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What is OpenDNS and how do I turn it off?
July 24, 2012 7:55 AM   Subscribe

What is OpenDNS and how do I turn it off? Please explain it to me like I'm seven years old.

I live in Houston. I have a MacBook Pro, AT&T DSL service (no landline), and Airport Extreme, and I primarily use Firefox as my browser. I've had AT&T for years. My MO when using the internet is to use the address bar for Google searches.

About two years ago, instead of taking me to, say, the Google search results page for lululemon when I type "lululemon" into the address bar, Firefox started taking me to an OpenDNS results page. THIS IS NOT THE BEHAVIOR I WANT.

I did not sign up for OpenDNS, I do not want to use OpenDNS, but for the life of me, I can not figure out how the hell to turn it off. It just showed up one day. I believe that it was installed onto my router by AT&T. OpenDNS's "help" pages are notoriously difficult to understand, and I can't find instructions anywhere on how to disable the service.

This does not happen in Chrome if I try to use the Chrome address bar as a Google search field. It also doesn't happen at all when I'm at work on the work wifi or intranet with the same computer, no matter what browser I'm using. So why is it only happening at home, and how can I turn it off? I just want the Firefox bar to act as a Google search field. (Please don't tell me to switch to Chrome for good. I already use it, but I have to use multiple browsers for work.) Thanks in advance.
posted by Brittanie to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
This is a Firefox thing, not something to do with your router. Firefox changed its default behavior a while back. You can fix it by mucking about with the config settings in Firefox.

Instructions are here.

The other way of doing this is to actually go in an edit your router settings. It'll be hard to give detailed instructions without knowing exactly what you're dealing with though. I'd stick to just changing the settings in Firefox.

As an alternative: you can just not use the address bar for your searches. Firefox has a dedicated search box that you can set to use Google. It's actually set to Google by default, IIRC. It's right next to the address bar, and if you're in the address bar, hitting Tab will move you to the search fox.
posted by valkyryn at 8:02 AM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


CTRL+K will take you to the search bar in Firefox, and CTRL+Up and CTRL+Down will cycle through the different search engines you have installed there.
posted by Aizkolari at 8:14 AM on July 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here are instructions to change the DNS settings on an Airport Extreme. Note that in Step 5 you will have to contact your ISP (AT&T) to find out what their DNS servers are. This forum post suggests they are:

Preferred 68.94.156.1
Alternate 68.94.157.1

You can also just use the Google DNS numbers listed on the first page I linked to, if you like. FWIW I have never had success with alternate DNS numbers and always get better service by going with my ISP's standard DNS (this is on both Comcast and Time Warner Cable).
posted by Rock Steady at 8:19 AM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


DNS is a core part of the system that makes up the world wide web. It is responsible, amongst other things, for mapping the "friendly" website names (aka, "URLs") we use into the numbers ("IP addresses") that computers use. For example, when you type http://www.google.com into your browser's URL box, it gets converted to the IP address 74.125.226.196. (Try it! Type that number into your browser's URL box, and you'll go to Google!)

Companies like OpenDNS facilitate these conversions, and usually do so while adding some additional features to the conversion process. One of the increasingly common "features" provided is friendlier handling of "bad URLs". For example, if you type "lululemon" into the address bar, you're really asking for nonsense -- that is not a website URL, and thus the DNS system should give you an error page.

However, people don't like error pages. They like results. Thus, a relatively recent idea is to treat non-URL entries in browser address bars as attempts at web searches. This generally has to happen at the DNS provider's level; the logic is something like, "If I get a string of text that is not a URL, then I should return an error, but also return some search results from whomever is paying me the most."

What is likely happening is that your home internet provider is using OpenDNS for doing these conversions. Frankly, that's not a terrible decision; OpenDNS is one of the less evil DNS providers out there. However, you can override the ISP's decision by changing some settings in your router or in your operating system. You'll need to know the IP address of the router itself (usually, 192.168.1.1), the username and password to access it (admin/admin is common, but it may be set up differently for you), and then changing the DNS address to something else, such as Google's DNS servers (8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4). Alternatively, you can override this in your operating system, although we'd need to know what you're running to give you specific instructions.

Were I in your shoes, however, I'd just start using the built-in functionality for doing a web search in firefox: CTRL+K, which puts your text into the "search with these terms!" box, instead of CTRL+L, which puts your text into the web address bar.
posted by ellF at 8:55 AM on July 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Rather than muck around with DNS settings, I'd recommend just using a Firefox extension to provide the feature you desire (Search in address bar).

Omnibar is one I use and which is pretty well-rated.

There's also a setting in Firefox you can change to do this internally, but that requires some more tech knowledge to do. This article covers that method if you want to go that route.

If you want to change DNS, I recommend the Google servers. They've always done well for me. (8.8.8.8 & 8.8.4.4)
posted by CrystalDave at 1:48 PM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


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