Jun 12, 2009
My Digital Life Editorial Team

Hack to Modify Firefox 3 Address Bar to Return Search Results When Query or Invalid URL Is Entered

Most modern web browser such as Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari and Internet Explorer (IE) is able to handle invalid URL or link location that user to type into address bar or location bar. The most typical option is automatically treat input as a query string or term, and search for it using default search engine.

Firefox takes “auto-correction” feature in address location bar a step further by automatically redirect user to a web page that it assumes user is looking for, much like Google’s “I am feeling lucky” feature. In fact, Firefox is using Google search engine to find possibly related or matching website and then direct Firefox to open the lucky first link returned by the Google.

For user who prefer to see a list of matching websites or search results instead of auto redirect to a web page when entering keywords in the Firefox’s link location bar, it’s possible to change the Firefox behavior by modifying its configuration using steps below.

  1. Run Firefox.
  2. Enter about:config into the address bar.
  3. Locate keyword.url or type keyword.url into “Filter” text box to search for it.
  4. Double click on the line of “keyword.url”.
  5. By default, the string value for “keyword.url” is “about:neterror?e=query&u=”. To display search results instead, replace the string with one of the following search statements, depending on the search engine you prefer:

    Google: http://www.google.com/search?q=
    Google Search (I’m Feeling Lucky which Automatically Goes To First Result): http://www.google.com/search?btnI=I%27m+Feeling+Lucky&q=
    Yahoo!: http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=
    Windows Live Search: http://search.live.com/results.aspx?q=
    Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Search?fulltext=Search&search=
    Wikipedia (GO option Similar to Google I’m Feeling Lucky): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Search?go=Go&search=
    Technorati: http://www.technorati.com/search/

    Change Firefox Add Bar Search URL

  6. Click OK when done.

To revert to existing behavior where best matching site will be shown immediately on any typo error or keywords and terms been entered, just set the “keyword.url” value back to “about:neterror?e=query&u=” (without quotes).

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  • Tobias

    Thanks its wonderful i have tried to get babylon to remove in a year now i then i find this page is fantastic thanks so very much from sweden

  • Miranda

    Thank you, it worked perfectly! 🙂 That feature really annoyed me — it's ridiculous to assume the browser is magically going to choose the correct page out of all the millions of possible search results…

  • Lala

    Thank you! Why anyone would want a commercial search engine to decide which page to load, instead of giving is a choice is beyond me, but thanks to your post, I've turned OFF Firefox's whorey Lucky Search.

  • I love this!

    I changed mine to feeling lucky because I SOMETIMES forgot to put .COM on things.

    Now it saves time!

    *types 'mydigitallife' into address bar*

    WORKS!

    – Connor

  • Walter

    I have firefox 3.0, dual boot Xubuntu/Ubuntu 8.04LTS-AMD64, Dual Core AMD processor, 2 gigs of ddr2, 2X 1GB nVidia (SLi), and Antec 850 power supply.

    Screwed up my browser trying to fix a Mediacom Searchassist issue. (note: Problem solved by going to bottom of searchassist mediacom page and clicking opt out. Duh.)

    However, prior to finding that link I searched http://www.scroogle.org/cgi-bin/scraper.htm for a hack to get me going and found your page and later another. You were correct about all of your data with respect to my cooler, except one. As a fellow techy, I felt it only fair to inform you of the issue so you could possible update your fix to include this info. It very well may be that my solution is distro dependent, but somehow I doubt it.

    You instructed thus:

    "By default, the string value for “keyword.url” is “about:neterror?e=query&u=”. To display search results instead, replace the string with one of the following search statements, depending on the search engine you prefer"

    I attempted to make my browser go back to the "I'm feeling lucky" solution from google that I was used to. However, I never read the original string. I attempted to put in the string from your post, that was as you claimed, the default and I got nothing. However this string:
    http://www.google.co.in/search?btnI=I%27m+Feeling

    which put me back to normal.

    Sorry for the long post. I like to be detailed and specific.

    Thanx for your help

  • Thank you! Ever since I switched to Firefox 3.5 I've been having all sorts of problems with Firefox — including the "Awesome Bar" Location Bar no longer working as a Google-search field… Following your directions on replacing about:neterror?e=query&u= with http://www.google.com/search?q= did the trick . . . Now the Location Bar still has all of it's Awesome functionality, plus I can use it run Google searches like I was used to. Perfect! Now if only Firefox 3.5 stopped intermittently slowing down and freezing I might finally start to like it even more than the far more stable Firefox 3.1 😉

  • Mateus

    O meu ja troquei isso tudo , mas ele continua pesquisando pelo Browser pelo Yahoo , sabe o que pode ser ?

    Abraços Obrigado

  • vinpao

    Changing the keyword.URL field in Firefox might not work.

    Firefox 3.5 was still defaulting to Yahoo as the search engine for the address bar.

    I run REGEDIT and searched for "yahoo": I found 4 entries like WS_FF_AB and WS_IE_AB all set to some yahoo pages.

    I deleted them and now the default search depends on the keyword.URL field in about:config

    also, check out
    http://kb.mozillazine.org/Location_Bar_search
    for different settings of the keyword.URL value.

  • Maggy

    Thanks, OpenDNS changed this option without asking me and I couldn't find a way back to default behavior.