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How to get the old search bar back?

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Back in 2015, Firefox's search bar became completely un-useable. Since then, I've fixed the problem with Classic Theme Restorer, but that add-on is no longer supported.

So how do we get the old search bar back? How are people supposed to search without a proper search bar?

For the record, I count…

4 SERIOUS PROBLEMS WITH THE NEW SEARCH BAR:

1. The new search bar was supposed to make searching faster. What a lie! It takes just as many clicks as the old bar, except it's now much SLOWER because you have to select the search engine EVERY SINGLE TIME you search!

2. Another thing slowing it down is the lack of text labels on the icons: You're now forced to look through a bunch of icons to find the engine you want! This is crazy! Can you imagine if they printed phone books with no names, only pages full of 'icons' of the different services!? Would that "speed things up"? Never!

3. Most people regularly use MORE THAN ONE engine (e.g. Google, YouTube, Spotify, Twitter, etc.). So why are we forced to pick one "default" engine? Imagine if your fridge asked you to choose one "default food", then every time you went to the fridge it always took out that one thing unless you told it otherwise! How irritating!

4. Perhaps the most deeply annoying thing about the new search is that the search process is now BACKWARDS to the user's thought process. When people search the web, we ALWAYS know what KIND of media we're searching for FIRST and THEN we think of the search query. Can you imagine if a guy took a girl on a date and asked her "Please give me the name of the movie or meal you want" and THEN AFTERWARDS asked her if she'd prefer a movie or a meal? That's exactly what the new search bar does!

This is a plea for help, but also an appeal to Mozilla to fix the crazy new search bar. (If devs are reading, I'm an interactive designer and I'd be more than happy to provide details of a perfectly elegant solution for how the bar can be adjusted to accommodate fans of both the old and new style.)

Back in 2015, Firefox's search bar became completely un-useable. Since then, I've fixed the problem with Classic Theme Restorer, but that add-on is no longer supported. So how do we get the old search bar back? How are people supposed to search without a proper search bar? For the record, I count… 4 SERIOUS PROBLEMS WITH THE NEW SEARCH BAR: 1. The new search bar was supposed to make searching faster. What a lie! It takes just as many clicks as the old bar, except it's now much SLOWER because you have to select the search engine EVERY SINGLE TIME you search! 2. Another thing slowing it down is the lack of text labels on the icons: You're now forced to look through a bunch of icons to find the engine you want! This is crazy! Can you imagine if they printed phone books with no names, only pages full of 'icons' of the different services!? Would that "speed things up"? Never! 3. Most people regularly use MORE THAN ONE engine (e.g. Google, YouTube, Spotify, Twitter, etc.). So why are we forced to pick one "default" engine? Imagine if your fridge asked you to choose one "default food", then every time you went to the fridge it always took out that one thing unless you told it otherwise! How irritating! 4. Perhaps the most deeply annoying thing about the new search is that the search process is now BACKWARDS to the user's thought process. When people search the web, we ALWAYS know what KIND of media we're searching for FIRST and THEN we think of the search query. Can you imagine if a guy took a girl on a date and asked her "Please give me the name of the movie or meal you want" and THEN AFTERWARDS asked her if she'd prefer a movie or a meal? That's exactly what the new search bar does! This is a plea for help, but also an appeal to Mozilla to fix the crazy new search bar. (If devs are reading, I'm an interactive designer and I'd be more than happy to provide details of a perfectly elegant solution for how the bar can be adjusted to accommodate fans of both the old and new style.)

Chosen solution

I realize this is painful, but the current search bar design debuted in Firefox 34 and given the passage of time, I highly doubt any fundamental change is forthcoming. Other than to some day get rid of it completely (hopefully not any time soon!).

Let's distinguish the two aspects of this change:

(1) Appearance: icon only vs. icon + name (2) Behavior: how you interact with the search engines

I can help you change #1, and I can explain how to work most efficiently with #2, but there's no way to change #2. Here we go.

