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How do i change the default search engine in the search bar?

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How do i change the default search engine in the search bar?

Whenever i open firefox the default search engine in the little search bar is always Yahoo, and nothing i do changes it back to google permanently. Even when i type something in the address bar it uses yahoo. Ive tried everything including going in to about:config and changing a bunch of stuff like putting in the google string but nothing works...

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Site Moderator

Re: How do i change the default search engine in the search bar?

hello jonhon8, this sounds like a problem that may be caused by adware on your pc. please go to firefox > addons > extensions & remove any suspicious entries (toolbars, things that you have not installed intentionally, etc). also go to the windows control panel / programs and remove all toolbars or potentially unwanted software from there and do a full scan of your system with the security software that you have in place and/or a different tool like the free version of malwarebytes.

Remove a toolbar that has taken over your Firefox search or home page

afterwards install the search reset addon - it will revert the most common customizations by those adware programs back to the firefox default: https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/addon/searchreset/

18 REPLIES
Site Moderator

Re: How do i change the default search engine in the search bar?

hello jonhon8, this sounds like a problem that may be caused by adware on your pc. please go to firefox > addons > extensions & remove any suspicious entries (toolbars, things that you have not installed intentionally, etc). also go to the windows control panel / programs and remove all toolbars or potentially unwanted software from there and do a full scan of your system with the security software that you have in place and/or a different tool like the free version of malwarebytes.

Remove a toolbar that has taken over your Firefox search or home page

afterwards install the search reset addon - it will revert the most common customizations by those adware programs back to the firefox default: https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/addon/searchreset/

New Contributor

Re: How do i change the default search engine in the search bar?

I tried this, but when I restarted Firefox this morning, Yahoo was still my default search engine, and all the others I'd removed were back. It's not hard to put things back the way I want them, but it's a pain to have to do it daily. I've removed the Yahoo toolbar as well as other add-ons I don't recognize, but it's not a toolbar issue, it's the search engine thing.

Site Moderator

Re: How do i change the default search engine in the search bar?

Is this about the search engine on the Navigation Toolbar or the search engine used on the about:home page?

Start Firefox in Safe Mode to check if one of the extensions (Firefox/Tools > Add-ons > Extensions) or if hardware acceleration is causing the problem (switch to the DEFAULT theme: Firefox/Tools > Add-ons > Appearance).

  • Do not click the Reset button on the Safe mode start window or otherwise make changes.

If you do not keep changes after a restart then see:

Try to delete the search.json file and a possible search.sqlite file in the Firefox Profile Folder.

You can look at this version of SearchReset (updated by me) that also resets the search engine used on the about:home page:

New Contributor

Re: How do i change the default search engine in the search bar?

It's the search engine selected in the nav bar (the one at the far right). I don't want to try what you've suggested until it's confirmed your instructions are for this question. Frankly, what you're telling me to do is totally scary. I am NOT a techno person. I also noticed that when I restarted my computer my default home page in Firefox was no longer the one I'd set it for. So, whatever the add on suggested originally was supposed to do, it didn't.

Site Moderator

Re: How do i change the default search engine in the search bar?

Do you have a user.js file in the Firefox Profile Folder?

You can use this button to go to the Firefox profile folder:

  • Help > Troubleshooting Information > Profile Directory: Show Folder

Are you able to keep the Google search engine if you run Firefox in Safe mode?

New Contributor

Re: How do i change the default search engine in the search bar?

Yes I found the user.js file, but you didn't say what to do with it.

I restarted in safe mode and Yahoo came right back as my default search engine.
Site Moderator

Re: How do i change the default search engine in the search bar?

Can you open that file in Notepad for inspection (right-click: Open with; do not double click) and post its content?

You need to delete that user.js file as it shouldn't be there and is probably added by an extension or other software.
This file is read at every start of Firefox to initialize setting stored in it.

New Contributor

Re: How do i change the default search engine in the search bar?

Thanks -- this is what the file says: user_pref("yahoo.ytff.general.dontshowhpoffer", true);

You asked me to post so I'm doing that before I delete that file.

Site Moderator

Re: How do i change the default search engine in the search bar?

That pref seems to have been added by the Yahoo toolbar.

Do you have that extension (toolbar)?

You can delete the user.js file.