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my search bar (FF 22) has suddenly become inoperable; hitting enter doesn't do anything (am only getting to sites via bookmarks and links now)

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  • Last reply by aaabooks

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I'm a long-time FF user. Am using version 22 now (which appears to have updated from 18 by itself though I had it set to ask me before updating - but 22 2 worked fine for me once I'd solved the problem of screen being so large it hid my upper menu and tabs). Now suddenly, just in the last week, entering a (valid) url in the search bar and hitting enter doesn't 'do' anything. No search capability at all because hitting enter doesn't cause FF to take any notice of me putting in a URL for a site I want to go to (I use the same sites over and over so not just some new site acting up).

Not my keyboard or mouse malfunctioning; they function as usual in other programs I use constantly - email, inventory database - and no updates on either program, in Word, Excel, NotePad, my photo program, whatever. Security Essentials updated about a week ago but I can't see inside it to see if it changed anything. Am an XP Pro user and keep it updated (till next year, anyway!). Keyboard is an Elite Real Force, mouse Evoluent (corded). Have used both for a couple of years so not new to me.

Only way I can use FF 22 in the last few days to get to 'any' site, including my own, is to either go from the sites pinned to my opening screen or from my bookmarks. I tried unpinning some of the sites on my opening screen and then typing in their URL and hitting enter but that didn't change anything - the search bar is still inoperable and hitting 'enter' doesn't do anything at all.

So why did my search bar quit working? Is there a fix?

Chosen solution

Hi aaabooks

Are you running Firefox in compatibility mode?

You can open the Properties of the Firefox desktop shortcut via the right-click context menu and check the "Compatibility" tab.
Make sure that all items are deselected in the "Compatibility" tab of the Properties window.


Create a new profile as a test to check if your current profile is causing the problems.

See "Creating a profile":

If the new profile works then you can transfer some files from an existing profile to the new profile, but be cautious not to copy corrupted files to avoid carrying over the problem.

Read this answer in context 👍 1

All Replies (13)

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Try Firefox Safe Mode to see if the problem goes away. Safe Mode is a troubleshooting mode, which disables most add-ons.

(If you're not using it, switch to the Default theme.)

  • You can open Firefox 4.0+ in Safe Mode by holding the Shift key when you open the Firefox desktop or Start menu shortcut.
  • Or open the Help menu and click on the Restart with Add-ons Disabled... menu item while Firefox is running.

Once you get the pop-up, just select "'Start in Safe Mode"

If the issue is not present in Firefox Safe Mode, your problem is probably caused by an extension, and you need to figure out which one. Please follow the Troubleshoot extensions, themes and hardware acceleration issues to solve common Firefox problems article for that.

To exit the Firefox Safe Mode, just close Firefox and wait a few seconds before opening Firefox for normal use again.

Please report back soon.

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Unfortunately, your suggestions didn't help.

I opened in Safe Mode; didn't change not being able to use the search bar re my hitting enter causing a search to happen.

I restarted with Add-ons Disabled - same as above.

I haven't added any extensions since I can't remember when - maybe since originally getting FF 18 (I didn't 'choose' to update to FF 22). I always use the 'grey modern' (?right name?) 'look' for FF and probably did that for FF 22 if it didn't 'look' the same as FF 18 but wouldn't have otherwise added an extension.

I even tried clicking on my old icon for FF 18 on my desktop to open it instead of FF 22 but it now defaults to FF 22.

DO YOU HAVE THE URL ON THE MOZILLA SITE WHERE I CAN GO DOWNLOAD FF18 AGAIN? I don't have a bookmark (that I can find) for that page. That would be an enormous help - and I don't seem to be able to find the different versions of FF available page on Mozilla's site.

FF 18 was quite stable for me and I could get to all the sites I need to with it without problems so I'd gladly go back to it instead of staying with FF 22 - if of course my search bar and enter key work with FF 18 now. :>)

I hate IE, and do not want to have to use it; am a real FF fan so long as it works for me. Ditto want nothing to do with Chrome.

By the way did open IE and have NO problems with searches or my enter key with it.

If it helps, I use a destop. No laptop, smart phone or mobile of any type.

Thank you so much for trying to help!! Greatly appreciated!

Modified by aaabooks

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Try updating to the latest Firefox 24 version, using Help > About Firefox.

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I'd really like to go backwards instead of forward and possibly complicate matters even more with running into yet more bugs on a newer version.

This appears to be 'only' a FF problem for me as my search bar and enter key are NOT a problem with IE (do NOT want to be forced to use IE as anything except a backup - dislike it a lot).

Do you have the URL to the page on the Mozilla site where I could go download FF18 again?

