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In chrome I can type a single word, such as 'cats', and it will google search it.

In firefox, it tries to go to or something. This functionality annoys the hell out of me, especially as I use Chrome at home and Firefox at work.

Is there a way to make firefox behave a bit more intelligently, ie. if there is no .com or other extension, don't bother trying to go to the URL, just go straight to search?

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up vote 16 down vote accepted

If it fits your needs, you can use the Omnibar Add-On, which is modeled after Chrome.

enter image description here

Integrates location bar and search bar into one. Shows search and url suggestions. Quickly switch search engine using search keywords. Provides different auto-complete popup styles for compact displays.

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Perfect this should work great – SLC Aug 4 '11 at 12:30

Also, Firefox 14 has this feature.

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I have always used InstantFox for this purpose. Note that the Standard search without shortcuts option has to be turned on in this case.

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It seems to work fine for me, I just typed cats and dogs in the address bar, and it looked it up in google. I have Firefox version 4.0

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OT: You should upgrade to Firefox 5.0.1 as Firefox 4 is not supported any more and replaced by Firefox 5. Well, can't even spell how stupid I think this new release model is for business use. But you said you're using Firefox at work so you might have to convince your admin to upgrade. For support status see also here: – SkyBeam Aug 4 '11 at 9:18
Thanks @SkyBeam, I have updated it now. But the google searching thing does seem to be an issue, as I just tried typing 'cats' in the address bar, and it directed me to cats I even tried 'dogs', and it had a 'bad request'. But if you try 'cats and dogs', it works fine. Weird... – Kevdog777 Aug 4 '11 at 9:32
My comment was off-topic, not related to the search bar functionality at all. The Firefox search bar seems always to try turning single-word input into domain names. Multi-wort input is always treated as potential search terms forwarded to the search engine. Interestingly I've tried some barewords too and got forwarded to google search as well (after some delay). Prefixing the search term with "+" like "+cats" directed me to search results more quickly. I am used to fill search terms to the dedicated search bare still; but this is probably just a habit I kept from ancient times ;) – SkyBeam Aug 4 '11 at 11:50
If it can't find it can redirect to search, but sometimes this takes 20 seconds – SLC Aug 4 '11 at 12:29

Posting here because I have been frustrated by the same problem and discovered a quick and painless workaround that saves us from having to install addons:

Just type a space somewhere in the address bar. FF is at least smart enough to know immediately that any name lookup containing a space is doomed to fail, so it goes directly to the fallback search functionality.

Instead of "cats" search "cats ".

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This doesn't work for me on FF 18.0.1. – Kazark Feb 2 '13 at 16:51
If you have a good keymap, you can easily insert a non-breaking space: Firefox will directly make the search, instead of looking for a valid domain for few seconds. – zopieux Jun 30 '13 at 22:22

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