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What is the purpose of the search box (Firefox 48+)?

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  • Last reply by jscher2000

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A big reason why I didn't leave firefox years ago when everybody was going Chrome was because of the search box (https://support.cdn.mozilla.net/media/uploads/images/2014-05-22-11-30-43-51990a.png). I have more than a dozen sites there that I got from Mycroft and I use it anywhere from looking something up on ebay to search for subtitles. I usually do it in conjunction with the context menu (selected text, right click and search used to lookup the word using the active engine in the search box, which I changed depending on what I wanted to look for). Now I see that changing engines in the searchbox just takes me to the site in question, it doesn't seem to change the "active" search engine in the search box. Is this how it's supposed to work? If it is then _what_ is the purpose of having the search box there?

To be clear, I already found an addon that adds a context search menu that is quite useful but this post is to find out what the search box is supposed to accomplish in firefox now and if it can be customized to behave the way it did before.

Modified by rpgmaker

Chosen solution

rpgmaker said

Now I see that changing engines in the searchbox just takes me to the site in question, it doesn't seem to change the "active" search engine in the search box. Is this how it's supposed to work? If it is then _what_ is the purpose of having the search box there?

There was an idea that you might want to re-run the query in the search box on a different site, without changing your default. Thus, the invention of "one-off" buttons.

To change your default in the drop-down itself, you can use either of these methods:

  • right-click the relevant icon > Set as Default Search Engine
  • with your cursor in the search bar text entry area, hold down the Ctrl key and use the up/down arrows - the gray bar directly below the text entry area will show the current default as it changes

Are these undocumented? One would hope they have made their way into one of the help articles by now.

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See this to learn how the "new" search bar works: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/use-search-bar-firefox

There are a variety of ways to get the "old" search bar scheme back or a close approximation of how it used to work. https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/old-search-fixed2/ or https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/classicthemerestorer/ - which does a whole lot more than provide a "retro" search bar or https://userstyles.org/styles/122214/firefox-search-bar-show-engine-names-firefox-43 - a UserStyle to be used with Stylish

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the-edmeister said

See this to learn how the "new" search bar works: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/use-search-bar-firefox

That link wasn't very detailed and shows what we already know. Is there a way to change the active engine from the drop down menu without changing the default engine? It seems that the only way to use the engines in the list is to start inserting a query in the search box and clicking one of the engines. Context menu search seems to be a no no for other engines besides the default. Or am I mistaken?

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Chosen Solution

rpgmaker said

Now I see that changing engines in the searchbox just takes me to the site in question, it doesn't seem to change the "active" search engine in the search box. Is this how it's supposed to work? If it is then _what_ is the purpose of having the search box there?

There was an idea that you might want to re-run the query in the search box on a different site, without changing your default. Thus, the invention of "one-off" buttons.

To change your default in the drop-down itself, you can use either of these methods:

  • right-click the relevant icon > Set as Default Search Engine
  • with your cursor in the search bar text entry area, hold down the Ctrl key and use the up/down arrows - the gray bar directly below the text entry area will show the current default as it changes

Are these undocumented? One would hope they have made their way into one of the help articles by now.

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rpgmaker said

Context menu search seems to be a no no for other engines besides the default. Or am I mistaken?

The context menu search always uses the current default search engine, yes. I think you have discovered the add-on which expands your choices on the context menu to allow one-time searches of the others. I doubt that will be added to Firefox as a native feature, but then, the UI team is always full of surprises. ;-)

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Ok so as I feared the old functionality is effectively gone but why? What was the point of this change? On its face it doesn't seem to be more useful for anyone, I have to take more steps to use the search box for what it's supposed to do and I could easily do what it does now the old way. I mean, I get that it had to change l&f but the supposed behavior is just so convoluted now it's essentially useless.

Firefox developers have to stop punishing their old (and loyal) users. The chrome people are not going to come back, most of them left because Google was spamming them with chrome in the first place. I know because they were spamming Firefox users too if they stopped updating for like, two x.x.1 versions. Unless you can make mozilla.org the "internet's homepage" and spam those same users they're not coming back. Ironically, I see now that there's one of those "context search" addons for chrome too so if I end up leaving firefox for chrome I will have one less thing to miss :) (it really was the first thing to stop me from leaving years ago).

Modified by rpgmaker

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rpgmaker said

Ok so as I feared the old functionality is effectively gone but why?

What old functionality is gone? Different is not the same as gone. Or am I missing something?

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jscher2000 said

  • right-click the relevant icon > Set as Default Search Engine
  • with your cursor in the search bar text entry area, hold down the Ctrl key and use the up/down arrows - the gray bar directly below the text entry area will show the current default as it changes
The first one doesn't work on Firefox 48 on Linux. In any case it would've been a workaround rather than an actual application of the use case I described. The second it's a convoluted an annoying way of doing it. Why just clicking a given search engine icon doesn't change the active search engine? Amazing. But ok, I concede it: the functionality is there even if convoluted and annoying. As it is it's just easier to just use the address bar for searches a la Chrome. I wonder if they're trying to wean people off the search box in order to make it easier for them to remove it later...

Modified by rpgmaker

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rpgmaker said

jscher2000 said
  • right-click the relevant icon > Set as Default Search Engine
  • with your cursor in the search bar text entry area, hold down the Ctrl key and use the up/down arrows - the gray bar directly below the text entry area will show the current default as it changes
The first one doesn't work on Firefox 48 on Linux.

That's annoying. Do you get the context menu at all?

I wonder if they're trying to wean people off the search box in order to make it easier for them to remove it later...

I heard a year or two ago there was a plan to do that some day, but at this point I have no idea.

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rpgmaker what Linux distro are you using exactly as because if it is Mint then there some issues with the Mint provided package.

from http://forums.mozillazine.org/viewtopic.php?p=14677607#p14677607

I found a bug with Linux Mint.
  1. 1293064 [Firefox:New Tab Page]-Open in New Window /Tab options not working (right click) 48.0 on Linux Mint Cinnamon 18 [Lin]
> This is Linux Mint's package's issue. > > related bugs here > https://bugs.launchpad.net/linuxmint/+bug/1610643 > https://bugs.launchpad.net/linuxmint/+bug/1610716

Where the fix is "Set the distribution.searchplugins.defaultLocale to en-US" ?

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It's ubuntu so maybe but the issue isn't with newTab. At least not on my case. I uninstalled Firefox 48 now so I can't test. Thanks everyone for the help and sorry if I answered coarsely earlier, I was just a little bit frustrated.

jscher2000 said

I heard a year or two ago there was a plan to do that some day, but at this point I have no idea.

Yeah, that's what it seems to me. It's just sad how Firefox devs think the solution to reverse the marketshare decline is the chromeization of firefox. They have this misconception that the vast majority of people flocked to chrome because of merit but, regardless of which one is technically better, the sad truth is that the average user doesn't care about which JS engine is faster, etc. It just so happened that google spammed the heck out of it on its frontpage and that makes a difference. I hope they find their way soon.

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... I chose the wrong post as answer. Is there a way to edit it? If there is a 'solution' here it must be this one: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/questions/1134073#answer-904822

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I think as the original poster you should see a link next to the post that allows you to unmark the solution and then mark a different one, maybe after reloading the page.