Awesome Bar - Search your Firefox bookmarks, history and tabs from the address bar

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The Firefox location bar, also called the URL bar or address bar, displays a page's web address (URL). We call it the Awesome Bar because it remembers those web pages you've visited before, guesses where you're trying to go and displays a list of suggested pages 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 Firefox location bar, also called the URL bar or address bar, displays a page's web address (URL). We call it the Awesome Bar because it remembers those web pages you've visited before, guesses where you're trying to go and displays a list of suggested pages or searches 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 pages from your browsing history, as well as pages you've bookmarked or tagged. Matched terms are highlighted, making the list of results easy to scan. When you see the page you want, just click on it or use the up and down arrows on your keyboard to highlight it and then press EnterReturn.

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Just start typing in the location bar and the autocomplete drop-down will show matching web pages from your browsing history, open tabs, sync'ed web pages, as well as pages you've bookmarked or tagged. Matched terms are highlighted, making the list of results easy to scan. Icons will indicate whether a matching result is an open tab or a bookmark. When you see the page you want, just click on it or use the up and down arrows on your keyboard to highlight it and then press EnterReturn.

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Firefox will also suggest popular search suggestions from the default search engine. See Use popular search suggestions in the Firefox Search bar and Search suggestions in Firefox for more information.

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

  • Web addresses and page titles from your history
  • Page titles, web addresses and tags from your Bookmarks
  • Pages you currently have open in other tabs (see below under Switch to tab)
  • Web addresses and page titles from your history
  • Page titles, web addresses and tags from your Bookmarks
  • Pages you currently have open in other tabs (see below under Switch to tab)
  • Pages that are sync'ed with other devices.

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

URL autocomplete

In addition to the autocomplete drop-down list for pages you've been to before, Firefox will also complete the URL in the location bar. For example, if you type "aw", Firefox may fill in "esomefoundation.org/" to complete the address "awesomefoundation.org" if you've visited that site before. Pressing EnterReturn in this case would take you directly to that address.

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Prevent Firefox from automatically completing URLs

If you want to turn off the feature that automatically fills in URLs as you type in the location bar, you can change a preference setting in the Firefox Configuration Editor (about:config page). Follow these steps:

  1. In the address 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!I accept the risk! to continue to the about:config page.
  2. At the top of the about:config page, type autoFill in the Search field (or scroll through the list to find the browser.urlbar.autoFill preference).
  3. Double-click the browser.urlbar.autoFill preference to set its value to false. (You can then close the about:config page.)
Note: This setting only affects the autocomplete feature that fills in URLs within the location bar. To also turn off or restrict autocomplete results displayed in the drop-down list below the location bar, see How can I control what results the location bar shows me? (below).

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" option temporarily, press the ALT key while clicking on the page in the autocomplete list that appears below your address bar. This will open your page in a new tab instead of switching to an existing one.

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 search 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 web page 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 Create bookmarks to save your favorite webpages 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 open tabs, bookmarks or history:

  1. At the top of the Firefox window, click on the Firefox button and then select Options.At the top of the Firefox window, click on the Tools menu and then select Options.On 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 Options.Preferences.

  2. Select the Privacy panel.
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  3. Beside When using the location bar, suggest: select any of the following:
    • 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 window.Click Close to close the Preferences window.Close the Preferences window. Close the about:preferences page. Any changes you've made will automatically be saved.

  1. At the top of the Firefox window, click on the Firefox button and then select Options.At the top of the Firefox window, click on the Tools menu and then select Options.On 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 Options.Preferences.

  2. Select the Privacy panel.
  3. Below Location Bar, select any of the following:
    location bar
    • History: suggests pages that you've previously visited.
    • Bookmarks: suggests pages that you've bookmarked.
    • Open Tabs: suggests pages that you have open in another tab.
  4. Click OK to close the Options window.Click Close to close the Preferences window.Close the Preferences window. Close the about:preferences page. Any changes you've made will automatically be saved.

  1. At the top of the Firefox window, click on the Firefox button and then select Options.At the top of the Firefox window, click on the Tools menu and then select Options.On 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 Options.Preferences.

  2. Select the Privacy panel.
  3. Below Location Bar, select any of the following:
    location bar settings 43
    • History: suggests pages that you've previously visited.
    • Bookmarks: suggests pages that you've bookmarked.
    • Open Tabs: suggests pages that you have open in another tab.
    • Change preferences for search engine suggestions…: To enable or disable search engine suggestions, click this link to be taken to the Search settings panel. Add a check mark next to Provide search suggestions there to enable search suggestions from your preferred search engine for the Search bar, home page and New Tab page, or remove the check mark to disable them. To enable or disable search engine suggestions for the location bar, add or remove a check mark next to Show search suggestions in location bar results.
  4. Click OK to close the Options window.Click Close to close the Preferences window.Close the Preferences window. Close the about:preferences page. Any changes you've made will automatically be saved.

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 Delete browsing, search and download history on Firefox 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 after each search term 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).
  • Add $ to search for matches in suggestions.

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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