Address bar autocomplete in Firefox - Search your bookmarks, history and tabs

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The Firefox address bar displays a page's web address (URL). It includes a feature that remembers the pages you’ve visited and also allows you to search and navigate the web. This article covers the details of how the address bar autocomplete feature works.

The address bar can also be used for other types of searches. For more information, you can see:

History, bookmarks, open tabs and sync'ed tabs

Just start typing in the address 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.

Firefox will also suggest popular search suggestions from the default search engine. See Search suggestions in Firefox for more information.

The part of the entry that matches what you've typed will show in bold. The address 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)
  • Pages that are sync'ed with other devices.

The address 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 address bar. For example, if you type "aw", Firefox may fill in "" to complete the address "" if you've visited that site before. Pressing EnterReturn in this case would take you directly to that address.

url autocomplete 57

Switch to tab

The address 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 57
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

Beyond searching your history, bookmarks or tags, you can also search the web right from the address bar.

  • When you type in the Firefox address bar, you will see search suggestions coming from your default search engine to help you find the right keywords for your intended search. A magnifying glass icon appears next to search suggestions.
  • To search the web using the exact terms you entered in the address bar, just press EnterReturn. The terms you’ve entered will become a search to your default search engine.

Change search settings

To change the way web search works in the address bar, go to the search section of your user preferences.

  1. Click the menu button New Fx Menu Fx57Menu and select Options.Preferences.
  2. Click Search in the panel on the left.

In the search settings, you can:

For more information, see Change your default search settings in Firefox.

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 address bar will match on the name you give the bookmark and also tags associated with the bookmark. See the Bookmarks in Firefox 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 address bar shows me?

Changing your address bar settings

You can turn off the address bar autocomplete feature or restrict the results to exclude your open tabs, bookmarks or browsing history:

  1. Click the menu button New Fx Menu Fx57Menu and select Options.Preferences.
  2. Select the Privacy & Security panel.
  3. Below Address Bar, select any of the following:
    address bar settings 57
    • Browsing 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 address bar, add or remove a check mark next to Show search suggestions in address 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 address bar, use the up and down arrow keys on your keyboard to highlight the entry.
  2. Press DeleteShift+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 address 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 address 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 page titles.
  • Add $ to search for matches in web addresses (URLs).
  • Add ? to search for matches in suggestions.
  • 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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