New search UI coming in Firefox 34

Update: it looks like this change will only be visible to a fraction of users initially, so please plan any changes to be backward-compatible.

The search UI was retooled and it will launch with Firefox 34 (at least in the US region). This landed late in the Firefox 34 beta cycle since it is related to our switch of default search provider in certain regions, which was announced very recently.

Unfortunately, this is bound to break some add-ons and themes. If your add-on overlays any content in the search UI or modifies its behavior, we strongly recommend that you test it on the latest beta (only the US English version seems to have this change for now). If you have any compatibility updates related to this issue in the review queues, please let us know on our IRC channel (#amo-editors) or the amo-editors mailing list.

Let us know in the comments if any of your add-ons break because of this.

132 comments on “New search UI coming in Firefox 34”

  1. FFXUSER wrote on

    I too reverted back to version 33.x (just wasted half hour in the process), because this change is less efficient than the old setup, and TOO DISRUPTIVE to the way I use the search facility.

    I’d like to make the following suggestions for the development team:

    1. Please make Search Provider ICON visible in the the search field.
    2. make it possible to TOGGLE on to other search engine directly by clicking that icon as used to be the case, instead of having to go through “Change Search Engine Setting” dialog (an unnecessary inefficiency).


    1. v1adimir wrote on

      It is FACT, that the old search interface was *better* and that it didn’t get in the way.. Besides the right-click menu overlapping, there’s also functionality lost – as compared to the old search UI; need it back, plain and simple – hopefully there’s a about:config solution to this.. Searching the web for the answer, atm. =)

      1. David wrote on

        I agree, and hope they revert it back to the way iit was.

        Search was one area where firefox was far superior to other browsers until this update destroyed that superiority.

        Dozems of times throughout the day I would highlight text on webpages, right click and be able to search using the search engine last used.

        E.g. read a story on a movie or tv show. already have imdb selected temporarily as the active search engine highlight text about it and right click to choose “search with imdb”.

        Looks like firefox’s UI designers dont actually use search the way power users would, if they did they would have realised they were crippling firefox, not making it better.

        1. Curt wrote on

          I agree with all, especially David. I LOVED being able to quickly change the search provider in the search bar, so that I could select content, right click it, and have it search that selected provider. Now it ALWAYS searches the default provider. I often did that with iMDB when researching shows, or with Amazon when searching for particular items, etc. THIS IS A STEP BACKWARDS. I really hope that it gets changed back, or at least we get a setting somewhere so we can choose the new way or the better way…

  2. Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells wrote on

    As has been said, the new search box is a UX disaster. Specifcally for me, if I right-click the search box to open a menu so I can “paste and search”, the new search menu appears above the context menu. Did no-one test this new feature?

    1. v1adimir wrote on

      It would appear so (that nobody has tested it), lol! xD

  3. Adam wrote on

    New searchbar SUCKS, nobody likes it, change it back.

  4. Hotdog wrote on

    So now we have to rely on icons to find the search engines that we’d like to use.
    I have registered several different Google search engine variants (language, time) and they all have the same icon. So this UI change is a major regression for me.

  5. rangerb wrote on

    i do not understand how ‘features’ like this can be implemented.. It’s like somebody is having too much time available, and start thinking of different ways to screw over the application.
    The new search functionality is wrong in any way possible, is contra intuitive, I cannot even use the search hints anymore because if I click one it will always go on Google. I cannot select both the hints and the search engine. Please remove this!

  6. Sam wrote on

    Change the search bar back!!! I’ve been using firfwox for years and this is the first time iv’e considered changing it, i will revert back for now but please absolutely get rid of this abomination!!!

  7. Bob wrote on

    The new search is another typical Firefox disaster.

  8. rusl wrote on

    This update broke my search:
    -There was just an empty space instead of a search bar.
    -The menu after the update asked if I wanted to try the new Yahoo search in a broken window (the borders were missing, it was located upper left of screen, the buttons were cutoff) I said No at first but the change had happened and there was no searchbar. Then I went to the preferences dialogue and was able to toggle yahoo default but there was nothing still in the search feild.

    Go to about:config and then change to be false. Then restart and my search bar is back.

    The worst part of this bug is that I couldn’t quickly google to find a solution as I was pushed to yahoo which had few useful results!

    1. rusl wrote on

      ps should have said It’s FF 34.0.5 on Linux Mint Debian latest.

