Categories: Firefox

Searching Made Faster, the Latest Firefox Exploration

Search is one of the most common activities that people do whenever they go online. At Mozilla, we are always looking for ways to streamline that experience to make it fast, easy and convenient for our users.

Our Firefox browser provides a variety of options for people to search the things and information they seek when they’re on the web, so we want to make search even easier. For instance, there are two search boxes on every home or new tab page – one is what we call the “awesome bar” also known as the URL bar, and the other is the search box in the home/new tab pages.

In the awesome bar, users can use a shortcut to their queries by simply entering a predefined keyword (like @google) and typing the actual search term they are seeking, whether it’s the nearest movie theater location and times for the latest blockbuster movie or finding a sushi restaurant close to their current location. These Search Keywords have been part of the browser experience for years, yet it’s not commonly known. Here’s a hint to enable it:  Go to “Preferences,” then “Search” and check “ One-Click Search Engines”.

This brings us back to why we started our latest refinement: Search shortcuts, which is starting to roll out to US users today.

How does it work?

We are getting one step closer to making the search experience even faster and more straightforward. Users in the US will start to see Google and Amazon as pinned top sites, called “Search shortcuts”. Tapping on these top sites redirects the user to the awesome bar, and automatically fills the corresponding keyword for the search engine. Typing any search term or phrase after the keyword “@google” or “@amazon” and hitting enter, will result in searching for the term in Google or Amazon accordingly, without having to wait for a page to load.

These shortcuts are easy to manage right from the new tab page, so you can add or remove them as you please.  To remove the default search shortcuts, simply click on the dots icon and select “unpin.” If you have a search engine you’d rather have listed, click on the three dots on the right side of your Top Sites section and select “Add search engine.”

What to expect next

We are currently exploring how to expand this utility outside of the US. We expect to learn a great deal in the coming weeks by analyzing the user sentiment and usage of the new feature. User feedback and comments will help us determine next steps and future improvements.

In the spirit of full transparency that Mozilla has always stood for, we anticipate that some of these search queries may fall under the agreements with Google and Amazon, and bring business value to the company. Not only are users benefiting from a new utility, they are also helping Mozilla’s financial sustainability.

In the meantime, check out and download the latest version of Firefox Quantum for the desktop in order to use the Search Shortcuts feature when it becomes available.

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