What to do when searches take you to the wrong search website

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This article describes what to do when searches from Firefox don't go to the expected site(s). For example, Google searches may redirect to a page with a lot of advertising or using a different search engine.

Note: The Reset Firefox feature can fix many issues by restoring Firefox to its factory default state while saving your essential information. Consider using it before going through a lengthy troubleshooting process.

Only Location bar searches are affected

If a term is entered in the Location bar, Firefox sends a request to your Internet provider to see if the term is actually a website address. If it isn't, Firefox will then do a search using the search engine listed in the keyword.URL preference (for more information, see Search the web from the Address Bar). A number of Internet providers, will instead, redirect you to their own search site.

Make sure that the keyword.URL preference is set to the search site you want and that it's turned on.

  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 FilterSearch field box at the top, type keyword.
  3. Make sure the preference keyword.URL is set to the site you want to use. To reset it to the default, right-clickhold down the Ctrl key while you click on the preference and select Reset.
  4. Make sure the preference keyword.enabled is set to true. If it is not, double-click on it to set it to true.

If a term is entered in the Location bar, Firefox sends a request to your Internet provider to see if the term is actually a website address. If it isn't, Firefox will then do a search using your default search engine (for more information, see Search the web from the Address Bar). A number of Internet providers, will instead, redirect you to their own search site.

Some service providers offer "DNS Assistance" which is what is doing the redirecting. Check with your provider to see if you can opt out of this service.

If you are unable to opt out from your service provider, the following workarounds may help you retain the ability to search from the location bar:

  • Only do multi-word searches from the Location bar. If you put multiple words in your search terms, Firefox will start with a Location bar search. You can often use a dummy word that is ignored by the search engine (such as the + character). For example, you will need to type + searchterm when the search term is one word (that space is important) but only search terms when the search terms are multiple words.
  • You can set up a smart keyword that corresponds to the search and prepend your search with this keyword. For example, you can use the keyword g to search Google. From then on, you would just have to type g searchterm to perform a search from the location bar. For instructions on how to set up smart keywords, see How to search IMDB, Wikipedia and more from the address bar.
  • If you have a router, ask your ISP about changing your DNS server.

All searches are affected

If searching using the search bar and searching directly from the site itself are both being redirected to alternate sites, it is likely that this redirection is being caused by malicious software such as a virus, spyware or trojan installed on your computer. See Troubleshoot Firefox issues caused by malware for instructions to get rid of malware.



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