Mar 022015
 

The release of Firefox 36 last week broke the functionality of the popular add-on Keyword.URL Hack. The author has removed it from Mozilla Add-ons so it appears that no fix will be made available and the add-on is effectively obsolete.

I’ll review an effective replacement for it lower down if you used it to search Google by name in the address bar but first, a quick recap on why it could be so useful:

What Could Keyword.URL Hack Do?  Many Firefox users prefer to force Google searches in the address bar to search by name i.e. go straight to the most relevant website, instead of performing a standard Google search (which just displays a long list of results).

For example, if searching Google by name, when you search for ‘New York Times’ in the address bar you are taken straight to the nytimes.com website. Near-miss name searches such as ‘new y times’ can also take you direct to the right website – without having to display a list of search results and manually choose the most relevant one from there… This can save time and works particularly well if searching for a well known website or brand name.

Originally, we could manually tweak Firefox configuration (by changing the value of the keyword.URL preference in about:config) to force Google searches in the address bar to browse by name. However, Firefox 23 removed that preference so the Keyword.URL Hack add-on was born – it effectively added back the keyword functionality that Firefox 23 removed and let us configure searching by name again.

Sadly, it appears that new changes in Firefox 36 have broken the add-on and it is no longer available – which leaves us with the need for a replacement.

Replacement for Keyword.URL Hack – You may have already noticed that it no longer works in Firefox 36 and later – address bar searches are standard again (showing a list of results) and do not take you straight to the relevant website.

However an excellent replacement for its ability to let you search Google by name in the address bar is the Keyword Search add-on. It is simple to configure and offers extra functionality (if required) such as the ability to use a different search engine in the URL bar than you do in the search field.

First, install the Keyword Search add-on from Mozilla here. Once installed, go to Tools / Add-ons / Extensions and select Options next to the extension to configure it. The settings are mostly self explanatory – if you only want the ability to browse by name in the address bar then just change the Google Features: option as shown in the screenshot below:

keyword search

Keyword Search Options

In the above screenshot I have left the other settings as default because the reason we’re using this add-on is to change Google to search by name, not to use a different search engine in the address bar.

Whilst in the Extensions page you may as well take the opportunity to Remove the obsolete Keyword.URL Hack extension – the less code cluttering up Firefox extensions the better.

Tip: if you live outside of the US and want to always use google.com for searching (instead of country specific sites like google.co.uk etc) then tick the relevant checkbox in the above settings – a simple way to achieve it permanently.

Conclusion

Keyword Search is a useful add-on in its own right but also offers a simple way to browse Google by name in the address bar – it is a good replacement for this usage of the obsolete Keyword.URL Hack extension.

  7 Responses to “Replacement for Keyword.URL Hack In Firefox 36 And Later”

  1. Installed it, configured it, removed it. This is NOT a replacement for keyword.url, it only gives a few search engines, where as the whole point of using keyword.url instead of the Firefox default search providers was that one can use ANY url.

    For example, my current keyword.url is set to Google, English, verbatim, allowing keyboard scrolling (by default google uses JS to intercept arrow keys). Keyword search does not have those options.

    • @Leeloo – as a replacement addon to search Google by name in the address bar (very common usage of the old addon) it does a good job – and this is the feature that I reviewed, in quite some detail.

      Sorry it doesn’t meet your specific needs – I don’t know of any way around it for you at the moment. I’ll edit the article to make it even clearer that it replaces the search by name functionality.

    • Keyword Search also supports setting any arbitrary URL for your search (a complete replacement for the keyword.URL). Just select “Custom…” for the search engine and type in whatever URL you were using.

  2. Thanks a lot, it works like the old keyword.url feature!
    I just had to specify a custom url in the “Keyword Search Engine” field (now a bit different from the above screenshot).
    This custom url: http://www.google.com/search?btnI=I%27m+Feeling+Lucky&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=
    and works like a charm. 😉

  3. Thanks.
    I used the small researched bar to get wikipedia quicker, and google on the big one. I should be able to make it again.

  4. Wow, great idea from the author to remove the add-on! I’m using an old FF version and now I’m not able to reinstall it. Great!

  5. Thank you for highlighting this replacement addon. Greatly appreciated.