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

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.

Awesome 29 - Win Awesome 29 - Mac Awesome 29 - Lin

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.

Awesome 29 - Win Awesome 29 - Mac Awesome 29 - Lin
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.

Autocomplete 29 - Win Autocomplete 29 - Mac Autocomplete 29 - Lin

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.

Switch tab 29 - Win Switch tab 29 - Mac Switch tab 29 - Lin
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. Click the menu button New Fx Menu and choose Options.Preferences.
  2. Select the Privacy panel.
    Awesome Privacy Win Awesome Privacy Mac
  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. Close the about:preferences page. Any changes you've made will automatically be saved.
  1. 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. Close the about:preferences page. Any changes you've made will automatically be saved.
  1. 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. 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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Comments
jj-ff

How can I make the suggest list to display more than the default five entries ? I'd prefer twenty or thirty of them.

See /forums/knowledge-base-articles/705120 for related discussions about this article.

"Awesome bar" feature background:

Bug 393508 - Mockup: Location Bar Autocomplete for Firefox 3

Bug 405745 - [meta] improve url bar autocomplete results

bugmenot

browser.urlbar.restrict.typed is set to ~. Is the % in the article a mistake or does it to something else than what ~ does? At least the function of ~ should be mentioned.

  • browser.urlbar.restrict.openpage is set to % by default and the description in the article is correct: search for pages in currently open tabs that match what you've typed.
  • browser.urlbar.restrict.typed is set to ~ by default. It'd be added in the article search for pages that match what you've typed.

The number of entries in the suggest list is 6. I don't think it is settable by a pref and a common request from users.

whitefeather

is there a way to make the location bar actually autocomplete? Like say when i type in www.g it would automatically finish it to say www.google.com and can I get rid of all the annoying extra text so that I wont have two lines for every thing in my history. One is enough!

Autocomplete has different meanings according to the context. Here, it means autosuggest.

By default, the location bar is not autofill or autotype. To do this, in the about:config page, set browser.urlbar.autofill to true and restart Firefox.

I think the changes for Fx 14 (url autocomplete) require a little reorganizing of the article.

I'm submitting a revision that adds a sub-section on url autocomplete. I also took the last section of the article which was about the about:config pref for turning this on and restated it for fx 14 as turning the feature off. I then moved it (for fx 14 only) into the new section about the feature. I also retitled the other sections in this half of the article to be more consistent with each other.

Hey Verdi. This all looks good. I'm gonna approve it and mark it ready for L10n!

Some KB articles refer to the Location bar as the "Awesome Bar" while others use "address bar". The name in the Firefox UI is Location Bar, as seen at the bottom of the Options window - Privacy panel, and we still use that term in KB articles.

I propose we rename this article Search your bookmarks, history and tabs with the Location Bar (aka address bar or "Awesome Bar") to avoid confusion, until a decision is made on what to call this feature in KB articles.

See the discussion here:

What about renaming this article from "Search your bookmarks, history and tabs with the Awesome Bar" to something like:

"Awesome Bar" - Find your bookmarks, history and tabs when you type in the location (address) bar

Based on the earlier discussion, "address bar" seems to be the preferred name in article titles, even though "location bar" is what's used in the UI and in article content. "Address bar" is the new name now used instead of "Location bar" in other KB article titles and summaries and "address bar" is how Wikipedia's article defines this feature, with "(location bar or URL bar)" as secondary names.

So, since the Firefox "autocomplete" feature is called the "Awesome Bar" by Mozilla on the Firefox features page, what about changing the article title to include both "Awesome Bar" and address bar?

"Awesome Bar" - Find your bookmarks, history and tabs when you type in the address bar

Article renamed Awesome Bar: Search your bookmarks, history and tabs when you type in the address bar

Article renamed Awesome Bar - Find your bookmarks, history and tabs when you type in the address bar

On second thought,

Awesome Bar - Search your bookmarks, history and tabs when you type in the address bar

.... makes more sense than "Find". Rename this article again? Or leave well enough alone?

Hochspitz

Please help! I have uninstalled and re-installed Firefox many times. Each time no address bar shows up. I cannot find a way to make it show. Makes Firefox pretty impossible to use.

squatch97402

I will be under the view menu. toolbars, navigation toolbar. If that is what you are refering to. If you don't see your menu bar use atl T

Hochspitz

squatch97402 said

I will be under the view menu. toolbars, navigation toolbar. If that is what you are refering to. If you don't see your menu bar use atl T Thx very much -:))

Joergen

Hi

I have been reviewing the Danish translation of this article and I am puzzled about the following paragraph. To turn off the "Switch to tab" option temporarily, press the ALT key while typing in your search. This will open your page in a new tab instead of switching to an existing one. Pressing the Alt key while typing, opens menus and select menu items. Example: Pressing the Alt key while typing the word Thunderbird will open the Tools menu. (En-us version of Firefox)

Jørgen Rasmussen MozillaDanmark

Hi Joergen,

You're right. The Alt key does bring up the menu bar.

I had trouble figuring out we were supposed to use the Alt key to turn off "Switch to tab" and I thought that pressing it while searching worked at the time, but I might have been mistaken.