Using the Bar

Seeing your current default search engine

OLD BAR: icon in the search bar NEW BAR: listed at top of drop-down

To use the current default search engine, enter your query and press Enter or click the arrow. No need to click anything on the drop-down.

What if you want to send your search to a different site, first making that site your default search engine?

OLD BAR: click the new default site (or arrow down to it and press Enter) NEW BAR: right-click the new default site, Set As Default Search Engine (or Ctrl+arrow to cycle through them)

Then enter your query and press Enter or click the arrow.

What if you want to send your search to a different site WITHOUT making that site your default search engine (one-time search)?

OLD BAR: not possible NEW BAR: enter your query first, then click the button for the site (or arrow down to it and press Enter)

Bar Appearance

Many parts of Firefox's UI can be restyled using custom style rules. You can apply those rules by creating a userChrome.css file. Allow 10 minutes for this.

To generate custom style rules for the search bar

I have a style recipe generator here:

https://www.jeffersonscher.com/gm/search-bar-names.html

Using those rules in a userChrome.css file

I have a website with more information: https://www.userchrome.org/

And a new comparison video here: Firefox Old Search Bar vs. Restyled New Bar.

Read this answer in context 4
Seburo
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815 solutions 6040 answers

Hi

Photon is a new design that creates a fluid, native experience on every operating system. There is more room above the tabs, the search bar and address bar now have the option to be combined or separated, and the menus in Firefox are organized by common tasks.

In order to customize all your favorite functions, you can use the ‘Customize’ setting in this new menu. See the Customize Firefox controls, buttons and toolbars article for more info and follow this to add the search bar back into Firefox.

Hi Photon is a new design that creates a fluid, native experience on every operating system. There is more room above the tabs, the search bar and address bar now have the option to be combined or separated, and the menus in Firefox are organized by common tasks. In order to customize all your favorite functions, you can use the ‘Customize’ setting in this new menu. See the [[Customize Firefox controls, buttons and toolbars]] article for more info and follow this to add the search bar back into Firefox.

Helpful Reply

Thank you Seburo but that doesn't help me to revert the search bar to how it was in 2014.

Thank you Seburo but that doesn't help me to revert the search bar to how it was in 2014.
the-edmeister
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5411 solutions 40297 answers

Not possible to have the old Search Bar functionality out back in Firefox Quantum. Classic Theme Restorer did have that feature after Firefox 43 when the about:config "toggle" for the old Search Bar code was removed, but the new WebExtension format used in Quantum doesn't allow for that type of code be added back into Firefox.


I have been using this User Style in Stylish since Firefox 43: https://userstyles.org/styles/122214/firefox-search-bar-show-engine-names-firefox-43 It was a long way off from the old Search Bar in multiple ways, but it was a livable facsimile of it. The big fault with that is that "you" still have to fiddle with changing the Default Search Engine OR remember to select the search engine that you want to use - every time. Quite honestly, that "feature" is one of the main reasons that I am still using Firefox 38 ESR in my main Profile; I have 5 different versions of Firefox installed, each with its own Profile, on a weekly basis. And 2 that I switch between every day.


Problem is getting that code! When viewing that UserStyles page with the Stylish or Stylo extensions installed there is a View CSS button that open a text area with the code.

It does work in Firefox 57 when placed in a userChrome.css file. https://www.userchrome.org/

To use that UserStyle in Firefox 57: First - I select the Advanced Style Settings to suit my needs and use the View CSS Code button to open the "text mode box" in that page. Second - I used Copy'n'Paste with that code into a text editor. Third - I then pasted that code into a userChrome.css file and placed that file into the /chrome/ folder. Fourth - launch Firefox and see it in place.

Pain on the @$$, but it does make a bit of an improvement - the main one being the text name for the search engine in a list, rather than icons on a grid. Big thing for me because I have 6 different custom Google search engines, with the same older Google icon, that I got from the Mycroft Project website or that I created there. http://mycroftproject.com/ Used to be hosted by MozDev [Mozilla Development] until it was split off 5 or 6 years ago.

