The wrong way to search Google in Firefox

by James Somers, August 23, 2009

The default Firefox toolbar looks like this:

default-wrong

Notice how the “quick search” box on the right uses Google. This seems convenient, because it’s giving you easy access (⌘+K) to the world’s most powerful search engine, until you realize that the address bar already does this. If you type words in there instead of a URL, it’ll automatically direct your query to Google.

But Firefox obfuscates that fact by putting the Google engine in the quick search box, with two pernicious effects:

  1. Users assume they have to use that for their googling, and so may never learn about all the cool things the address bar can do.
  2. Users lose the option of having another more targeted search engine—I use Wikipedia—because they think it’ll be at the expense of Google. But of course you can use both: Google in the address bar (⌘+L) and Wikipedia as the quick search (⌘+K).

This wouldn’t irritate me so much if it weren’t for the fact that every time someone else uses my computer, they remove my Wikipedia engine and re-select Google.