      1. David wrote on

        Thanks for posting, I now have the old search functionality that was missing back

  9. Fleming wrote on

    about:config -> -> double click to set to false -> restart browser

    If Mozilla is going to continue to change aspects of the user interface that are clearly in contrast of what Firefox’s target user base typically has and SHOULD be, power users, two things should ALWAYS be adhered to:

    1. Ensure a relatively easy way of reverting the changes to how things were prior to the “improvement” without requiring something as drastic as an extension being programmed just to get back lost functionality. Seriously, MOST changes should be able to be reverted with the standard options dialog or about:config. Open source software is about freedom of choice not the shill bullshit Mozilla has been pulling as of lately.

    2. Explicitly disclose the setting(s)/method(s) for reverting ALL changes so that people can have it their way without having to jump through hoops on Google and reading through endless posts. Even though power users should be the focus, we (open source community) don’t want to discourage less technically inclined users into switching to a browser with a Fisher-Price interface and customization options like Chrome.

    1. v1adimir wrote on

      Yess!.. TYVM!! 😀

    2. Stacy wrote on

      Bless you!!!! Oh gosh I hate this new search bar. I was so annoyed and huffing about the time a downgrade would take. You are a good good person. Thank you.

    3. Curt wrote on

      Well said, Fleming!

      1. Curt wrote on

        And it works!!! Thank you!!!

  10. Jarell D wrote on

    The new search bar is very inconvenient and doesn’t work for me either. (Let’s take something that was already somewhat inconvenient and make it almost unusable!) However, I gave up on using it before the change was made and just set up my own “keyword searches” for the searches I use the most.

    So, for example, if I wanted to search for “mistake” on wikipedia, instead of using the search bar, I just press ctrl+L to go to the address bar, type w mistake, and press enter. If you get used to doing it that way, unless they remove the keyword search feature, you won’t have to worry about your workflow getting screwed up by silly UI changes like this.

  11. Phil wrote on

    search toolbar does not work with australian location seach even installed british ver to fix no longer
    will it search our region.

  12. Santiago wrote on

    Well, after two days of these new changes… Firefox is dead to me. I’ve finally been pushed to Chrome, completely, and don’t plan on ever coming back.

    The new search UI (or should I say broken feature) no longer shows search hints as you type. It also keeps putting up the frigging search provider list every damn time until you manually turn it off.

    I hope Mozilla is happy with their short term cash windfall because I think Firefox’s days are numbered. It’s become a sad version of what it once was.

    1. v1adimir wrote on

      Nah, that’s (un)fortunate thing.. Firefox remains, basically, the ONLY browser that works the way I need a web browser to function – not to mention how Chrome (and others) are integrated into the system & the way they utilize the Windows Registry (it’s silly, to say the least; taking cues from the Internet Exploder, for example).

      So, Mozilla Firefox is a necessity – but, they (have been) try(ing) HARD to make it unusable w/all different interface (and other!) changes.. Only thing is to fight it & hopefully there’s enough RAM on your system – in order to load all of the extensions, that can fix the developers’ blunders. (lolz, ffs)

      ^^ For example, removing ESSENTIAL JavaScript functions from the UI (which can be, thankfully, also set from about:config):

  13. Ash wrote on

    +1 For the search bar changes being absolutely terrible.

  14. fort bronco wrote on

    how to disable it??? IT STINKS!

    1. v1adimir wrote on


  15. Dirk wrote on

    Bad UI change!!!! First, it seems to be broken in Linux version for me as I cannot select a different search engine unless I change my default (bug in Linux). None of my other search engines appear in the drop-down. Second, on my Mac, Firefox requires that I search my currently selected search engine before I can change to another search engine. A benefit to the default search engine?

    Maybe Firefox needs to be forked to an organization that only charges me, for making the changes that I want or don’t want, instead of getting money from other sources that might not have my best interests in mind!

  16. Daniel wrote on

    As many others have said the new search bar is a horrible disaster and needs to be reverted. How it ever got through UAT Is beyond belif frankly. “All” i want is the way it was i.e clean and simple. I do not want other search providers popping up below. If i want to search with someone else I can just change it simply as it was before. The UI Is also too big and clunkly and on linux mint at any rate if I right click over the bar to paste & search the menu option for “change search setting” is activated and also gets clicked.

    Horrendous change, please put it back to the way it was. This is yet another example of FIrefox going to tat and to be perfectly honest this search debacle could move more to chrome permenantly if it doesnt get put put.

  17. Michael wrote on

    Would like to voice my frustration as well over the new search bar. Unfortunately, the search bar was written from a programmers “this is going to be awesome” perspective and not the actual users perspective. I consider this to be similar to the Windows 8 Metro fiasco.