Not possible to have the old Search Bar functionality out back in Firefox Quantum. Classic Theme Restorer did have that feature after Firefox 43 when the about:config "toggle" for the old Search Bar code was removed, but the new WebExtension format used in Quantum doesn't allow for that type of code be added back into Firefox. ------------------------------------ I have been using this User Style in Stylish since Firefox 43: https://userstyles.org/styles/122214/firefox-search-bar-show-engine-names-firefox-43 It was a long way off from the old Search Bar in multiple ways, but it was a livable facsimile of it. The big fault with that is that "you" still have to fiddle with changing the Default Search Engine OR remember to select the search engine that you want to use - every time. ''Quite honestly, that "feature" is one of the main reasons that I am still using Firefox 38 ESR in my main Profile; I have 5 different versions of Firefox installed, each with its own Profile, on a weekly basis. And 2 that I switch between every day.'' ------------------------------- Problem is getting that code! When viewing that UserStyles page with the Stylish or Stylo extensions installed there is a '''View CSS''' button that open a text area with the code. It does work in Firefox 57 when placed in a userChrome.css file. https://www.userchrome.org/ To use that UserStyle in Firefox 57: First - I select the '''Advanced Style Settings''' to suit my needs and use the '''View CSS Code''' button to open the "text mode box" in that page. Second - I used Copy'n'Paste with that code into a text editor. Third - I then pasted that code into a userChrome.css file and placed that file into the '''/chrome/''' folder. Fourth - launch Firefox and see it in place. Pain on the @$$, but it does make a bit of an improvement - the main one being the text name for the search engine in a list, rather than icons on a grid. Big thing for me because I have 6 different custom Google search engines, with the same older Google icon, that I got from the Mycroft Project website or that I created there. http://mycroftproject.com/ ''Used to be hosted by MozDev [Mozilla Development] until it was split off 5 or 6 years ago.''
jscher2000
  • Top 10 Contributor
8788 solutions 71868 answers

Chosen Solution

I realize this is painful, but the current search bar design debuted in Firefox 34 and given the passage of time, I highly doubt any fundamental change is forthcoming. Other than to some day get rid of it completely (hopefully not any time soon!).

Let's distinguish the two aspects of this change:

(1) Appearance: icon only vs. icon + name (2) Behavior: how you interact with the search engines

I can help you change #1, and I can explain how to work most efficiently with #2, but there's no way to change #2. Here we go.

Using the Bar

Seeing your current default search engine

OLD BAR: icon in the search bar NEW BAR: listed at top of drop-down

To use the current default search engine, enter your query and press Enter or click the arrow. No need to click anything on the drop-down.

What if you want to send your search to a different site, first making that site your default search engine?

OLD BAR: click the new default site (or arrow down to it and press Enter) NEW BAR: right-click the new default site, Set As Default Search Engine (or Ctrl+arrow to cycle through them)

Then enter your query and press Enter or click the arrow.

What if you want to send your search to a different site WITHOUT making that site your default search engine (one-time search)?

OLD BAR: not possible NEW BAR: enter your query first, then click the button for the site (or arrow down to it and press Enter)

Bar Appearance

Many parts of Firefox's UI can be restyled using custom style rules. You can apply those rules by creating a userChrome.css file. Allow 10 minutes for this.

To generate custom style rules for the search bar

I have a style recipe generator here:

https://www.jeffersonscher.com/gm/search-bar-names.html

Using those rules in a userChrome.css file

I have a website with more information: https://www.userchrome.org/

And a new comparison video here: Firefox Old Search Bar vs. Restyled New Bar.

