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Change searching in windows in Firefox
June 29, 2008 7:25 AM   Subscribe

How can I change the behavior of searching in windows in Firefox? The Firefox search-in-browser bar is, and has always has been, awful.

[I posted this to the Firefox forums and got no response.]

I am not referring to searches done using URL shortcuts nor am I referring to searches done using search box in the upper right corner of the browser window.

The search-in-browser bar is what I am calling the bar that appears at the bottom of the browser window when you search for content inside of the page that is currently loaded by hitting ctrl-F on Windows or command-F on Mac. I use Firefox 3.0 for both platforms.

The search-in-browser bar is broken (or, if you prefer, intentionally coded in such a way that it behaves in a broken fashion) in that it:

a. Continues to appear on the screen even long after it has last been used.

b. Continues to appear on the screen when a link is clicked and a new page is loaded.

c. "Match case" seems to be arbitrarily selected in between searches.

d. Takes up an inordinate amount of screen real estate, especially in a browser window that fills the monitor. This is particularly problematic on a laptop with a small screen.

What I would like to find is a way to change this behavior. I have looked for things to change in about:config and for an appropriate extension but found no joy.

What I'd like to have happen in Firefox:

1. The search-in-browser bar should disappear in user-settable amount of time after it has last been used, either X amount of time after the last search is made or after the last time a related search key command is entered. I know that you can sometimes hit escape to get the search-in-browser bar to disappear, but that doesn't always work either--it sometimes stupidly requires that you click back into the search field and *then* hit escape--not even rehitting ctrl-F/command-F and then hitting escape works.

2. The search-in-browser bar should disappear when a link is clicked and a new page is loaded.

3. "Match case" should never be selected by default or at the start of a search; or, it should be a user preference as to whether it is a default or not.

4. Ideally, the search-in-browser bar should be able to be turned off. It should return to being a pop-up window as it was on previous versions of Firefox, or it should be a user preference as to whether it should be attached to the window or should be a free-standing pop-up window.
posted by Mo Nickels to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
For #1, Use the / key instead of control-f -- that opens up Quick Find which will disappear automatically. Unfortunately, there are no NEXT/PREVIOUS buttons, but there is apparently a fix (untested).
posted by nitsuj at 7:36 AM on June 29, 2008


I just hit ESC after I search. If I'm searching multiple terms or for some reason the search box has lost focus I just hit ^F to get back to it and then hit ESC. This is behavior I've adapted since the popup search box (a la IE, a modality I now hate) was replaced in FF. In the search box you'd have to hit "Next" in order to find the appropriate search result anyway, so ESC was the exit route there as well.
posted by rhizome at 7:39 AM on June 29, 2008


Sounds like you need the glories of Find As You Type, an add-on that I view as essential to my Firefox usage. It goes away after a set amount of time, the bar disappears when a new page is loaded, match case isn't selected, and while I don't know if it returns a to being a pop-up window, you can just start typing in a non-entry field and it will search the whole page, hitting ctrl-f only required if you want it to be.
posted by Carillon at 7:50 AM on June 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah. Find As You Type is essential. F3 finds next instance of the word.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:53 AM on June 29, 2008


You don't get next/previous buttons with Quick Find, but you can still use the ctrl-g and shift-ctrl-g shortcuts.
posted by reynaert at 8:11 AM on June 29, 2008


nitsuj and everyone, Quick Find and FAYT might just do the trick. I don't need the buttons. Command-G, the almost universal "find again" command, works there just fine.

Now I'm off to find a way to make commmand-F invoke Quick Find. That should be easier than undoing 15 years of muscle memory.
posted by Mo Nickels at 8:20 AM on June 29, 2008


I managed to hack this up in about:config for FF2 but whatever it was got undid in FF#. I'll hunt around and see if I can figure out what did it. Whatever it was had the exact behavior you describe as wanting.
posted by jessamyn at 9:06 AM on June 29, 2008


To make your life easier across the web, call it "find", not search. Search means googling.
posted by bonaldi at 9:40 AM on June 29, 2008


To make your life easier across the web, call it "find", not search. Search means googling.

Have you tried googling variants of "find" in conjunction with this problem? I didn't think so. You'd see instantly how useless your advice is.
posted by Mo Nickels at 10:24 AM on June 29, 2008


Adding this line to your userChrome.css file will fix some of this behavior

.findbar-container > * {display:-moz-box !important;}

- full find not quick find
- goes away when you click a link
- goes away on its own quicklike
- match case never arbitrarily selected
posted by jessamyn at 11:49 AM on June 29, 2008


I find (sorry) that if I type the text I want to find on the page into the Google search box I get a "find next occurrence of" in the google task bar (I assume you have to install that) and I use that to search within web pages. Works in a way that is to how I suppose some sort of magic charm might work.
posted by mmahaffie at 12:05 PM on June 29, 2008


Have you tried googling variants of "find" in conjunction with this problem? I didn't think so. You'd see instantly how useless your advice is.

Well, the shortcut you've best answered above is on the first page of hits for firefox find in page, so have you tried googling your problem accurately? You'd see how useless describing it with the wrong words is.
posted by bonaldi at 12:21 PM on June 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Bonaldi, bravo to you. Google's search is so excellent that even a lame-ass search string like "firefox find in page" produces results.
posted by Mo Nickels at 11:10 AM on July 2, 2008


Yes, but even they fail with wilfully wrong terms, like "firefox change font size" or whatever you were intent on using. Don't fight teh goog.
posted by bonaldi at 11:13 AM on July 2, 2008


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