Monday, August 4, 2008

Tweak: Fx 3 Address Bar

One of the biggest changes to Firefox 3 is the Smart Location Bar commonly called the AwesomeBar. You are either going to like it or hate it as it is a major change as to how the address bar behaves in comparison to Firefox 2. I am not going to get into all the technical details as to how the Smart Location Bar works other than to say it displays the results based not only on addresses you have type previously (Firefox 2 behavior) but as well as browser history and bookmarks. For more detailed information on the technical workings and frequency algorithm of the Smart Location Bar see this CyberNet News article.

  • Bar Appearance - One of the first things you will notice is each result is displayed on two lines. The favicon followed by the page title in a larger font on the top line, followed by the URL in green below. In Firefox 2 the results were displayed on one line with the page URL followed by the page title. This new format may be a little easier to read, but takes up more room.
    • Oldbar - You can revert back to the Firefox 2 style by using the oldbar add-on (note this add-on only changes the display of the results, not the method the results are obtained). See Review: Oldbar for more information and samples.
    • Number of Results - By default the Smart Location Bar will display a maximum of 12 results based on what is typed in the address bar. You can increase (or in my case decrease) this number by going to a new tab and typing about:config; (if needed click the “I’ll be careful, I promise” button) filter for browser.urlbar.maxRichResults; double-click on the entry and enter the number of results you would like displayed.
  • Removing History and/or Bookmarks - Again it is important to understand the Smart Location Bar displays the results on not just previously typed URLs but your browser history and bookmarks as well. Note: If you make these changes, the Smart Location Bar will still display results on Bookmarks and History when you start typing in the bar, but then will automatically filter based on your settings once you add a couple more letters.
    • Remove Historyand Bookmarks- Like Firefox 2, you can setup so that the address bar only displays results based on addresses you have typed. From about:config filter for browser.urlbar.matchOnlyTyped; double-click on the entry to change it from ‘False’ to ‘True’
    • Remove Unvisited Bookmarks - Your displayed results will still include your bookmarks, but only those you have visited. From about:config filter for places.frecency.unvisitedBookmarkBonus; double-click on the entry and enter ‘0′ (note this is a zero, not an ‘O’). Restart Firefox and clear history.
    • Remove ALL Bookmarks - Your displayed results will only be based on your browser history as well what has already been typed in the Smart Location Bar. With about:config change the following entries to ‘0′ (note this is a zero, not an ‘O’ also be sure to Restart Firefox and clear history after making these changes):
      • places.frecency.unvisitedBookmarkBonus
      • places.frecency.bookmarkVisitBonus
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