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firefox search barI remember the very first time that I actually discovered the usefulness of Firefox’s search bar. Up until just before that point, all of my web-searching antics started with navigating to Google, by URL, and then beginning my search. Being able to cut a step out of the process really has its perks, and especially when that process is as common of one as searching the web.

You all know what search bar I’m talking about. Assuming you’re on Firefox right now, glance a little upwards and then to the right. Chances are, you’re using Google (as you should be) to search from. You can change that to any search engine you’d like. Other than that, the search bar is pretty cut-and-dry. In this post, I’d like to show you two new and interesting ways that you can ramp up its functionality.

Searchbar Autosizer

firefox search bar

Searchbar Autosizer is an add-on that works for the latest version of Firefox. But, why is it cool? Having lots of space across your bars and menus is pretty important, especially if you’re running a small resolution. Searchbar Autosizer ensures that the Firefox search bar only takes up as much space as it needs to.

firefox search bar tweaks

It doesn’t make too much sense to have a bar like the search bar remain at a static width. No matter how much or how little you type, Searchbar Autoresizer will make the input box fit your text.

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You’re able to configure it so that it sizes to your text incrementally, enlarges on the first strike, or remains the same width at all times. It’s an incredibly simple add-on but you’ll definitely notice its effectiveness if your bars are a little cluttered when using this browser. It’s very lightweight, also.

Search In a New Tab

This is one of my favorite and one of the most underrated tweaks available for Firefox. Go to your address bar, type in about:config, and hit the Enter key. If you’re presented with a warning message, feel free to proceed. You should see a little something like this:

firefox search bar tweaks

In the Search bar in that screenshot, type in the following: browser.search.openintab. It should be a boolean set as false. Let’s go ahead and toggle that.

firefox search bar

After the boolean is changed to true, you’ll need to restart your browser to feel the effects. Go ahead and type something in your search bar, hit Enter, and you’ll notice that your search results will automatically be opened in a brand new tab, rather than disturbing your already-opened tab.

Be advised that this tweak can take a little bit of getting used to. It’s been months since I’ve made the change and I am still catching myself opening a new tab and then using my search bar (which results in an extra, unused tab).

There you have it. Two simple changes that offer two noticeable and worthwhile effects. Both will be thrown onto any new Firefox installation of mine and I hope you’re able to enjoy them as much as I do!  Let us know in the comments if you have any other tweaks you want to share with us.

  1. Gerhard Tinned
    September 17, 2012 at 9:45 am

    i used Searchbar Autosizer for some time ... but i stopped using it. It was more anoing then helping to me. :-(

  2. Luke
    September 17, 2012 at 4:47 am

    Seriously - Why even have the search box? It just wastes space when you are not using it (which is 99.95% of the time).

    Just use Firefox's Keywords.

    I have one setup under the keyword "g" and with the URL "http://www.google.com.au/search?tbo=1&prmdo=1&q=%s" (being in Australia).

    So all I go is open a new tab (Ctrl+T) and then type "g whatever I am looking for" and it sends me to Google.com.au and searches for "whatever I am looking for".

    Bonus you can create similar links for all the major search engines.
    "b" = "http://www.bing.com/search?q=%s" = Bing Search, etc.

    Much faster, more functional, and better use of the available screenspace than retaining the, frankly dated, Search Box.

  3. sigits Sigit
    September 16, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    NIce info..Thx

  4. Ahmed Khalil
    September 16, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    nice add-in, thanks for the sharing, i still hope to see these tools in safari(my favourit)

  5. Faisal Ahmed
    September 16, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    need some tweaks from "about:config" rather than having add-ons...

  6. Mark
    September 16, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    pressing alt+enter will open the search in a new tab.

  7. Zenphic
    September 16, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    I wouldn't mind Firefox losing the search bar altogether and putting it inside the address bar like Chrome does.

  8. Hiren Patel
    September 16, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    Thanks for info :)

  9. Desdemona
    September 16, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    The search bar resizer add-on seems really helpful. Unfortunately, no matter how I set options or how many times I restarted - even though restarting supposedly isn't necessary - I couldn't get it to work on my Ubuntu installation. After installing it and removing it several times, restarting several times, turning options on and off, etc., I even reached the point where the search bar completely disappeared without leaving so much as a button behind.

  10. booblove
    September 16, 2012 at 10:09 am

    you forgot about drag'n'go and how you can add many searchengines from http://mycroft.mozdev.org/

  11. Faisal Ahmed
    September 16, 2012 at 7:55 am

    I reckon it is worth mentioning here the shortcut to go directly to the search box...just press "Ctrl+K".

    • Andrea
      September 16, 2012 at 10:06 am

      ...and then you can choose the search engine using Ctrl+Up/Down, so you can search for something without using the mouse at all

  12. slobodan zekic
    September 16, 2012 at 7:41 am

    Thank you for those :) :)

  13. Edmar Diego
    September 16, 2012 at 4:08 am

    i think people should just use the "fastest fox add-ons" it will give users a better researching experience.

  14. Paul Girardin
    September 16, 2012 at 4:02 am

    Thank you for those!

    My arsenal is getting big! :D

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