I realize this is painful, but the current search bar design debuted in Firefox '''34''' and given the passage of time, I highly doubt any fundamental change is forthcoming. Other than to some day get rid of it completely (hopefully not any time soon!). Let's distinguish the two aspects of this change: (1) Appearance: icon only vs. icon + name (2) Behavior: how you interact with the search engines I can help you change #1, and I can explain how to work most efficiently with #2, but there's no way to change #2. Here we go. '''Using the Bar''' ''Seeing your current default search engine'' OLD BAR: icon in the search bar NEW BAR: listed at top of drop-down To use the current default search engine, enter your query and press Enter or click the arrow. No need to click anything on the drop-down. ''What if you want to send your search to a different site, first making that site your default search engine?'' OLD BAR: click the new default site (or arrow down to it and press Enter) NEW BAR: right-click the new default site, Set As Default Search Engine (or Ctrl+arrow to cycle through them) Then enter your query and press Enter or click the arrow. ''What if you want to send your search to a different site WITHOUT making that site your default search engine (one-time search)?'' OLD BAR: ''not possible'' NEW BAR: enter your query first, then click the button for the site (or arrow down to it and press Enter) '''Bar Appearance''' Many parts of Firefox's UI can be restyled using custom style rules. You can apply those rules by creating a userChrome.css file. Allow 10 minutes for this. ''To generate custom style rules for the search bar'' I have a style recipe generator here: https://www.jeffersonscher.com/gm/search-bar-names.html ''Using those rules in a userChrome.css file'' I have a website with more information: https://www.userchrome.org/ And a new comparison video here: [https://vimeo.com/245639066 Firefox Old Search Bar vs. Restyled New Bar].
jscher2000
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8788 solutions 71868 answers

MartyJames said

I'm an interactive designer and I'd be more than happy to provide details of a perfectly elegant solution for how the bar can be adjusted to accommodate fans of both the old and new style.

You might try a forum like the following:

https://discourse.mozilla.org/c/firefox-development

''MartyJames [[#question-1192499|said]]'' <blockquote> I'm an interactive designer and I'd be more than happy to provide details of a perfectly elegant solution for how the bar can be adjusted to accommodate fans of both the old and new style. </blockquote> You might try a forum like the following: https://discourse.mozilla.org/c/firefox-development

Helpful Reply

edmeister,

Thank you so much! The User Style link you gave is excellent!

jscher,

Ah, the man himself! Thanks for you User Style code, and your detailed answer! :)

I had no trouble installing and using your User Style code. It instantly obliterated the major problem with the search bar's appearance! :)

I love the two-column view, with 4-pixel vertical gaps between lines. It's a big improvement on even the old search bar appearance. (Although personally I'd prefer if the engines were ordered top to bottom rather than left to right, but that's a minor thing).

As for functionality, I had no idea you could right-click on engines to set them as default. Why doesn't Firefox make this clear? I'll bet 99% of users don't know about this, and at least 30% would find it very useful.

The trouble is, I wouldn't want to right click on engines and make them default as it messes with the order. And I've got my engines in a specific logical order that I can remember. I don't ever want that to change.

Thanks for your link to your site, which I will have a good read through. Thanks also for the link to the development forum! :)

'''edmeister,''' Thank you so much! The User Style link you gave is excellent! '''jscher,''' Ah, the man himself! Thanks for you User Style code, and your detailed answer! :) I had no trouble installing and using your User Style code. It instantly obliterated the major problem with the search bar's appearance! :) I love the two-column view, with 4-pixel vertical gaps between lines. It's a big improvement on even the old search bar appearance. (Although personally I'd prefer if the engines were ordered top to bottom rather than left to right, but that's a minor thing). As for functionality, I had no idea you could right-click on engines to set them as default. Why doesn't Firefox make this clear? I'll bet 99% of users don't know about this, and at least 30% would find it very useful. The trouble is, I wouldn't want to right click on engines and make them default as it messes with the order. And I've got my engines in a specific logical order that I can remember. I don't ever want that to change. Thanks for your link to your site, which I will have a good read through. Thanks also for the link to the development forum! :)
jscher2000
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8788 solutions 71868 answers

MartyJames said

I love the two-column view, with 4-pixel vertical gaps between lines. It's a big improvement on even the old search bar appearance. (Although personally I'd prefer if the engines were ordered top to bottom rather than left to right, but that's a minor thing).

