Whenever I type something in my address bar (other than a url), Firefox automatically uses Google search to give me results for it. Where can I change this behaviour in Firefox? I'm using Ubuntu 12.04 Gnome classic.

Edit 1: Changing the behaviour as in, making another search engine as the default one.

Edit 2: What I want is: While typing in the address bar, it should use a search engine of my choice to search. However, I want the search engine text box (the text box to the right of the address bar) to use google itself if I type something in there.

  • What behavior are you expecting? In my opinion this is the behavior you should get.
    – abhishek
    Jul 20, 2012 at 13:51
  • Updated the question. Changing the default search engine is what I had in mind. Jul 20, 2012 at 13:53
  • Click on the Google icon in your search engine text box, a drop down list should open, and the last item in that list should be Manage search engines. You can change your default engine there. More information in Firefox's documentation: support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/… Jul 20, 2012 at 13:57
  • So, You want to get the search result from another search engine instead of Google and still have the feature of searching from address bar?
    – Anwar
    Jul 20, 2012 at 14:03
  • I've edited the question. I want What you said plus, the search engine text box should be google itself. Jul 20, 2012 at 14:18

2 Answers 2


For the Address Bar

  1. Type about:config in you search bar as below

    enter image description here

  2. You'll then have a humourous notification box come up in the middle of the browser telling you the following:

    enter image description here What you'll be agreeing to is that you'll be able to modify values of certain Firefox variables which change the overall user experience (so I strongly recommend you don't modify anything you don't need/know about).

  3. Once you've clicked on "I'll be careful, I promise" the following search bar and list will come up:

    enter image description here

  4. Within the searchbar look up keyword and you should have the entries in the screenshot below

    enter image description here

  5. Lastly right click on keyword.url and click Modify and change it to whatever search engine you want, the example I've given here is DuckDuckGo (replace DuckDuckGo with any other search engine of your choice):

For those interested/wondering the ?q= at the end of the URL you post (as far as I know) is just how search engines determine the query required to be sent to the search engine.

For the search bar on the right

Just click on the triangle to the left and a drop down list will give you a choice of what search engine to use.

If your search engine isn't already there you will need to add it manually by clicking on the Manage Search Engines option at the bottom of that list of search engines and it will open up the following window:

enter image description here

Once there you simply click the Get more search engines... URL in orange and you can choose from a wide list which sites to add to your list so you can have them in your right toolbar at the ready.

Hope this answers your question.

Edit: I recommend users have a look at Dan's answer below, not exactly what was asked but still a very useful feature, well worth a read.

  • 1
    Thanks! Now address bar uses duckduckgo (the one I wanted) and the search engine text box uses google. :) Just the way I wanted it. Jul 20, 2012 at 14:27
  • You're welcome, I'm glad I was able to help ;)
    – Oyibo
    Jul 20, 2012 at 14:30
  • 2
    @harisibrahimkv also if you want to search for things within google from DuckDuckGo, all you have to do is type !google in front, !images (for google images), !scholar (for google scholar) just in case you were interested
    – Oyibo
    Jul 20, 2012 at 14:46
  • up this trick does not work at all askubuntu.com/questions/280880/… Apr 13, 2013 at 1:32

I understand this isn't what you need but this is a good underrated feature in Firefox that you can use without changing any setting in about:config, and can be done easily and safely.

In any website you want, if you right click on its search box, you will have an option called:

Add a Keyword for this Search

If you click it, a small dialog will appear for adding a "bookmark", and a place to add a keyword. If you choose a keyword for it, you can use that keyword to search the website as if you had used that search box.
This is done by typing the search criteria in the Awesome Bar, and prepending them with that same keyword.

You can create as many keywords as you like.

For example, right click on the search box here in askubuntu and choose the Add a Keyword for this Search option.

Menu dialog

Once the dialog appears, put au in the keyword box.

Bookmark Dialog

Now whenever you need to make a search in Ask Ubuntu, you just need to prepend your search criteria with au.

Search Result

  • Very helpful indeed! Thank you for posting this. :) Jul 20, 2012 at 16:34
  • This helped me. I have a strange problem, basically my address bar stopped performing searches and tried to redirect to whatever I typed in it (eg: if I typed test, it was trying to redirect to http:\\test). Your answer helped me to find a workaround, at least for as long as I don't find out the problem and therefore the "real" solution.
    – mardavi
    Feb 21, 2013 at 11:09
  • @mardavi in about:config, look for keyword.enabled and make sure it is set to true
    – Dan
    Feb 21, 2013 at 11:40

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