It works when you press the Alt key while hovering over the autocomplete entries with your cursor. I'll update the article.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. Joni

The "Changing your location bar settings" section needs updating for Firefox 36. The Location Bar section of the Privacy panel now has three options, History, Bookmarks and Open tabs, which can be selected in different combinations, or you can deselect all (no more drop-down list). Windows screenshot (Firefox 36 Beta5): /en-US/gallery/image/21206

This came up in a related discussion: /en-US/kb/settings-privacy-browsing-h.../5932 [fx36] Privacy panel changed

To Joni: on your pending revision for fx36:

In the "How to use the autocomplete list" I was wondering why you added "* Pages you currently have open in another tab" and have it display only for fx36 and above. There's already a separate "Switch to tab" section that applies to current and past versions of Firefox.

I made a new revision that's pending review, to account for that plus some other edits.

I'm reviving this old thread since I think that "Firefox" should be included in the title of this article, which is currently "Awesome Bar - Find your bookmarks, history and tabs when you type in the address bar"

My suggestion: Awesome Bar - Search your Firefox bookmarks, history and tabs when you type in the address bar or Awesome Bar - Search your Firefox bookmarks, history and tabs from the address bar

This article currently appears in Google search results as:


Awesome Bar - Find your bookmarks, history and tabs when ... https://support.mozilla.org/.../awesome-bar-find-your-bookmarks... Mozilla The location bar, also called the URL bar or address bar, displays a site's web address (URL). We call it the Awesome Bar because it remembers those websites ..

Yahoo search results show it as:


Awesome Bar - Find your bookmarks, history and tabs... support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/awesome-bar-find-your... Cached Awesome Bar - Find your bookmarks, history and tabs when you type in the address bar. The location bar, also called the URL bar or address bar, displays a site's web ...

Since the search engine results are quoting the first paragaph, I also made a new revision to add "Firefox", so that it starts off as follows, :

The Firefox location bar, also called the URL bar or address bar, displays a site's web ...

Thanks for reviving this, Alice, I think changing the title is a good idea. I like your second suggestion: Awesome Bar - Search your Firefox bookmarks, history and tabs from the address bar.

If nobody has any objections, I say we can change it.

Joni said

I like your second suggestion: Awesome Bar - Search your Firefox bookmarks, history and tabs from the address bar. If nobody has any objections, I say we can change it.

I changed the article title to the above.

ffnewbie

Hi, I was reading the article about the awesome bar and believe it contains an error. In the section titled "Prevent Firefox from automatically completing URLs" it lists 3 steps beginning with: "type 'about.config' in the address bar" I won't go into a lot of detail but it appears to me that there are actually 4 steps to this procedure and step #4 is further down the page at the end of the section titled "How can I control the results the location bar shows me?" I'm no expert at these things so maybe one of you fine people could take a look at it and see if you agree with me. Thank you.

UPDATE: Upon further review I mistakenly read step #4 as: close the about.config page instead of what it really says which is: close the about.preferences page. My apologies to the authors.

ffnewbie said

Hi, I was reading the article about the awesome bar and believe it contains an error. In the section titled "Prevent Firefox from automatically completing URLs" it lists 3 steps beginning with: "type 'about.config' in the address bar" I won't go into a lot of detail but it appears to me that there are actually 4 steps to this procedure and step #4 is further down the page at the end of the section titled "How can I control the results the location bar shows me?" I'm no expert at these things so maybe one of you fine people could take a look at it and see if you agree with me. Thank you.

Thanks for posting this. I took a look and the article looks correct to me. As I read the article, the browser.urlbar.autoFill preference in the section titled "Prevent Firefox from automatically completing URLs" is for automatically filling in what you type within the address bar itself. The "How can I control the results the location bar shows me?" section further down the page is about the autocomplete drop-down list. That section title could be made clearer, I think. I'll set up a "Needs change" entry so that someone else can review this article.

ffnewbie said

UPDATE: Upon further review I mistakenly read step #4 as: close the about.config page instead of what it really says which is: close the about.preferences page. My apologies to the authors.

I just saw this after I posted my reply. I'll remove the "Needs change" entry.

ffnewbie

I may be the only person who made this mistake but others might. Perhaps the addition of a step #4; ie. 'Close the about.config' page' to the section about Preventing Firefox from completing URLs would help. I have been using the support pages a lot and find them to be informative and easily understood even by a novice like me. Keep up the good work. Thanks!

ffnewbie said

I may be the only person who made this mistake but others might. Perhaps the addition of a step #4; ie. 'Close the about.config' page' to the section about Preventing Firefox from completing URLs would help. I have been using the support pages a lot and find them to be informative and easily understood even by a novice like me. Keep up the good work. Thanks!

Thanks, again. I'll take another look.

I made some revisions to the article (my edit is pending review): https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/awesome-bar-search-firefox-bookmarks-history-tabs/revision/1060...

I made the "URL autocomplete" and "Prevent Firefox from automatically completing URLs" sections clearer and I included a note linking to the "How can I control what results the location bar shows me?"section to explain how to change the autocomplete drop-down results. (I also removed content for versions below fx29).

