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Make Firefox Show Google Results for Default Address Bar Searches

Have you ever typed something incorrectly into the Firefox address bar, and then had it take you to a page you weren’t expecting? The reason is because Firefox uses Google’s “I’m Feeling Lucky” search, but you can change it.

Scratching your head? Let’s take a quick run through what we’re talking about…

Normally, if you typed in something like just “howtogeek” in the address bar, and then hit enter… you’ll be taken directly to the How-To Geek site.

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But how? Very simple! It’s the same place you would have been taken to if you typed “howtogeek” into Google, and then clicked the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button, which takes you to the first result. This is what Firefox does behind the scenes when you put something into the address bar that isn’t a URL.

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But what if you’d rather head to the search results page instead? Luckily, all you have to do is tweak an about:config parameter in Firefox. Just head into about:config in the address bar, and then filter for keyword.url like so:

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Double-click on the entry in the list, and then delete the &gfns=1 from the value. That’s the part of the URL that triggers Google to redirect to the first result.

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And now, the next time you type something into the address bar, either on purpose or because you typo’d it, you’ll be taken to the results page instead:

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About:Config tweaking is lots of fun.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 04/22/10

Comments (14)

  1. Benoit

    There is only one problem: if I enter “howtogeek” in the location bar, I get a domain name registration page, not the HowToGeek site. In Firefox’s about:config, there is the expected URL in keyword.URL and “true” in keyword.enabled…

  2. Ironmonkey

    After doing this, can I then access the ‘about:config’ again, or will it treat this input as a google search !!

  3. Caleb Bohon

    I have Ubuntu 9.04 and instead of searching google like I want it to it returns whatever my ISP tells it. How do I fix that? Thanks.

  4. RobotMacaroni

    @ironmonkey, I’m sure you can still do about:config while working offline to access the config.

  5. Hmmm...

    This probably will fail with your computer at work.

    More than likely your DNS suffixes settings (found in advanced TCP/IP settings) are set to your company domain. Instead of displaying Google’s search result page, Firefox will display the error message “The requested URL could not be retrieved” because your computer is trying to query the domain specified in the DNS configuration (howtogeek.company.com).

    Do you guys ever thoroughly test these “tweaks”?

  6. Anon

    This does not work.

  7. Lou Skunt

    AVG set mine to use a yahoo search. can someone post the string plz?

  8. Kam
  9. mayank

    yes it works

  10. mayank

    plz tell me how to install xammp in ubuntu

  11. Aoife

    Thanks a million guys you have saved me!!

  12. Nemu

    not exactly what i wanted, but it did help me find another config option that does do what i’m looking for. ie actually change the default engine back to google after having it hijacked by some other thing.
    browser.search.defaultenginename
    just reset-ed the value =D
    usually when i try to go a results page rather than a page itself, i type gg after the search keyword. it worked for your given keyword too =D
    thanks you reading and sorry to bother you.

  13. Clare Hooper

    Great post, thanks :)

  14. Thomas J

    ask.com hijacked my address box search.

    I applied this fix, and now I can see PROPER search results from my chosen and preferred search engine company…( Google Search )

    Even thou I am not a 100% address bar searcher ….Previously/Mainly I open www Google Search in a new tab, ask.com hadn’t hijacked that or my home page,…..I still want MY CHOICE.

    Even when I uninstalled the suspected and dubious toolbar linked with ask.com,
    ask.com still held on to the address bar aspect.

    Now thanks to How-To Geek, ALL aspects of ask.com have gone .GOODBYE ask.com and good riddance….. lol.

    (P.S How-To Geek in the small print you have put the date when the article was originally written, IMO it would of been nice to see the actual authors name as well…….Anyway big thanks )

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