How to Restore the Old Search UI to Firefox

For the most part, Firefox doesn’t change massively between iterations. The old versions feel similar, if not totally identical to the newer versions, and many people grow accustomed to what has been familiar for so long.

With the release of Firefox 34, the search box on the right was changed. We previously explained how to massively upgrade Firefox’s searching capability, so for some it may be a desirable change.

It is entirely possible that the new search system is compatible with the tweaks we presented, but there is no guarantee. Thus compatibility may be restricted, and the older search UI may need to be restored.

The newer search bar contains a number of search engines as standard and assumes that you’ll use it quite differently.

Rather than using predicted results, it allows you to type a full term and then choose the engine you’d like to search with. The results are then opened in a new tab.

By default the new search experience looks like this:

FS-New-Bar

Clicking the “Change Search Settings” option at the bottom of the drop-down will open another window, which also differs from the old UI.

FS-New-Window

Open a new tab in Firefox, and type about:config into the address bar. You will receive a warning, but since we’re not doing anything too risky, it poses no risk to the browser’s performance.

FS-About-Config

Along the top of the page is a search box which can be used to filter through the many, many options available. Type “oneoffbuttons” and it will show only one entry: browser.search.showOneOffButtons.

FS-OneOff-Button

If you’re using the new search UI, then it will be set to “True.” Double click it, and it will change to “False.” The line of text will be bold when you have changed from the default setting, making it easy to spot.

Close Firefox fully; download windows and extensions are still considered part of the overall process, so must also be closed.

Open the browser and check the search bar; it should now have the familiar old layout.

FS-Old-Bar

Even the older search settings, identified with the “Manage Search Engines” button, are restored through this simple configuration tweak.

FS-Old-Window

While we’re not entirely sure why Mozilla chose to keep a toggle for the older search UI, we’re glad that it is the case. Not everyone will mind the change, and not everyone will want to go back, but it is pleasant to have made it so simple for all parties.

Which search UI do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below.

14 comments

  1. Cyberfox offers the best of both worlds with many more search providers and no annoying box popping down during a search. Thanks for the tweak, though.

  2. I use Quick Search Bar (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/quicksearch/), Add To Search Bar (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/add-to-search-bar/) and Quick Content Search (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/quickcontextsearch/). I can make most pages with a search feature part of the search bar, search highlighted text from a right-click menu and do a specific search from a specific search provider. It’s my preferred method of doing any search. The only thing I use the address bar for is to go to a specific URL. I currently have 16 search engines for use. If I type a search in the search bar and my chosen search engine doesn’t give me the results I’m looking for, I just have to click on a different search engine’s icon and hit Enter to do the same search with a different engine. I don’t use the drop-down menu at all – all search engine icons are on display.

  3. the new search box is infested with a glitch gremlen, when ever i add a engine with the “add to search bar” extension, the dropdown in the new bar goes haywire and vansishes leaving only the settings button and no displayed engines in either the selector or settings window.

  4. Paul – Thanks, much appreciated suggestion. As you know, the Newer search window is annoying because when you try changing the search text, the new search will automatically use whatever search engine was used previously. That’s not always what I want, and is functionally regressive.

    BTW: a quibble but you should add that you actually have to SELECT the button: “I’ll be careful, I promise”
    Otherwise, “Along the top of the page is a search box” makes no sense.

  5. This method USED to work for versions of firefox before 43.0. Now (as of December 17, 2015) Firefox has re-surfaced its ugly new search tile box version again in spite of browser.search.showOneOffButtons to false. Is there any other alternative to fixing this??? Thanks for any help.

  6. I concur with “old search on firefox user” – I was racking my brain trying to figure out why the old hack didn’t work. I DO NOT LIKE the “new experience”. Using an alternate OS, I expect the ability to configure all things, including the browser. New FF gets two thumbs down!

  7. I hate the new box that makes selecting another provider overly difficult. I just want to know when the fix is restored, if ever.

  8. The only way to restore the old search option I’ve found is to use the add-on “Classic Theme Restorer”. Once it’s installed go to the “General UI (1)” tab and click “old search”.

    The add-on changes a lot of things by default but if you go to settings and select “Firefox presets” it will leave the rest of your Firefox as it is.

    • Thanks, Jay, This is going to be a very useful add-on. The old search bar comes back without a restart after the add-on is installed.

    • Just to say thanks also to Jay. Irealised that there were several other things that had been”improved” and I brought back the old style buttons etc.

    • It worked for me too. Thanks a million, Jay! I’m not fond of resorting to add-ons with a gazillion of other options, but I’m so glad I got back my drop-down list of search engines.

  9. Apart from Mozilla’s wishes to evolve, breaking “conservative”-switches a year after introducing them leaves users really unsatisfied, they could figure. So what makes them ignore us? Money.
    There has been “Search engine organizer” by Malte Kraus, but this one is now disabled automatically.
    Mozilla wants to evolve, but IMHO they currently really risk to loose a critical amount of users.

Comments are closed.

Sponsored Stories