Awesome Bar - Find your bookmarks, history and tabs when you type in the address bar

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The location bar, also called the URL bar or address bar, displays a site's web address (URL). We call it the Awesome Bar because it remembers those websites you've visited before, guesses where you're trying to go and displays a list of suggested sites you can choose from. The more you use it, the better it gets. This article covers the details of how the location bar autocomplete feature works and will have you using it like a pro in no time.

The location bar can also be used for other types of searches. For more information, you can see:

How to use the autocomplete list

Just start typing in the location bar and the autocomplete drop-down will show matching sites from your browsing history, as well as sites you've bookmarked or tagged. Matched terms are highlighted, making the list of results easy to scan. When you see the site you want, just click on it or use the up and down arrows on your keyboard to highlight it and then press EnterReturn.

Awesome Bar dropdown2 win Awesome Bar dropdown2 mac Awesome Bar dropdown2 lin Awesome 29 - Win Awesome 29 - Mac Awesome 29 - Lin

The part of the entry that matches what you've typed will show in bold. The location bar will display results for:

  • Web addresses from pages in history that match what you have typed
  • Page titles from history that match what you have typed
  • Bookmark titles that match what you have typed
  • Bookmarks with tag names that match what you've typed

The location bar also learns from your browsing behavior. It adjusts results based on how frequently you visit each site, how recently you visited there, and what result you clicked on for the characters or words typed. This way, sites you visit all the time will show up at the top of the list, often after typing only one character.

URL autocomplete

Firefox will also complete URLs of websites that you've been to before. For example, if you type "aw" Firefox may autocomplete "" if you've visited that site in the past. Pressing EnterReturn in this case would take you directly to that address.

URL Autocomplete - Win Autocomplete 29 - Win Autocomplete 29 - Mac Autocomplete 29 - Lin

Prevent Firefox from automatically completing URLs

In addition to the autocomplete list that shows up below the address bar, Firefox will automatically complete URLs in the address bar as you type them. If you want to turn this feature off, follow these steps:

  1. In the Location bar, type about:config and press EnterReturn.

    • The about:config "This might void your warranty!" warning page may appear. Click I'll be careful, I promise! to continue to the about:config page.
  2. In the Search field, type browser.urlbar.autofill.
  3. Double-click the browser.urlbar.autofill preference to set its value to false.

Switch to tab

The location bar also searches through your open tabs, displaying results with a tab icon and the text "Switch to tab". Selecting these results will switch you to the already open tab instead of creating a duplicate.

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To turn off the "Switch to tab" options in the location bar, press the Alt key while viewing the autocomplete dropdown.

Search the web

If the location bar doesn't come up with the result you want (or any results), it just means that it isn't in your history, bookmarks or tags. The good news is that you're not out of luck because you can also search the web right from the location bar. Just press EnterReturn and the term you've entered in the location bar will become a Google searchsearch based on your default search engine. For details, see Search the web from the Address Bar.

What can I do to get the best results?

  • When you want to go to a website you've visited before, type a few letters from its web address or page title. Scroll through the autocomplete entries and find the page in the list (type in another letter if you don't see it listed). Press EnterReturn to go to the selected web address. Firefox will give this entry/result combination higher weight in the future.
  • Do not clear the Browsing History - usually the richest source of autocomplete entries is from the title/web address combination. Clearing browsing history will remove these entries from the results.
  • Bookmark and tag frequently - used pages. The location bar will match on the name you give the bookmark and also tags associated with the bookmark. See the How to use bookmarks to save and organize your favorite websites article for more information on how to use bookmarks in Firefox. You can improve your autocomplete results by tagging pages with easily-typed tag names.

How can I control what results the location bar shows me?

Changing your location bar settings

You can turn off the location bar autocomplete feature or restrict the results to exclude your bookmarks or history:

  1. At the top of the Firefox window, click on the Firefox button and then select OptionsAt the top of the Firefox window, click on the Tools menu and then select OptionsOn the menu bar, click on the Firefox menu and select Preferences...At the top of the Firefox window, click on the Edit menu and select Preferences

    Click the menu button New Fx Menu and choose OptionsPreferences

  2. Select the Privacy panel.
  3. Beside When using the location bar, suggest: select any of the following: Awesome Privacy Win Awesome Privacy Mac
    • History and Bookmarks: Use both browsing history and bookmarks in the autocomplete list.
    • History: Use browsing history in the autocomplete list, but don't use bookmarks.
    • Bookmarks: Use bookmarks in the autocomplete list, but don't use browsing history.
    • Nothing: Turn off the autocomplete list.
  4. Click OK to close the Options windowClick Close to close the Preferences windowClose the Preferences window

Removing autocomplete results

If you want to remove an entry from the autocomplete list:

  1. In the location bar, use the up and down arrow keys on your keyboard to highlight the entry.
  2. Press DeleteShift+Delete to remove the item from the list.

If you want to remove all the history results from the autocomplete list, clear Firefox's Browsing History. See the Remove recent browsing, search and download history article for instructions.

Note: Autocomplete items from bookmarks will not be removed from the results if you attempt to delete them or clear the browsing history. These items have a star. To remove these items, delete the associated bookmark, or exclude bookmarks in the location bar settings.

Changing results on the fly

If you are looking for a specific type of result, like a bookmark or tag, you can speed up the process of finding it by typing in special characters anywhere in the location bar separated by spaces:

  • Add ^ to search for matches in your browsing history.
  • Add * to search for matches in your bookmarks.
  • Add + to search for matches in pages you've tagged.
  • Add % to search for matches in your currently open tabs.
  • Add ~ to search for matches in pages you've typed.
  • Add # to search for matches in page titles.
  • Add @ to search for matches in web addresses (URLs).

For example, if you're looking for a page you bookmarked called Mozilla Firefox Support, you might type mozilla. The autocomplete results appear, but might not show the page you want.

You can narrow your results down to bookmarks only by making your search string mozilla  *.

If you still have too many results, you can further restrict the search by making your search string mozilla  *  support  #. Now the autocomplete list will only show bookmarked pages with mozilla and support in the page title.

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