That might be possible. The current method is the laziest possible: make the segments half the width and let them wrap naturally. But CSS does have the concept of columns that flow from top to bottom, then left to right. I've used it for the bookmarks menu (https://userstyles.org/styles/119797/bookmarks-menu-in-multiple-columns).

The trouble is, I wouldn't want to right click on engines and make them default as it messes with the order. And I've got my engines in a specific logical order that I can remember. I don't ever want that to change.

Oh. Hmm. I don't see a solution for how Firefox moves the default search engine from the "one-offs" list to the top. There's no hidden placeholder left behind to reveal. That would be a good tweak to the current bar to make changes less disorienting. I can't imagine it would be difficult to NOT omit the default search engine when drawing the list.

''MartyJames [[#answer-1045326|said]]'' <blockquote>I love the two-column view, with 4-pixel vertical gaps between lines. It's a big improvement on even the old search bar appearance. (Although personally I'd prefer if the engines were ordered top to bottom rather than left to right, but that's a minor thing).</blockquote> That might be possible. The current method is the laziest possible: make the segments half the width and let them wrap naturally. But CSS does have the concept of columns that flow from top to bottom, then left to right. I've used it for the bookmarks menu ([https://userstyles.org/styles/119797/bookmarks-menu-in-multiple-columns]). <blockquote> The trouble is, I wouldn't want to right click on engines and make them default as it messes with the order. And I've got my engines in a specific logical order that I can remember. I don't ever want that to change. </blockquote> Oh. Hmm. I don't see a solution for how Firefox moves the default search engine from the "one-offs" list to the top. There's no hidden placeholder left behind to reveal. That would be a good tweak to the current bar to make changes less disorienting. I can't imagine it would be difficult to NOT omit the default search engine when drawing the list.

Question owner

jscher2000 said

Oh. Hmm. I don't see a solution for how Firefox moves the default search engine from the "one-offs" list to the top. There's no hidden placeholder left behind to reveal. That would be a good tweak to the current bar to make changes less disorienting. I can't imagine it would be difficult to NOT omit the default search engine when drawing the list.

The obvious solution is that the default engine shouldn't be removed from the list. It should always appear in the list, perhaps highlighted to show it's the default. To further clarify what your default engine is, its icon should also appear next to the search box, as with the old search.

''jscher2000 [[#answer-1045442|said]]'' <blockquote> Oh. Hmm. I don't see a solution for how Firefox moves the default search engine from the "one-offs" list to the top. There's no hidden placeholder left behind to reveal. That would be a good tweak to the current bar to make changes less disorienting. I can't imagine it would be difficult to NOT omit the default search engine when drawing the list. </blockquote> The obvious solution is that the default engine shouldn't be removed from the list. It should always appear in the list, perhaps highlighted to show it's the default. To further clarify what your default engine is, its icon should also appear next to the search box, as with the old search.
jscher2000
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I think a good place to make a proposal would be:

https://discourse.mozilla.org/c/firefox-development

I think a good place to make a proposal would be: https://discourse.mozilla.org/c/firefox-development
gabmax 0 solutions 1 answers

There’s another reason why Firefox Quantum should have the previous/old search bar: when in a certain moment you want to make a few searches and you also need autocompletion from a particular search site that you usually won’t set as your favorite one (e.g. Wikipedia, WordReference, Youtube): it was better and faster to be able to change the default search engine with 2 clicks (so I’ll have the autocompletion from that search site instead) than having to enter the search configuration to change it all the times I need so (this is a big waste of time). Also it’s was way better to have the name of the default search engine shown in the search bar because making all those changes makes you forget which one is the browser’s current default search engine.

