the search term instead of the Search Engine's address
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Firefox may soon display the search term instead of the Search Engine's address
Mozilla is testing a change in Firefox Nightly currently that replaces the default search engine's address with the user's search term.
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  1. Anonymous said on December 27, 2022 at 5:26 pm

    A reminder that Firefox is, before being a browser, a Google Search app. A logical evolution after removing by default the dedicated search box, for example.

    Let’s hope that the setting to undo that will not disappear, if this change ever comes to stable.

  2. Rex said on December 25, 2022 at 11:45 pm

    After every new ‘feature’, I love coming here to see Firefox supporting retards being all shocked at this move, or exchanging notes on what about:config setting will switch it back. Until even that gets removed, if anyone with a memory better than that of a goldfish can recall with other features removed over the years.

  3. Tim said on December 24, 2022 at 10:33 pm

    Such steps need clear explanation. Why don’t those at Mozilla do it? Several incomprehensible decisions and now another one… Looks like someone is working for the competing browsers (well, I hope it’s a figment of my imagination).

  4. Iron Heart said on December 24, 2022 at 4:45 pm

    This was done to hide AMP links, and later on, Web Bundles. Both technologies are pushed by Google. The people here except a few are insanely naive.

    Also, add this to the gazillion of settings you need to change after every Firefox installation to make it usable. Until they take the setting away, that is.

  5. hg said on December 24, 2022 at 11:59 am

    More idiocy from Mozilla

  6. hanzy said on December 24, 2022 at 8:46 am

    search terms are always being showed in page titles, and we can simply see them in tabs. this change is so unnecessary.

  7. John said on December 24, 2022 at 12:57 am

    User-hostile move by Mozilla IMO.

    For probably a decade or two now, browsers have been trying to push users away from being in a position where the browser gives me them information about the webpage it’s loading while simultaneously increasing the information the webpage has about them.

    Getting rid of the “https://” and “www” is one example. Most mobile browsers don’t even have an
    *option* to restore that full-time, Iceraven being the main exception I can think of (and thus what I normally use). It’s not a hard option to enable if you’re a browser developer, but it goes against the way the browser companies have decided browsers should be.

    I’ve long predicted that one day, you won’t even have “” in your address bar, but only “Example”, which will be all the browser has decided you need or want to know.

    A web browser should be showing you as much about the webpages you view as you decide you want to know. It’s hard to believe that’s considered a radical notion, but the way all the major web browsers have been moving tells me that they consider it to be one. They don’t even want to give you the option to know.

    On desktop, I mainly use Vivaldi. I have some reservations about Blink/Chromium based browsers for obvious reasons, but Vivaldi gives me enough options, clearly laid out in the GUI, to browse the way I want to browse (For the most part) and to know what I want to know (For the most part). Firefox has started eliminating them or hiding them in about:config (Or even requiring you to create files and code it yourself using directions from the Internet) on desktop, and pretty much said “FU” to anyone who wants options and customizability when they transitioned from version 68 to version 69 on Android. Firefox just positions themselves a little bit to the options friendly side of Chrome figuring you won’t go anywhere because they are still that little bit away from Chrome in your direction, but their user share falling to 3% tells me that people do go somewhere.

    Show the URL in the address bar. By default. That includes search terms. You want to see an example of how obscuring the real URL does more than just hiding information from you that isn’t really relevant to anything? AMP. Look it up. It’s good to know where you are online so you can decide if it’s where you want to be.

    Mozilla does something annoying so frequently that it makes it really hard to consider them as a default browser even in the eventuality that they wind up keeping Manifest v2 extensions around longer and have more user-friendly implementations of Manifest v3 than the rest of them. You will have to deal with a lot of shoes that have already dropped to get that, and than you’ll be waiting on the next shoe to drop that eliminates that advantage, too.

    I agree with most of Mozilla’s liberal politics, so this isn’t the usual politically driven Mozilla complaint. This is entirely a disagreement with the way they’ve been heading with their browsers lately.

  8. Jek Porkins said on December 24, 2022 at 12:39 am

    Firefox to me feel like the Apple of browsers. They announce some new feature and market it like they have invented something revolutionary.

  9. Fiordilatte said on December 24, 2022 at 12:32 am

    What is happening with Mozilla? This organization used to be something I looked up to, but now I think they are just as bad as any other major technology company. Instead of fixing actual faults, this is further nitpicking for features that nobody has asked for. What issue is resolved by using the search keyword rather than the complete URL? In fact, it worsens the situation because we are no longer able to change the tracking parameter or check to see whether we are being diverted to a Google or Microsoft data mining effort. The user interface must stop being made too simple. So tired of it!

  10. Cor Invictus said on December 23, 2022 at 9:38 pm

    Because they don’t want people to see the generated URL and all the tracking garbage in it. Beleieve it or not, most people use browsers at their default settings and don’t tweak, disable, or install any addons, and Mozilla and Google know that very well.

