I've seen several threads that describe the same issue - the cursor appears in the address bar by default on a new tab. I have not seen a single solution. Mozilla needs to sort this out because it's very annoying.
This started happening only after I updated to FF 17. Until that point the cursor was in the google search box. It was just a FF update, no new extensions or add-ons. The only workaround I have is the Custom New Tab extension.
I just don't want to have to install new extensions to add functionality every time they update to a new version that creates new issues. FF already lacks some basic tab management functionality which forces me to use extensions s.a Tab Utilities. It's been 17 versions already and FF still doesn't let me set up new tabs from Bookmarks, Address bar, etc, or multi-row tabs / bookmarks, new tab position / focus, right-click menu options, etc etc etc. Just don't make it worse guys.
If you set the new tab page to the build-in about:home page then it should work and the search should get focus.
It doesn't work with web pages and in such a case the only solution is the Custom New Tab extension that you mentioned.
Changing the home page to anything other than google.com obviously does not address the stated issue. An equivalent suggestion would be "use a different browser." Mozilla should fix the cursor focus.
The default new tab page (about:newtab) is designed to behave that way.
You can change that default new tab page, but that doesn't change that behavior of setting focus to the location bar.
You can middle click a bookmark on the Bookmarks Toolbar to open that bookmark in a new tab.
Why is the default behavior designed to behave that way? That is very annoying and many people have complained about this. For years the cursor in a new window or new tab would go to the first text menu like for me in the Google search box. This was always the way in Firefox till I started using 17.0.1 in Windows 7. It seems like this could be addressed and I doubt this was suppose to be the default behavior.
It is actually one of the most annoying things about Firefox now, as this was something I use to do alot was start a new tab and start typing my search right away or just hit ctrl-v to paste something I'd just copied. Now that goes in the address bar and makes me spend more time fixing the bad address and stupid search results from that. Please someone give us a solution.
It's fine if Mozilla adds more features and functionality, but NOT at the expense of basic user-friendly usability, which users are accustomed to. For years now I've been opening a new google tab and typing away with no concern about the cursor location. WTF at least give us the option to change it!
DON'T BE LIKE MICROSOFT!
I have had the same problem and as I read this I realized I have the NewTabURL Add-on installed.
I fixed it this way -
Open the Add Ons manager and select Options for this addon. Near the bottom is the option to select location bar after opening a new tab.
I don't know why this would be the default, but it is. Anyway, un-check that and it works fine for the most part.
Well I was using a different new tab homepage addon - and that was the problem and I disabled it (had no options) and installed New Tab Homepage View 1.1 by ClearZ and that one works fine and puts the cursor in the Google search and not the address bar. I think the problem is with New tab with homepage 0.1 by Aurélien MANCA which if you do a search for new tab homepage both of these addons show up but it appears that Aurelien's has a more recent update so I think alot of people are downloading it. But Clear Z's is up to date and works like it is suppose to.
I also have this problem, FF 19.0.2. I have no New Tab add-on. I have new tab URL set as Google.com. The cursor defaults to address bar. Clicking on a Google bookmark on Bookmark Toolbar with my scroll (middle) button does in fact open new tab with cursor in the Google page's search bar, news to me, and that it opens page at all. Left button clicking opens it in same tab but also with cursor in the right place. But why can't the new tab + square do the same thing? If I want the new tab to be Google, it's not too much of a stretch to figure out that I don't want to use the address bar for why I want to use Google as the new tab page. In fact, is there any new tab, other than about blank, for which it makes sense to default to the address bar? Is the only way to fix it an add-on, specifically this add-on: "New Tab Homepage View 1.1 by ClearZ"? Is there nothing in about:config to change this?
By the way, on this and the previous this reply, I clicked the Reply link under your answer about clicking the middle button on a Bookmarks Toolbar button for Google. But It puts the reply at the bottom of the list in my view. Perhaps you can tell it is in reply to that specific post by you.