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2,851 Tutorials

How to change the default search engines used by Firefox

Manage the search engines Firefox uses in Search- and Address bars

Reset Keyword.url

Here's how to change the search engine Firefox uses by default, both in your browser's search bar and the main address bar. (See also Firefox for Windows 8 review.)

Firefox is the most customisable web browser there is. But its open source nature means that this customisation can lead to bloat. It can mean that you end up with multiple search engines cluttering up the search bar in the top righthand corner of your browser window, for instance. Or mean that searching via the main address bar leads you into a set of results not provided by Google or Bing but by a more specialist search engine - an unwanted gift from a dodgy toolbar or software download you installed.

Here we show you how to change the default search engine on Firefox both in the search bar and via the address bar. You'll still be able to manually select other search engines, and browse to those search engines on the web. (If you are a Google Chrome user, by the way, check our feature 'How to change default search engine on Chrome'.)

Change default search engine on Firefox Search Bar

1. The search bar is the smaller input field to the right of the main address bar at the top righthand corner of your browser window. Look at the icon in the left corner of the search bar - if it is the search engine you wish to use, you need to do nothing. However, if it is not the search engine you want, click the little arrow next to the symbol and a drop down will appear with all the installed search engines. Choose one of these and you can use it for your next search via the search bar. It doesn't change the default, however.

Select new search engine in search bar

2. To change the default search engine in Firefox's Search Bar, click the little down arrow, and scroll down to the bottom. Click 'Manage Search Engines'.

Manage Search Engines

3. The search engine at the top of the list is the current default. Highlight any of the search engines and use the 'Move up' and 'Move down' buttons to rearrange the order.

Move up search engine

4. To remove a search engine altogether, highlight it in the list and click 'Remove'.

Remove Search Engine

5. To add new search engines not already in the list, click 'Get more search engines'. You'll be taken to a page of Google add-ones, from which you can select new search tools. Click the 'Add to Firefox' button next to each entry to add a new search engine to the list in your Search bar.

Add new search engine

Change default search engine on Firefox Address Bar

This is a little more complicated, but stick with us and you can change the search engine used when you type a search term in the main address bar of your Firefox browser.

1. Type about:config in the address bar and press enter. If you've never done this before you'll see a warning about the dangers of messing with advanced settings in Firefox. Click 'I'll be careful, I promise' and you'll be taken to a page that contains a long list of entries.

about:config.com

2. To reset the default search engine of Google, search for 'Keyword', find the entry 'Keyword.url', right-click it and select 'Reset'. Your default address bar search engine will once again be Google.

Reset Keyword.url

3. Alternatively, if you want to set another search engine as the default in Firefox's address bar: search for 'Keyword', find the entry 'Keyword.url' and double click it. You'll be presented with a dialog that asks you to 'Enter String Value'.

Keyword.url

4. Replacing the string with one of the following URLs makes the relevant search engine the default:

Yahoo: http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=

Ask: http://www.ask.com/web?q=

Bing: http://www.bing.com/search?ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=navclient&gfns=1&q=

Google: http://www.google.com/search?&q=

And that's it!

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Visit Windows 7 Advisor and Windows 8 Advisor for more Windows advice. Or email our Helproom Editor for bespoke advice.

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