How to Get Chrome’s Smart OmniBar in Firefox

As we all know, the Google Chrome is famous for its minimalist approach to laying out the interface. There is no menubar and statusbar and the tabs are located out of the window rather than inside the window. One of the important component that it has successfully discarded is the search bar. Instead, there is this omnibar that acts as both an search bar and URL address bar.

Now, if you love this minimalist concept of combining the search bar and address bar into one and want to implement it in Firefox, here are two extensions that can easily do the job.

Omnibar extension

Omnibar extension has been around for quite some time (since Google Chrome was first released). What it does is to hide away the default search bar and integrate the feature into the address bar.

After installing the extension, you will find that your search bar is gone and your address bar is now extened all the way to the end. There is a new icon at the end of the address bar. Clicking on the icon will display your list of search engines where you can choose which one to search.

Before:
firefox-with-searchbar

After:
firefox-without-searchbar

Select search engines
firefox-omnibar-select-search-engine

In the Settings page, there are options for you to choose if you want it to show suggestions (based on your search terms) and how many suggestions for it to show.

firefox-omnibar-settings

One interesting option is that you can choose the mode to display the suggestions. You can either get it to show rich mode, slim mode or rich & slim mode. Here’s the differences between the various mode:

Rich mode:
firefox-omnibar-rich-mode

Slim mode:
firefox-omnibar-slim-mode

Rich and slim mode:
firefox-omnibar-rich-slim-mode

You can further customize if you want the search engine name or icon to display in the address bar.

Foobar extension

Foobar (not to be confused with the Foobar2000 media player) is an experimental addon (at this point of writing) similar to Omnibar in many aspects. It also combines your search bar into the address bar and displays an icon at the end for you to select the search engines.

firefox-foobar

The differentiation between a search terms and an URL has been pretty accurate. One thing though, if you have previously set a keyword for your search engines, you won’t be able to use it here. For example, if you have previously associated ‘you’ with youtube.com, you should be able to perform a search in youtube.com with the search term ‘you michael jackson’ , but in Foobar, this feature does not work at all.

In the settings page, you can see that Foobar comes with lesser configuration options.

firefox-foobar-settings

You can configure the search to open in new tabs or in current tab and whether to show suggestions for search and URL. As in omnibar, it also comes in two different modes: simple and rich.

Conclusion

Personally, I feel that if you really love the Chrome omnibar, you might as well use Google Chrome instead of Firefox. If for some reasons that you are not able to ditch Firefox, probably because you are in need of some useful extensions that are not available in Chrome, then the above two would serve their purpose well. I would think that they are most useful when used in a netbook environment where the screen real estate is limited.

What do you think?