  18. Gonzo.pete wrote on

    What an awful update to the search box, everything about it has made it more difficult to use. It was probably as efficient and intuitive as it was ever going to be in the first place – if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
    As it turns out you’ve F’ed it.

  19. Anton wrote on

    I utterly hate the new search bar. A bunch of inscrutable icons? This is my only clue what search engines are listed? Why the hell can’t I have the NAME OF THE SEARCH ENGINE or SITE listed also? I have no desire to memorize the tiny crappy favicons (which CHANGE anyway).

    There’s also no way to organize the search engines. What a load of crap.

  20. mra wrote on

    You managed to really screw up the search UI. Please stop making changes that only cause frustration and do not improve on what already worked well!

  21. Guy C wrote on

    Agreed, this was a horrible unannounced change.

    Dear Mozilla,

    OPTIONS. OPTIONS. OPTIONS! Give users the options to enable or disable any major UI changes you make EASILY. It’s not difficult to redirect Firefox to a flash screen when a new version is installed detailing EVERY change made and adding in buttons to enable or disable the new features.

    I began using Firefox very near he beginning because the browser provided me with a customizable interface that didn’t force ridiculous functionality on me. The past couple of years that’s changed, and I am getting tired of having to use add-ons or modify my config file just to keep my browser working for me. I understand you wanting to make changes to keep your product fresh, but stop already.

  22. Jerry wrote on

    Please, for the love of God, don’t force me to take my hands off the keyboard and put them on the mouse EVER.

    Please, for the love of God, don’t replace text or icon-with-text with icon-only EVER.

    Please, for the love of God, don’t assume every user is using a dumb window manager like Windows, MacOS or GnomeShell. This change utterly destroys window focus in AwesomeWM.

    Please, for the love of God, don’t drop untested UI changes into a final release, which every user is going to get, ‘at the last minute.’

    1. Jorge Villalobos wrote on

      FWIW, you can use the Tab key to select a different engine, if that’s what you’re referring to in your first point.

      1. David wrote on

        That still doesnt fix the issue especially if you have lots of search engines, it is also extremely easy to tab past the search engine you want and then you have to keep tabbing to get back to it.

        This is without a doubt the most disastrous change to the Firefox UI in its whole history.

        There is not one single positive comment on here about it and still Mozilla refuses to listen and restore lost functionality.

        1. Jorge Villalobos wrote on

          Shift+Tab moves you back in the tab order, so you don’t have to go all the way around.

  23. Stacy wrote on

    Firefox, change this crap back!

  24. Nishant wrote on

    +1 to New search style sucks. Please bring back the old style.

  25. Nishant wrote on

    Go to about:config and then change to be false. Then restart and old search bar is back.

    This fix works. Thanks for posting!

  26. Nicholas Bodley wrote on

    It seems that a comment from a user, a frustrated and disappointed user, might be permitted. I’ve read all the comments here.

    First off, my primary computer is a Nexus 7 2, unrooted. I use Ffx v. 34 for Android, and for me, it works nicely as a browser, with one exception, managing bookmarks. Trying to find out how to do that revealed that v.34 is so different from earlier versions that it might as well be the product of another company! Count me as one who was heartbroken when Google effectively killed CMarks.

    Trying to find a procedure for managing bookmarks, or an add-on to do it, led me for hours through a plethora of advice that was not only useless, but antagonizing, because it /seemed/ to apply to Ffx in general. A lot of it was as useful as online help for, say Opera. Finally, I found a trustworthy statement that v. 34 users can’t manage bookmarks. I’m not likely to root this Nexus, learn enough to locate my bookmark file and set up an environment to use a database language to make the changes I want. Shucks, I’m probably not even going to learn Python!

    Along the way during the search, as well as recalling Ffx versions from earlier days, I came to some tentative conclusions. For one, working on ver. 35, such a high number, seems strange; I wonder whether even COBOL version numbers are that high. FORTRAN, afaik still alive, might not have yet reached ver. 10.

    I’ve already commented on the awesome disconnect from just about all online help/forum documentation. There seems to be a crying need for a separate set of online help docs that match the current and near-future versions.

    I well recall how, some years back, maybe around ver. 15, when a major rewrite disabled essentially all add-ons and extensions. There were iirc a few hundred, and apparently a good number of professionals had come to rely on them. Perhaps the rewrite was mandatory because the existing code was quite insecure, but it appeared that there was an attitude of “users be damned!”

