Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I got many different search engines added to my search toolbar in Firefox (version 8). As I'm facing a soon re-install of my O/S, I need want to backup these search engines - preferably also the keywords I set up for them.

Does anyone know where I can find (save/export/backup) these settings in Mac OS ?

share|improve this question
up vote 3 down vote accepted

You can save all your personalization of Firefox if you save the Firefox profile directory and then restore that data after the installation.

The Firefox's documentation mention that the profile directory under Mac OS is one of these:

  • ~/Library/Mozilla/Firefox/Profiles/<profile folder>
  • ~/Library/Application Support/Firefox/Profiles/<profile folder>
share|improve this answer
Here are the profile locations under different OSes, from MozillaZine Knowledge Base. – Olivier Cailloux Nov 2 '13 at 11:33

The following informations might be useful for transferring only the search engines and their associated keywords to another profile. I didn’t find a way to do it which would be endorsed by the developers, so following this may be risky or may not work with a different version of Firefox. Mine is iceweasel 17.0.6, it works there.

It appears from my tests that information related to the Search engines and keywords are stored in the files search.json and search-metadata.json, and in the folder searchplugins, all three in the Firefox profiles folder. Just copy from the source profile, erase on the target profile does the trick for me. Do this while Firefox is closed (and after having backed up your profile of course).

I couldn’t find much relevant official information, but here is what I found in case someone wants to investigate further or correct the doc (which I did not do because I do not know how general my conclusions based on my own tests are). This page from MozillaZine Knowledge Base (KB) says that the file search.sqlite is “no longer used in current Firefox versions”. According to my tests, this is partly incorrect: deleting the file seems to make Firefox rebuild its Search Engines list. This page from the KB also has informations which do not apply to my version. It says about the file search.json: “Not clear what it is since there is no search.sqlite to cache”, and does not mention search-metadata.json. This page from the KB, although having a promising title, does not contain much useful information. Someone did some related research, but it is probably now outdated.

My findings are based on the following tests (on a linux box). I set a keyword for one of the Search Engines, closed Firefox, and ran "grep -rl mykeyword *" in the related Firefox profile folder, which gave me only search-metadata.json. Similarly, searching for the name of one of the Search Engines ("grep -rl CNRTL *") gives only the file search.json. I also checked the content of the file "search.sqlite" (because it has a seemingly relevant name): ran "sqlite3 search.sqlite" then ".dump" to see the content of the database. It had only one table with only one entry (something about google). Also the file does not get updated when I change the search engines, whereas the other two do.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.