  11. J. Tripper said on December 23, 2022 at 9:28 pm

    Seems to be a security issue not being able to see the whole url, I see this making spoofing a lot easier when you cant see the web address, I also disagreed with the gray lock and trim url feature to add sometime back.

  12. Anonymous said on December 23, 2022 at 9:21 pm

    I just don’t see the point, I just want to know the real address, I don’t want to hide the protocol, nor the www subdomain, nor the path, nor replace the entire thing with the search keywords.

  13. SaveFirefox said on December 23, 2022 at 8:40 pm


    By default, Firefox shouldnt hide either the search engine used or the exact url.
    The only reason for either would be to hide tracking parameters or imply no tracking happened because a different url is displayed rather than the real one (ie signed exchanges/web bundles/AMP).

    Firefox nowadays takes so much effort to un-mess its no wonder Brave is killing it. By default it integrates many features and implementations you previously needed over a dozen addons, most of which arent even made usable by mobile Firefox

  14. slumbergod said on December 23, 2022 at 8:00 pm

    Yet another stupid decision by Mozilla.
    Yet another thing to undo with hacks.

  15. Yash said on December 23, 2022 at 7:27 pm

    Restore classic feature in Firefox should become a new category on this website so it becomes easily accessible. Sure Firefox is good, I use it but why change something which doesn’t add anything meaningful? Anyway rant over.

  16. 12bytes said on December 23, 2022 at 5:01 pm

    more stupidity from the M@M’s (Morons@Mozilla, corporate i mean) which i would guess will result in a hastening of their race to the bottom

    don’t get me wrong – i absolutely recommend FF as the less-sh***y browser along with a LOT of tweaking (arkenfox, etc.) for anyone that cares about privacy, but i have near zero respect for the clowns at Mozilla corporate

  17. Tom Hawack said on December 23, 2022 at 4:30 pm

    1- “browser.urlbar.showSearchTerms.enabled” is implemented already here in Firefox 108.0 (pref is “true) though nonfunctional I guess (*).

    2- Does this latest “search term instead of the Search Engine’s address” (for default search engine only) apply as well when the search bar is in the urlbar? This is my case which explains the (*) above.

    3- The concept of replacing the search engine’s address with the search term, even for only the default search engine is, IMVHO, basically nonsense. I linger to understand the benefit unless to consider that given the lengthy search engine’s address when the query it includes is followed by a consistent suite of url parameters, those that track such as utm and so on, an area where Google excels, may disturb the newbie. It does disturb but the medicine is to have clean search url parameters, not to hide them. Here they’re removed thanks to the excellent ‘CleanLinks’ Firefox extension which, even though I avoid Google Search as a moneylender avoids an unemployed.

    4- Whatever the scheme the urlbar must include the entire address, in ALL circumstances.

    Once this this exotic decision carried out it will be : pref(“general.warnOnAboutConfig”, false);
    In fact given the pref’s fetus is already included in FF108 I’ll add it immediately as ‘false’ in order to avoid the amazingly odd effect once the pref born in upcoming FF update.

    1. Tom Hawack said on December 23, 2022 at 4:38 pm

      EDIT :

      pref(“browser.urlbar.showSearchTerms.enabled”, false);
      pref(“general.warnOnAboutConfig”, false);

      Must have been in the clipboard and remained when incorrectly copying the correct pref …

      1. Tachy said on December 23, 2022 at 6:12 pm


        Odd, I would’ve guessed you for an ESR user.

        The pref is present in ESR 02.6 as well. I was set to boolean, it is now set to false.


        Good one, thank you.

      2. Tom Hawack said on December 23, 2022 at 6:42 pm

        @Tachy, I’m running Firefox 108.0. I’ve never ran ESRs
        Curious to know what makes you think I’d be using a Firefox ESR …

      3. Name said on December 24, 2022 at 6:25 pm

        @Tom Hawack
        Because your are pro or at least very skillful amateur.

      4. Tachy said on December 23, 2022 at 6:15 pm

        EDIT: ESR 102.6

        The “1/!” key on my 24 year old PS2 Microsoft Natural Elite keyboard has began to fail :(

  18. Steve said on December 23, 2022 at 4:09 pm

    Agree with Martin “I do not see any gain in the change”.

    None of the other major browsers seem to do this, not sure why Mozilla thinks this is a good idea.

    At this point I just want a browser that stops auto-enabling new features and stays out of my way.

    Edge is by far the worst for this. Firefox is also pretty annoying with it’s service push.

    The only major browsers that seem to do this minimally or not at all are Brave and Vivaldi. Brave still auto enables it’s sponsored backgrounds and displays in-browser pop-ups for it’s other features.

    Haven’t used Vivaldi enough to know if this is an issue there. ¯\_(?)_/¯

  19. Anonymous said on December 23, 2022 at 3:45 pm

    Now You: what is your take on this development?

    euwww, ughhh, ptuiii.

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