By the way, looked at the newest FF upload page and it says my computer setup won't run it - sometime about only available for 32 byte (or is that bite?) setups.

Many thanks for any help!

Modified by aaabooks

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It's strange that your "user agent" string shows NT 4.0 instead of NT 5.1, which is the usual identifier for Windows XP. Maybe this article will help with that: How to reset the default user agent on Firefox.

From your description, I think you mean the address bar or location bar -- usually the term search bar refers to the small bar with with multiple search engines listed in the drop-down.

I don't remember any general problem with the address bar in Firefox 22. Sometimes the file that stores toolbar customizations becomes corrupted. You may want to try resetting those because that file will remain whether you upgrade or downgrade.

Open your current Firefox settings (AKA Firefox profile) folder using

Help > Troubleshooting Information > "Show Folder" button

Switch back to Firefox and Exit

Pause while Firefox finishes its cleanup, then rename localstore.rdf to something like localstore.old

Restart Firefox. Any improvement in the address bar behavior?

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Don't know re the NT 4 vs. 5.1 re XP Pro - have been using it forever it seems but I'm not a tech or programmer (just a pretty good user who understands computers from working for startups in the past - but neither a real software or hardware person). I get either the local repair shop or my site programmer involved in anything that tech.

In fact my computer is probably going to the repair shop Monday unless you guys can help me get FF straightened out over the weekend.

Spoke to repair shop tech this afternoon and he says, regardless of me having Security Essentials and Zone Alarm and also having 3 firewalls (2 modems and software) having been set up by my programmer and me being paranoid about being careless enough to get any bugs, it 'is' possible a bug got through to mess up the location bar (many thanks for setting me straight on what to call it) in FireFox 22 since it had worked properly, except for downloading with 'full screen' enabled, since I've been using it. Sigh! :>)

I know, for the first time ever, Sec. Ess. told me a few nights back that someone was sending me bad stuff and it put a bunch of junk in it's quarantine area that I then deleted entirely. No such happenings since but I guess it's possible that Sec. Ess. let something through at that time (yes, it 'was' up-to-date on definitions).

I'm having a bit of a problem understanding what it is you're suggesting I do above. My problem doesn't have anything to do with my or other sites not loading, displaying or behaving properly - it's just that now when I type a URL in the FF location bar I can't just either hit Enter or click on the Arrow to go to that site. It went from working normally to dead.

For several days now the only way I can get to sites via FF 22 is using bookmarks or the pinned sites on my opening FF screen or clicking on a site in my FF 'History.' My mouse and keyboard work fine everywhere else, including IE as a browser in being able to type in locations and go to them. Just suddenly not in FF22 as far as being able to go to a site I've typed in the location bar, using the Enter key to trigger that action.

I did the Help > Troubleshooting Information > "Show Folder" button bit you said to do but is there something I'm supposed to do re the 'switch back to FF' you speak of? Like click on 'Reset FireFox' to Default State first? If I click on that particular reset button, will it definitely, absolutely save my settings and my zillion bookmarks? Those bookmarks are my 'life' and I'm scared to death of not being able to reimport them (they're not synced; just saved on various drives here since I'm sort of a privacy nut). :>) Or will me just closing that tab to the Troubleshooting page trigger some action by FF now (didn't earlier when I looked at that page is the reason I'm asking)?

If you'll notice above I did earlier today, thanks to someone else's advice, Restart FF in Safe Mode and also restarted it with Add-ons Disabled (did get my bookmarks back doing those 2 things though darned scary since FF said it 'would try to save them' for me). Neither of those 2 actions helped re my location bar problem.

So again, what am I supposed to do precisely? Feel free to speak down to me so I'll understand. :>)

Have to get off the computer and do other things else now but will check here tomorrow afternoon. Many thanks for the help and sorry I wasn't able to quite understand well enough.

P.S. Tonight FF22 has told me 4 times now (twice on an ecommerce news site and twice on 2 different science sites I frequent) that it kept those sites from redirecting me to a different page - something new and no doubt a good thing.

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Going "backwards" to an older version isn't smart, as each successive new version has security fixes that the previous version didn't have. And with you running 3 Firewalls and 2 AV programs, you seem to be concerned about internet security, overly concerned possibly to your detriment.

"Spoke to repair shop tech this afternoon and he says, regardless of me having Security Essentials and Zone Alarm and also having 3 firewalls (2 modems and software) having been set up by my programmer ..."

When you installed Zone Alarm (assuming that is their Anti-Virus application) Security Essentials would be automatically disabled by WinXP. And having three Firewalls installed and running together (if that is even possible) is just looking for weird problems to cause grief. More isn't better where Firewalls are concerned. Multiple modems shouldn't be an issue, as long as you can "connect" and not get "kicked off".

