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Since I spend most of my working day in Firefox writing articles, the appearance of Firefox means a great deal to me. After all, since I am going to be looking at the browser all day long, it has to look and act the right way otherwise I would rapidly get annoyed with it.

dictccsearch.png One of the things that recently irritated me was the naming of some of the search plug-ins. For no explicable reason, Wikipedia would be named by the plug-in developer as “English Wikipedia” and my favourite English /German dictionary would be called “ En<>De”. These are the names that appear in the search box when you’re not using it (see screenshot). To me, these names looked messy and to an orderly mind like mine, it ticked me off no end.

So one day I decided to finally change the names and this is how you do it.

First you have to locate your Firefox profile in Windows Explorer. Mine is located under “Documents and Settings” then the Windows username then “Mozilla” then “Firefox” then “profiles”. But for some other people, the profile is located elsewhere. One person I know has his profile under the “Program Files” folder for example. You need to go hunting around for it.

searchpluginsfolder.png Once you have located the Firefox profile, you then need to find your “searchplugins” folder. Inside that folder are your search plugins in the form of XML files. An XML file is basically a plain text file so the first thing to do is to click on the plug-in you want to change and change the file format from XML to “txt”. Once you have done that, double-click and open the plain text file.

The text inside the file will probably be gibberish but not to worry. Just use the text file’s search function (under the “edit” drop down menu) and type in the name of the search plug-in that irritates you. So in my case, “English Wikipedia”. The search function will then take you directly to the section of the file that holds that name.


Next, delete the offending name and rename it with whatever you want. Save the text file and close it. Then re-name the file format back to XML (this part is VERY important otherwise the plug-in won’t work anymore).

Last of all, close and re-start Firefox. When it re-opens, check the search plug-in. It should now have the name you gave it.

  1. MM
    April 29, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    Thank you so much! This had been bugging me, and it's great to have the search engines named the way I want.

  2. Suke
    June 25, 2008 at 1:30 am

    Finally, a genius with an orderly mind that understand my feelings :)
    Thank you very much!

  3. Da Gopha
    December 13, 2007 at 12:29 pm

    Thanks very much Neil - quite reassuring - especially since Firefox will have checked for updates to your search engines (I assume, if the box is ticked in the Update Options).

    When I've got a mo I'll have to give it all a whirl. Surely someone at Mozilla will have realised that the next iteration of Firefox must have a "Rename" facility for the search engines in their Search Engine Manager. After all, you can move 'em up and down and delete them at the click of a button - so why not rename...?!

    (Seems that IE7's search engines are a lot tidier than Firefox's)...

    Thanks again for the very useful tip!

  4. Mark O'Neill
    December 13, 2007 at 8:14 am

    Good question to which I don't know the answer. But I will say this - I have had my search plug-ins renamed for a long time - and the names haven't reverted back at any time. During this time, I have gone through three versions of Firefox and nothing in the search box has changed.

    • Da Gopha
      May 22, 2008 at 7:47 am

      Hi there,

      Back with a quick comment - I finally got round to tidying up and renaming those Search plugins. All sorted out neat and tidy.

      ... and then a few days later, they'd changed back to their previous names!

      I reckon that it's got something to do with Firefox auto-updating searchplugins (Tools, Options, Advanced - Update).

      I've switched off the searchplugins auto-update - it appears that this causes a fresh version of the searchplugin to be downloaded, and then the name gets changed back to what it was before!


  5. Da Gopha
    December 13, 2007 at 5:28 am

    Excellent tip - have been looking for this for ages.

    Do you know if this affects the way search plugins update? Search plugins sometimes update themselves according to the "UpdateCheckDays" string. For example - would the search engine name revert if the plugin detects its changed?

  6. John
    November 21, 2007 at 3:38 am

    Why not use something like:

    Organize Search Engines

  7. Aibek
    November 20, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    Agree ... some of the search plugin names are really terrible. “ En<>De” WTF? :-)

  8. iHate PCs
    November 20, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    Thanks for this great tutorial. I've been trying to figure out how to do this forever!

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