    Well, it seems that Firefox didn’t learn from that. It seems to have a subtle, but powerful desire to destroy itself.

    There are a few time-proven principles that seem to be ignored by those in charge of updating the browser. In our vernacular, we say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Unnecessary changes are a bad idea. Maintain, yes, but … another one is that if you /can/ do something, that doesn’t say you /should/. Yet another is to keep designs (and code) simple. Unnecessary complexity and impressive sophistication are bad ideas. If your mindset is primarily to look at what you’ve done and be very proud of your ability to manage its sophistication, forgetting the users and add-on developers, you’re on the wrong track, and there just might be a trrain headed your way.
    I’m not saying this is so, but do wonder, just a bit.

    I’ve also speculated that Ffx might be a persistent target of malicious hackers, and all these changes are low-key mandatory work to try to survive. However, I don’t think such is the case.

    After reading the distressed comments by several posters, I wondered whether you developers would consider a boycott until much better stability of the browser code develops. “The Browser Without Add-ons” would not be a welcome moniker. I seem to recall something about a shortage of IT people, and unfilled job openings. Bless you all for your dedication.

    Regarding stability, Mint Linux periodically designates new versions as having long term support, iirc for five years. LTS, afaik, devolves from its Ubuntu “parent”. Now, if a whole OS can do that, and probably do it well, seems to me that a browser could do as much for its affiliated developers. Periodic trashing of nearly all established ancillaries, whether or not it’s an ego trip, is imho a Very Bad Idea.

    Fwiw, I’m 78, mind still works quite well, and I was a midnight hacker (with permission) in 1960. Wrote some Philco 2000 assembler (Yuck!). Around 1980, I really liked Zilog Z80 mnemonics as contrasted with Intel’s. Used Mostek’s FLP-80 DOS and 8″ floppies, embedded app. More recently, I’ve been writing a good bit on the history of technology for the Howthingswork Yahoo group, although have been inactive for many months. Thanks for reading, and best of luck!

  27. reclusedna wrote on

    If this search bar came out around the beginning of April, I would have thought that whoever implemented this thing was lighting up our day with a pretty funny prank. But since April Fool’s Day is long gone, I have to assume that maybe it was someone’s last week on the job or maybe someone just slipped you a serious mickey.
    This is the most non-usable, ridiculous, mind-boggling, Commodore 64 “updates” I have ever seen and frankly it’s just downright fugly.
    Seriously, this looks like something I would have designed on my first day of class when CSS was in its intimacy. I have been a huge fan of Firefox for many many years. I deal with the fact that it is a bit slower than other browsers for the pinpoint accuracy I can get when personalizing my user experience.
    However, when I went to use my very organized and customized usual search bar, I was horrified to see a giant row of icons flowing gently off the side of the screen, making a kind of non-functioning blind spot of my at-one time very useful list of search engines!
    So now I guess I have to make a wall-chart by my desk so that I can start to memorize the 40 or so different icons before me. In addition to this gorgeous psuedo-functionality, I was greeted by the actual text space shrinking to half its size, and as if this user experience couldn’t get any better, the icons actually come up as I’m typing, blocking my new tiny area to type into, so that I have to actually hit ‘esc’ to finish my query!!
    The fact that there wasn’t any new options in preferences to switch back to or at least add the name of my search engines/sites back somehow was the little stinky cherry on the top.

    Anyway, I guess what I am trying to say is, please stop making decisions that remove control from the users. Especially since your mission statement and homepage copy states the exact opposite.
    I know Google does this every other week, (which is why I don’t use google for searching anymore) and make billions, but the main reason I have stuck with FF this long is that I always felt it was kind of a browser for the people by the people. So please listen to all these pissed off people and leave the user experience at least open enough so that the experience can be controlled by the user.

  28. nada wrote on

    I hate it, why do you have to install it for old users? why not just include it only on fresh installs. It’s so jarring to have my GUI fucked up on a program I’ve used every day for years, and have to waste twenty minutes figuring out how to disable it. I’m turning off automatic updates.

  29. Tom.W wrote on

    It’s even more annoying to get a notice everyday to update to the version that BROKE ! the search engine. Did Google pay firefox to make them the default browser ???????????

    I had to turn off Firefox auto updates to keep the old search bar……

  30. kurt wrote on

    bring back the old quick search box. the new sucks!

  31. Hieu wrote on

    Anyway, I guess what I am trying to say is, please stop making decisions that remove control from the users. Especially since your mission statement and homepage copy states the exact opposite.

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