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What does the above have to do with my one current problem with not being able to use the location bar for the last week in FF22?

I'm not complaining about my security setup - the ways Zone Alarm and Security Essentials are configured, they work fine together. Just thought the data might help someone here be able to make a suggestion that would enable a fix of my FF22 problem. I don't have double coverage on particular functions with my security setup because I'm not using every function Zone Alarm offers - too restricting.

The modems and firewalls don't 'hurt' the service I get from my satellite provider - they're just a layer of safety (and privacy) online that my programmer and the repair shop I use have worked out together over time to make my online life more simple with very little down-time. Originally installed when I was on AT&T DSL - their network allowed viruses and trojans through to my computer which drove me nuts.

No longer use AT&T but instead satellite (live out in the country now where no wireless is available because of all our trees) but possible I guess that this one time Security Essentials hiccuped after an update and let something through; will find out Monday - though a real pain and interruption of business to have to send my computer to the shop so I'm trying to avoid it. And yes, I 'am' a privacy nut; my data isn't for sale. :>)

As far as backing up to an older FF version, I've backed up in the past when there were bugs in new versions or features that didn't work with my computer. I don't have the knowledge or time to be a beta tester. Why I had it set where FF isn't supposed to be able to install newer versions without asking me.

So.....does no one have any ideas of what could have caused my FF22 location bar to quit working when it had been working fine before?

Or what the URL is for me to be able to download FF18 instead of taking a chance with FF22 losing my bookmarks if I strip it down to its default state?

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Hi aaabooks, you wrote:

I did the Help > Troubleshooting Information > "Show Folder" button bit you said to do but is there something I'm supposed to do re the 'switch back to FF' you speak of? Like click on 'Reset FireFox' to Default State first?

No, do not use the Reset feature. When you click "Show Folder" Windows opens a Windows Explorer window with your personal settings files listed. I want you to delete a file in that folder, but first, I want Firefox to be closed. When I said to switch back to Firefox and exit, I meant to make Firefox the active window, then use File>Exit or Firefox>Exit to close the application.

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Are you trying to use the Search Bar or the Address Bar.

To find out please look for a search provider icon on the left side of the bar.

Or create a screenshot. More help with screenshots can be found here.

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I'm trying to use the long and to the left address or location, as someone else called it, bar. Not the shorter search engine bar to the right - I just type in names of search engines I want to use (into the location bar), i.e., Google or Ixquick or Bing or whatever.

It is the address/location bar that I can't (now) activate by hitting my Enter key or pressing the arrow to go to a site I'm wanting to go to (even my own site). Been going on about a week; worked fine and as usual before then - with FireFox 22 then, also. Have been using FF22 for around 4-5 months now (updated from FF18).

As I said before, I can only get to sites now using FireFox 22 by 1) using a bookmark, 2) clicking on a link from an email, or 3) clicking on one of the pinned site icons on my opening FF screen.

Let me know if the size of the screen shot is sufficient - I resized it to 12" wide and cropped it so it only showed the top of the screen . Wasn't sure how large you'd want it.

ww.google.com is what is typed into the address/location bar if you can't read it. Again, clicking on the arrow or hitting my enter key does nothing now.

Modified by aaabooks

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Chosen Solution

Hi aaabooks

Are you running Firefox in compatibility mode?

You can open the Properties of the Firefox desktop shortcut via the right-click context menu and check the "Compatibility" tab.
Make sure that all items are deselected in the "Compatibility" tab of the Properties window.


Create a new profile as a test to check if your current profile is causing the problems.

See "Creating a profile":

If the new profile works then you can transfer some files from an existing profile to the new profile, but be cautious not to copy corrupted files to avoid carrying over the problem.

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Thank heavens the first part you told me re FireFox running in compatibility mode cured my problem!! Yea! cor-el, you're a wonder, a genius and the curer of my major headache.

The second part about profiles scared the dickens out of me - way over my head as far as ability on my part; if it can be screwed up I'd have done so. First time I've ever seen that screen - you taught me something new even if I stay away from it and yell for help from my programmer on any future problems. :>)

Thank you so very much. It was checked to run compatible to Windows 95 (no idea how that got checked several days ago; perhaps some combination of key strokes on my part??). So I unchecked it, restarted FireFox and now everything is back to normal with me typing in where I want to go and using my enter key to get there - and I've even learned, thanks to all you kind folks, NOT to call that field where I type in where I want to go to the search bar but instead the location or address bar.

Fingers crossed I don't have to ever come back here and pester you guys again but I am 'very' appreciate of the time you've all taken to help me and all the tips you've all given me. Especially you, cor-el! :>)