Location Bar search

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This article was written for Firefox but most of it applies also to recent versions of SeaMonkey.

There are two types of searching that can be done from the Location Bar.

Location Bar search (internal - Auto Complete)

When you type into the Location Bar before or without hitting "Enter", Firefox does text string searching within your history and bookmarks. The Location Bar Auto Complete drop-down list results (AwesomeBar list) shows you the page’s favicon, the full title, the URL, and whether you have bookmarked or tagged the page in a richly formatted two-line display.

"moz-action:switchtab", may appear as a prefix in single line AwesomeBar results ("oldbar" extension), or instead as switch to tab switch to tab symbol on the second line of the AwesomeBar results to indicate that it is an already open tab other than the active tab. 
If the url is bookmarked, either the bookmark Star bookmark star or the bookmark tag //(luggage tag) symbol will also appear in the AwesomeBar results.
You can suppress "Switch to tab" and see the URL by holding down the Alt key or the Shift key if an entry in the location bar drop down list is highlighted.
Use "Shift+Enter" to open the highlighted "Switch to tab" entry in the current tab or "Alt+Enter" to open the highlighted entry in a new tab.
Use the Cursor Right key to copy the highlighted entry to the location bar if you want to edit that entry.

You can restrict what kind of results are shown in the drop down list by using customizable characters.
Include the character anywhere in the address bar separated by spaces to have it restrict what results are displayed.
The characters are as follows:

Preference names in about:config default key action
browser.urlbar.match.title # Returns results that match the text in the title.
browser.urlbar.match.url @ Returns results that match the text in the URL.
browser.urlbar.restrict.bookmark * Returns only results that are from the bookmarks.
browser.urlbar.restrict.history ^ Returns only results that are from the browser’s history.
browser.urlbar.restrict.tag + Returns only results that have been tagged.
browser.urlbar.restrict.typed ~ Returns only results that have been typed.
browser.urlbar.restrict.openpage % Returns only open tabs (visible tabs, not active tab), available in Firefox 4 (SeaMonkey 2.1) and later

Also see browser.urlbar.default.behavior to customize your normal Auto Complete (AwesomeBar) search behavior at the Location Bar. Normal is to search on text strings, but can be changed to require word boundaries.

Location Bar search (external - search engine)

If you do not select a result from the drop-down list but just press enter, Firefox takes you to the top Google result for that search by default.

However, by modifying the preference called keyword.URL, you can change this behavior. Here are a few example values:


Google's "I'm Feeling Lucky" (default pre-Firefox 2.0)


Google "Browse by Name" (Automatically takes you to sites with a clear match, else performs a Google search) (default in Firefox 2)


Google Search (Google search results page)

If the keyword.URL search is disabled, Firefox may still attempt a simpler lookup, by concatenating a prefix and suffix on the supplied domain name. This action may be enabled or disabled using the browser.fixup.alternate.enabled setting in about:config. The prefix and suffix used can be set using browser.fixup.alternate.prefix and ...suffix.

(In recent versions of SeaMonkey, the Google search or the search of your choice appears in a distinctive color at the bottom of the drop-down list, and the "simple lookup" described above will happen if you hit Enter without selecting anything.)

For more advanced search capabilities, you may want to look into using keyword searches and the Search Bar.

Additional tips

If an unwanted web page keeps coming up as suggestion for auto-complete, you can use "Del" key (possibly "Shift+Del" on a Mac) just like removing suggestions in other drop-downs such as in requests for user id and password that you might already be familiar with.

A tip to elevate the ranking of a wanted webpage, if there is not much previous history, would be to Copy ("Ctrl+C") the url name from the location bar, and to Paste ("Ctrl+V") it back to the location bar and hit Enter, do this three times and it should turn up more often the next few times and normal usage will maintain higher visited usage statistics.

You can also perform history only searches in the History Sidebar ("Ctrl+H" {"Ctrl+Shift+H" on Mac}), or Bookmark only searches in the Bookmarks sidebar ("Ctrl+B") using the search boxes. One can also use the Library List ("Ctrl+Shift+H", and "Ctrl+Shift+B") with greater flexibility and more columns.

Related bugs

See also

External links