My suggestion to improve the search bar is this one: revert to the appearance and functions of the previous/old search bar and give the right-click button the less-desired options “Go to this [search engine’s] homepage” and “Search in new tab”.

And about losing the option of sending your search to a different site without making that site your default search engine (one-time search), my guess is that few people will miss this function because it’s not so common to do only a search (or even only two consecutive searches) within certain engine (maybe except Google or your favorite search engine).

There’s another reason why Firefox Quantum should have the previous/old search bar: when in a certain moment you want to make a few searches and you also need autocompletion from a particular search site that you usually won’t set as your favorite one (e.g. Wikipedia, WordReference, Youtube): it was better and faster to be able to change the default search engine with 2 clicks (so I’ll have the autocompletion from that search site instead) than having to enter the search configuration to change it all the times I need so (this is a big waste of time). Also it’s was way better to have the name of the default search engine shown in the search bar because making all those changes makes you forget which one is the browser’s current default search engine. My suggestion to improve the search bar is this one: revert to the appearance and functions of the previous/old search bar and give the right-click button the less-desired options “Go to this [search engine’s] homepage” and “Search in new tab”. And about losing the option of sending your search to a different site without making that site your default search engine (one-time search), my guess is that few people will miss this function because it’s not so common to do only a search (or even only two consecutive searches) within certain engine (maybe except Google or your favorite search engine).
cor-el
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Or add .css to the link... *https://userstyles.org/styles/122214/firefox-search-bar-show-engine-names-firefox-43.css
olki 0 solutions 1 answers

Yahoo paid Mozilla good money for each request coming from Firefox. Mozilla worked hard on this fraud.

(1) Silently downgraded search to Yahoo and removed Google search (2) Replace informative search icon with some meaningless bs:

  (a) Layman accent the fate. Updates screw them up all the time and resistance is futile
  (b) Advanced users would at least make a couple of searches before they notice this deception

(3) Broke ALL plugins by forcing Firefox Quantuum Jail

third one was the most harmful and effective. I am sick of downloading new addons to replace those broken by Firefox update. And those updates are bloody frequent. Developers have it worse. How woud you feel if some reckless guy breaks your stuff every month?

Results: (1 ) worked well - they kept it for a while (2a) Probably worked, but Google payed more and it was restored (2b) Was ok. Advanced users unbreak FF with addons or switch to Opera/Chrome. But geeks market share is small, so who cares. (3 ) Cruel and effective like A-bombing

=====

Mozilla doesn't hesitate when it comes to money. Yahoo payed for a small favor with search engine fraud and Mozilla screwed up users without any hesitation.

Should we trust Mozilla on more serious matters? Think about user emails, passwords, credit cards. Clearly Mozilla is eager to sell and this data is much more profitable.

Yahoo paid Mozilla good money for each request coming from Firefox. Mozilla worked hard on this fraud. (1) Silently downgraded search to Yahoo and removed Google search (2) Replace informative search icon with some meaningless bs: (a) Layman accent the fate. Updates screw them up all the time and resistance is futile (b) Advanced users would at least make a couple of searches before they notice this deception (3) Broke ALL plugins by forcing Firefox Quantuum Jail third one was the most harmful and effective. I am sick of downloading new addons to replace those broken by Firefox update. And those updates are bloody frequent. Developers have it worse. How woud you feel if some reckless guy breaks your stuff every month? Results: (1 ) worked well - they kept it for a while (2a) Probably worked, but Google payed more and it was restored (2b) Was ok. Advanced users unbreak FF with addons or switch to Opera/Chrome. But geeks market share is small, so who cares. (3 ) Cruel and effective like A-bombing ================= Mozilla doesn't hesitate when it comes to money. Yahoo payed for a small favor with search engine fraud and Mozilla screwed up users without any hesitation. Should we trust Mozilla on more serious matters? Think about user emails, passwords, credit cards. Clearly Mozilla is eager to sell and this data is much more profitable.