I self-approved my pending revision.

Hello, in 43 we have search option in Awesome/address Bar (i don't have the bug) New search option in Awesome address Bar https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/43.0/releasenotes/ 4th in the row (in the "New" area)

thanks

EDIT : I seek for it when i see Ed's reply ( https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/questions/1099629#answer-819037 ), include the solution, if someone do not want that option also.

Thanks to the-edmeister

Related bug: Bug 995091 - (UnifiedComplete) Enable Unified Autocomplete

I'll set up a Needs change entry.

I took a critical look at occurrences of “page” versus “site” in this article, simply because a recent edit once again made clear that improper (and ongoing) use of “site” may cause statements that are slightly incorrect, or at least inconsistent, both for Sumo and in products. I recall a small discussion about this on IRC, but it didn’t really result in a guideline (yet).

To quote myself from bug 1245992 (still needing follow-up currently):

  • A website is a collection of web pages.
  • A browser is used for viewing web pages.

Apart from some improper “site” instances for recent new product strings referred to in that bug, there’s a few more, and that also goes for Sumo articles. Therefore, IMO it makes no sense to write things like “the URL bar or address bar displays a site's web address”, since a site can be e.g. www.mozilla.org (i.e. one can consider “site” as the top domain), while www.mozilla.org/plugincheck is one of its pages residing on that website. SImilarly, Facebook user pages are just pages despite users sometimes calling them “my Facebook website”, which may also indicate some inawareness of the proper definition. And of course, if Firefox contains an option to “Bookmark a page”, it’s just wrong to write things like “Bookmarks: suggests sites that you've bookmarked” (same for History and open tabs) in this article.

I think we should not confuse users by mixing up pages and sites here and there, therefore be consistent. I do realize that in a few cases such as the last sentence of the search summary (“Get to sites with fewer keystrokes”), one could use “site” since the intention is to visit a (page residing on a) website, but others like the one before it are in fact wrong and should use “web pages you've visited, bookmarked or tagged, or open in a tab”.

Revision 127601 contains some site -> page changes, leaving out the one in line 46 since it refers to somedomain.org. It would be great if we (that is everyone, not just content writers) should keep this in mind, if content writers agree of course. I changed them already for my locale, so of course it can be left as is for English while other locales decide for themselves. However and based on Netscape/Mozilla history, I think anyone involved should have a clear understanding about the difference and therefore use both words properly.

Sidenote: currently there’s also a number of “webpage(s)” instances in some articles as well as article titles, even though we should use “web page(s)” IIRC (“web page” could be added to the Write articles for the Knowledge Base article.)

Tonnes said

<snip>
  • A website is a collection of web pages.
  • A browser is used for viewing web pages. \<snip>
Sidenote: currently there’s also a number of “webpage(s)” instances in some articles as well as article titles, even though we should use “web page(s)” IIRC (“web page” could be added to the Write articles for the Knowledge Base article.)

I have a revision pending here: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/write-articles-knowledge-base/revision/127627

Why does the edit say "do not approve"? What are we waiting on?

I agree in general that "website" or "site" shouldn't be used when we mean a (Web) page. I'm wondering whether we should be using "web page" or "Web page". See this discussion thread: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/write-articles-knowledge-base/discuss/6718 Style guide and copy rules: website vs web page ..or Web page ?

AliceWyman said

I agree in general that "website" or "site" shouldn't be used when we mean a (Web) page. I'm wondering whether we should be using "web page" or "Web page". See this discussion thread: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/write-articles-knowledge-base/discuss/6718 Style guide and copy rules: website vs web page ..or Web page ?

We resolved the issue and agreed on "web page" so I'll approve the revision.

The "awesome bar" results have a new design in Firefox 48. See: Bug 1181078 - Implement new awesomebar design (status-firefox48: fixed → verified) ... which links to: http://people.mozilla.org/~shorlander/mockups/AwesomeResults/AwesomeResults-02.html

Here's a screenshot showing the new design:

AwesomeBarResults-redesign

AwesomeBarResults-redesign

For comparison, here's what it looks like in Firefox 45esr (in both cases, I had visited awesomefoundation.org. so that it would appear in the URLbar autocomplete):

AwesomeBarResults-Fx45esr

AwesomeBarResults-Fx45esr

I don't know if these changes are important enough to update the article or screenshot(s) so I didn't add a "Needs change" entry.

P.S. I see that Joni already updated the article for Firefox 48 in revision 127583:

Created: Jul 8, 2016, 3:52:43 PM
Creator: jsavage
Comment: hid outdated screenshots for 48. For L10N purposes, we won't update the screenshots since it doesn't affect instructions.

Joni's edit made the video, as well as the mac, linux and win screenshots in the "How to use the autocomplete list" section, {for not fx48}.

pefimo

Dear All,

While learning (memorizing) special characters used as default values of browser.urlbar.restrict, I've come up with a few ideas on how to better memorize them. Do you agree that it's a good idea to add such mnemonics to the page "Awesome bar - Search (...)"?

Best regards, pefimo